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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Stone: Robinson Cano’s journey to stardom was years in the making

Robbie: Strange playfellow?

But former Mets GM Steve Phillips told The Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish last week in Orlando that Cano “has kind of a lackadaisical, sort of nonchalance about him sometimes that has grown to be accepted in New York. … He had people who stuck up for him. Derek Jeter said, ‘No, no, he’s fine.’

“But in a new place, when you don’t have that collateral relationship with the fans, if you don’t hit, then you go out there and look like you’re kind of going through it, it could affect the transition going into Seattle. It’s something to keep an eye on there.”

To allegations that Cano doesn’t hustle, Gordon Blakeley responds, “You know what that is? Garbage. You can quote that from me. Look at how many games he misses (just 14 total over the last seven years). The game is so easy to Robby, you think he’s lackadaisical. That’s a special thing of great players. Jeter for years made things look easy. There’s no lackadaisical in Robby.’’

...Such scrutiny will only intensify due to the magnitude of his Mariner contract. Those who have known Cano the ballplayer the longest, and the best, insist he’s ready for the glare of the spotlight in his new role in Seattle.

“Robinson was always better when the lights were brighter,’’ Masse said. “Even when he was 19, I’d watch him bat with no one on base, we were winning 8-0. He’d swing at three in the dirt. But with the bases loaded, game on the line, Robinson Cano was the best young hitter I’ve ever seen for that situation.

“If you ask me if the money is going to affect him – yeah, it’ll make him better, because the spotlight’s on him. He doesn’t feel pressure. It makes him play better.”

Repoz Posted: December 15, 2013 at 09:30 AM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mariners

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   1. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:10 AM (#4618252)
Latin American players get this so regularly, there is very clearly (to me anyway) a cultural thing happening. I remember Joe Beningo criticizing Beltran as uncaring and then listing Scott Brossius, Paul O'Neil, Jason Varitek, and others alike as the baseball-caring ideal. What do those fellows have in common, ay?

And then Carlos Gomez shows emotion and Brian McCann has a nervous breakdown.
   2. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 15, 2013 at 10:57 AM (#4618255)
“You know what that is? Garbage. You can quote that from me. Look at how many games he misses (just 14 total over the last seven years). The game is so easy to Robby, you think he’s lackadaisical. That’s a special thing of great players. Jeter for years made things look easy. There’s no lackadaisical in Robby.’’


I agree with this in the most part. But Jeter never looked to the fanbase like he wasn't hustling (except when the Yankees said, "Don't break yourself"). Whatever magic stuff Jeter had in order to look like he's playing hard, Cano doesn't have it.
   3. BDC Posted: December 15, 2013 at 11:07 AM (#4618259)
As we've noted before in such threads, the warrant for the "Cano doesn't hustle" claim is that he's an underachiever. And the problem with that warrant is that he averages 160 games played a year at 2B, at a Hall of Fame level. If he could get significantly more out of his talent, he'd be the greatest player ever.
   4. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 15, 2013 at 11:25 AM (#4618273)
I'm confused. I thought latinos were impatient fiery hotheads, not lackadaisical. I need to update my handbook.

