• The Pedroia/Cano Debate

    Posted by on August 22nd, 2009 · Comments (10)

    Via Joel Sherman today -

    I formed a seven- man committee comprised of one NL GM, one AL GM, and five assistants — three NL and two AL — and posed this question:

    If you could have Robinson Cano or Dustin Pedroia for the next five years, who would you take and why?

    The result surprised me. All seven executives picked Pedroia. He is the reigning MVP. But his 2009 season is down from last year while Cano has rebounded to have a positive campaign. Pedroia just turned 26, Cano turns 27 in October.

    However, all seven respondents followed a basic theme: “Pedroia has better makeup and gives his all every day,” an NL exec said. “On natural ability, Cano tops the list. But Pedroia is a winner and a leader.”

    Still, what became obvious from the respondents was that Cano has an image problem that lingers even as his overall game has improved this year. For if both second basemen took the field in workout garb for hitting, running, throwing and fielding drills, Cano likely would be the more impressive player. But the perception lingers that Cano does not concentrate well and floats through too many at-bats, while Pedroia treats every inning as a baseball holy war.

    “I trust [Pedroia's] ability to grind and persevere more than Cano,” the NL GM said.

    Me? Pedroia has to prove that 2008 wasn’t a fluke…because, if he’s not hitting 50+ doubles and 15+ homers in a season, then his game, despite the high batting average, plays out to be close to a league average performer. And, we know, sans last season, Cano can post a season with numbers close to 40 doubles, 20 homers, and a batting average over .300…which is very good for a second baseman.

    What do you think, which player would you rather have as your second baseman?

    Comments on The Pedroia/Cano Debate

    1. butchie22
      August 22nd, 2009 | 11:50 am

      I prefer Pedroia hands down. Robbie has had a very good year BUT as Sweeney Murty as said his RISP batting average is not that impressive.Pedroia is more of a firey type of player than Cano. He’s a pest and I love those types of players(like Gardner and Eckstein ).

      From what i understand Cano’s work ethic has diminished since he signed that big contract. Yeah, he’s doing well in the field AND at the plate BUT is he an MVP caliber player? On the Yanks , Teix and then Jeter are the MVPS this year NOT Cano, though Robbie has been quite good. It was quite funny to hear people in talk radio wanting to trade Cano to Toronto in a package for Halladay. That’s how little some fan’s perception is of him. They had Aaron Hill already, who is cheaper, pretty good in his own right, and controllable til 2014.

      Steve, I will say this much, I need to see one more year of Pedroia before I bury him in terms of production. I love his grit ,guttiness and determination but that doesn’t always win ballgames……

    2. thenewguy
      August 22nd, 2009 | 12:11 pm

      This is not directed specifically at you, Butchie, however I feel that Pedroia’s stature and race have much more to do with the perception of him than his game does. Yes, he’s a great player. Maybe I would take him over Cano (I think it’s really a toss up. Cano more talent, Pedroia more consistency.)

      However, as RAB (and many, many others have pointed out), short white players are called grity, gutty, grinders, etc. Whereas Latin players are typically portrayed as lazy, indifferent, hot doggers, etc

      A good example, in my mind, is Manny Ramirez. He could give a better effort ON the field (running to first base hard, in the OF.) However he is still one of the hardest workers in the game by all accounts. So is he lazy because he wears baggy clothes and jogs down to first base? I’d bet he puts much more time in the offseason working out than Pedroia does.

      I’m beginning to ramble as I re-read what I wrote, but basically I think Pedroia gets too much credit because he is short and white while Cano is maligned unfairly when it LOOKS like he isn’t trying.

      I think another factor is that Cano swings and pops up the first pitch for an out a lot because he is such a free swinger. This can get quite frustrating when he sees 6 pitches in 4 ABs and pops out every time. But being a free swinger doesn’t mean you don’t work hard.

    3. Evan3457
      August 22nd, 2009 | 12:55 pm

      Pedroia is a called a gamer and a grinder and a hustler because he IS a gamer and a grinder and a hustler.

      Cano is called lazy because he IS lazy.

      Pedroia goes all out at all times, just like Jeter.(What race is Jeter again, by the way?) Sometimes Pedroia’s aggressive style gets him into trouble, such as when he chases high fastballs and hits flyballs; or like last night, when he committed a terrible blunder by trying for the triple with 2 outs in the 3rd, and was done in by Jeter’s intelligence, hustle and ability.

      Pedroia has command of the strike zone; Cano gets himself out repeatedly by his refusal to take marginal pitches when he has less than two strikes. Cano will deny himself first base 10 times a year by failing to hustle out of the box when he sees he’s grounded the ball at a fielder. I’ve never seen Pedroia do this. Cano will forget to cover 2nd, or will cover late. I’ve never seen Pedroia do that. Cano makes that wonderful play up the middle, and his off balance throw on the move is a joy to behold. Unfortunately, he sometimes skates on that move when a slow runner is running, and when there’s plenty of time to set and throw, and this has caused several unneccessary, unforced errors this seaons, including the one that started the Sox’ rally in the 6th that got Pettitte out of the game.

      ==========================================
      I have defended Cano repeatedly in other places. He’s a good secondbasemen, all things considered. I’d a lot rather have him than say, Luis Castillo, or Felipe Lopez, or Orlando Hudson or Rickie Weeks. But Pedroia is the better all-around player. He’s smarter, tougher and more hard-working. He’s a far better hitter in clutch situations.

      Sherman’s committee of front office people have it right. Pedroia is better.

