Bob Klapisch recently compared the second basemen for the Yankees and Red Sox and had this to say:
What makes this comparison so poignant is that [Dustin] Pedroia and [Robinson] Cano are alike in many ways. Their career averages are nearly identical (Pedroia .307, Cano .306), they’re almost the same age (Cano, 27, is a year older) and both have extraordinarily low swing-and-miss ratios. In addition, Cano and Pedroia are being asked to assume greater responsibility by their respective teams in 2010.
The Sox, who’ve lost Jason Bay and have only a long-shot hope of resurrecting David Ortiz’s bat, need Pedroia to emphasize run production over on-base percentage – not unlike Derek Jeter when he used to bat in the No. 2 spot.
Similarly, the Yankees need Cano to step up and become one of their elite hitters in the post-Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui era. It’s not an unreasonable expectation, given that Cano has hit .300 or better in three of his first five seasons.
Those are all fair observations and points. But, what caught my eye, after that, in the same feature, was when Klapisch wrote:
Cano seems ready for the challenge, showing up at 7 a.m. this week for infield drills with Alex Rodriguez. That’s a considerable lifestyle change for the historically easygoing Cano, whose friendship with Melky Cabrera may or may not have kept him from reaching superstar status.
Cano lamented his buddy’s off-season trade to the Braves, saying, “We used to go out and talk all the time. I’ve known him for 10 years.” But one member of the organization says Cano is better off on his own, spending more of his baseball-time with A-Rod.
Was Melky a bad influence on Cano? Did that have anything to do with the Yankees sending Cabrera down to Triple-A for four weeks in 2008? Then again, Leche was on the team with Robby in 2006, 2007 and 2009 – all seasons where Cano did fine with the bat.
It will be interesting to see how Cano does in 2010 with his primo, Melky, out of the picture. And, if Cano does poorly, it will be all on him this season – as Cabrera won’t be around for anyone to blame Robby’s failure on him being a bad influence.