    4. August 22nd, 2009 | 1:47 pm

      [...] Steve Lombardi over at Was Watching and Mike Axisa from River Ave. Blues posted about the [...]

    5. August 22nd, 2009 | 3:21 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Pedroia goes all out at all times, just like Jeter.(What race is Jeter again, by the way?)

      Though he’s biracial, he is mostly considered to be white. When was the last time you saw Jeter included in Jackie Robinson Day presentations or considered one of the best black players to ever play the game?

      Then again, here’s an interesting follow-up. I remember seeing Grady Sizemore included in a presentation on Jackie Robinson Day, but Jeter wasn’t included. Both are biracial. What makes one player more “black” or “white”?

    6. butchie22
      August 22nd, 2009 | 4:36 pm

      My favorite quote from the Sherman article says it all: Cano was even described by one Yankee as “soft” and is viewed as not maximizing his abundant skills or being a winning player. Cano often appears to value making plays look good rather than simply completing the play.

      Every team has a guy like this. Rios who was on the Blue Jays(now the white Sox , who stupidly picked him up) and Reyes on the Mets. Their head is not 100% in the game. The fact that all three are Hispanic is purely coincidental BECAUSE they are plenty of Hispanic players that are hard chargers and gamers, just not these three. Yes, I’ve called Cano lazy time and time again and he is BUT he has looked good so far this year except for his RISP numbers. As much as I prefer Dustin, I can’t act like Robbie is a bust this year , he certainly isn’t. Just the same, Pedroia is a winning player and Cano isn’t……….

      @ Brent, Jeter is half black. His African American dad and Irish american mom show up to the games. The vast majority of Yankee fans are cognizant of that fact. I really don’t know people who call him “mostly white” BTW.

    7. August 22nd, 2009 | 5:03 pm

      butchie22 wrote:

      @ Brent, Jeter is half black. His African American dad and Irish american mom show up to the games. The vast majority of Yankee fans are cognizant of that fact. I really don’t know people who call him “mostly white” BTW.

      But there lies the interesting thing. Maybe I’m just making a mountain out of a molehill, but you never see Jeter associated with other black players, at least in public presentations.

      Maybe it’s just how I grew up though, I’m half Puerto Rican/half Polish, but I fully associate myself as an Hispanic man, but I’m digressing from the topic.

    8. OnceIWasAYankeeFan
      August 22nd, 2009 | 7:59 pm

      Uh, didn’t Sheffield get in trouble for saying Jeter “isn’t all the way black”?

      Anyway – on the topic at hand – something that ought to factor into the equation is what they do on the bases. I am sure Cano wins a foot race, but why is it that in their careers (and Pedroia has one fewer season), Cano has stolen 16 bases while getting thrown out 19 times and Pedroia has stolen 43 while being thrown out 10 times? OK, Cano doesn’t get the green light very often. But still, that is a startling difference, and another plus in Pedroia’s column.

      I see them this way, overall:
      BA will always be very similar;
      Cano higher SLG (Yankee Stadium III being a big help in that department – Pedroia will hit more doubles at home but Cano hits more homers at home. Check out this year’s home/away splits for proof)
      Pedroia better OBP
      Pedroia better with the glove especially in consistency

      Overall they are a lot like Munson vs Fisk. Both are great players, both should be respected by the other team’s fans.

    9. Evan3457
      August 22nd, 2009 | 8:40 pm

      Brent wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Pedroia goes all out at all times, just like Jeter.(What race is Jeter again, by the way?)

      Though he’s biracial, he is mostly considered to be white. When was the last time you saw Jeter included in Jackie Robinson Day presentations or considered one of the best black players to ever play the game?

      Then again, here’s an interesting follow-up. I remember seeing Grady Sizemore included in a presentation on Jackie Robinson Day, but Jeter wasn’t included. Both are biracial. What makes one player more “black” or “white”?

      Well, I’m funny that way, Butchie. I’ve never considered Jeter mostly white or mostly black. When he came up, the fact that he was biracial was interesting to me, and while I’m always cognizant of it, I havn’t given up a serious thought since I first heard about it. That original thought was “He’s biracial? That’s interesting.”

      What do I consider Jeter?

      I consider him a ballplayer. I think of Pedroia the same way. Teixiera, too. I just like the way these three guys do their jobs. Pete Rose was a ballplayer. So was Joe Morgan. So was Al Kaline. So was Hank Aaron. So was Eddie Murray. I could cite 20 examples of all ethnic backgrounds if I cared to. It’s not really the point.

      Cano probably has more native ability, and to me, it’s obvious he’s got the talent to play significantly better than he does. Some people consider the mental game to be a talent as well. Others consider that to be character, as in, you can learn to play smarter and harder. There’s some truth to both ideas.

      Maybe Robbie will learn after a great length of time. Maybe this is as good as he gets. Even as he is, he’s obviously in the upper quater of regular secondbasemen, maybe the top 5 (Personally, I like Utley and Roberts better. Kinsler and Hill both have a case. Philips seems about as good, maybe a little better. Polanco and Hudson used to be better, before they aged. Zobrist? We’ll see.)

      Even if he’s not better than Pedroia, it’s not like the Yanks have many useful options here. Pedroia is signed until he’s past 30. The Yanks shouldn’t just dump Cano because he’s not Pedroia. They have to find someone just as good, or nearly as good, before they trade him. And they better get something equally valuable and rare when they do.

    10. MJ
      August 23rd, 2009 | 4:16 pm

      He’s a pest and I love those types of players(like Gardner and Eckstein )
      ————
      Eckstein sucks. There’s no other way to say it, he just sucks.

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