   5. Tippecanoe Posted: December 15, 2013 at 11:36 AM (#4618279)


And then Carlos Gomez shows emotion and Brian McCann has a nervous breakdown

The "Cano underachieves" thing is nonsense, of course, but surely there's some ground in between 'lackadaisical' and that nearly unprecedented preening-taunting-strutting routine. Just because McCann deserved ejection doesn't mean Gomez was fine.
   6. I Am Not a Number Posted: December 15, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4618299)
This is reminiscent of the Whitaker/Trammell days. Two players of comparable value for a long time. One is seen as thoughtful and hard-working and able to get the most of his abilities. The other is seen as aloof and coasting on natural abilities, unwilling to push himself to further greatness. These stereotypical cards would obviously not have been played had the two been the same color.
   7. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 15, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4618305)
Is Jeter a white guy or a black guy? I guess whichever fits your narrative better.
   8. Darren Posted: December 15, 2013 at 12:22 PM (#4618311)
I heard an interview with Kevin Long on XM this week. He was talking about Cano and agreed that the lazy tag is ridiculous. He told stories about Cano's being first at the park in the morning, trying to get in extra bp before and after games, etc. He painted a picture of a really dedicated guy.
   9. NJ in DC Posted: December 15, 2013 at 12:42 PM (#4618321)
[8] I feel like I've talked about this on here a few times already, but I interned for the Yankees in '07 so I would be at the Stadium pretty much the entire day. Every single day that summer the first three guys through the door and either working out in the gym or on the field were A-Rod, Melky and Cano.
   10. haggard Posted: December 15, 2013 at 01:27 PM (#4618356)
When Cano first came up, Steve Phillips said that he didn't have major league talent and wouldn't last long.
   11. AJMcCringleberry Posted: December 15, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4618363)
I remember Joe Beningo criticizing Beltran as uncaring

I read the excerpt and Beltran came to mind as someone who was also stupidly criticized.
   12. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 15, 2013 at 01:33 PM (#4618365)
Philips is an idiot, but he kinda had a point. Cano didn't have much plate discipline, wasn't fast, wasn't wonderful at second, and didn't hit home runs. Dave Cameron famously slagged him, but he wasn't the only one. The Yankees, in my mind, deserve immense credit for giving him the opportunity to be the best player at his position in the game.

Pedroia's another one, and his early MLB play was really terrible. A lot of people think that Boston/New York are terrible places to bring along a young player who is not yet at the top of his game, but those are two examples from the last ten years.
   13. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 15, 2013 at 01:58 PM (#4618387)
I remember 2006, where he hit .342 (with a .365 OBP)! I thought he was a BABIP-blip, and would come down to Earth very soon.
   14. Jim Wisinski Posted: December 15, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4618399)
Philips is an idiot, but he kinda had a point. Cano didn't have much plate discipline, wasn't fast, wasn't wonderful at second, and didn't hit home runs. Dave Cameron famously slagged him, but he wasn't the only one.


Yeah, the only reason that Cameron's now infamous statement is notable is because he came off as such an insufferable know-it-all in his criticism. The actual substance of what he said about Cano was no different than what a lot of people thought at the time.
   15. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 15, 2013 at 02:34 PM (#4618400)
I think the point of this article is right, though. Cano has deep, deep slumps during which he contributes almost nothing offensively. Combine this with the optics of his approach and the expectations from this contract, and a poor month in April 2014 will be blown way out of proportion by the chattering classes.
   16. Bug Selig Posted: December 15, 2013 at 02:47 PM (#4618403)
I heard an interview with Kevin Long on XM this week. He was talking about Cano and agreed that the lazy tag is ridiculous. He told stories about Cano's being first at the park in the morning, trying to get in extra bp before and after games, etc. He painted a picture of a really dedicated guy.


A guy can do this and still give a solid 40% effort after hitting a possible double-play ball. Guess which one the fan sees?

I say this not to actively support the case that he's lazy, but to point out that "Is Robbie lazy?" is a very complicated question - as it is for all of us. Some guys like that extra hour of sleep but crash into walls and slide head-first a lot. We call them scrappy, even though they might be napping away 10 points of OPS+ but we SEE them hustle.
   17. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: December 15, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4618409)
As we've noted before in such threads, the warrant for the "Cano doesn't hustle" claim is that he's an underachiever. And the problem with that warrant is that he averages 160 games played a year at 2B, at a Hall of Fame level.


They said the same thing about Lou Whitaker, which is probably the main reason he got kicked to the curb on the first ballot. Cano's better, of course, but not by as much as you think: Robby has 45 WAR thru age 30, while Sweet Lou had 42...and he would go on to pile on another 33 WAR, for a total of 75 WAR, obvious HoF territory.

Whitaker never achieved 7 WAR in a season, tho, while Cano's done it three times in the last four years. It'll be interesting to see what the Hall will do if Cano "flames out" in Seattle, compiling good-but-not-great years and/or suffering a career-ending injury while playing for mediocre teams way the hell on the other side of the country. He's about four years of standard Cano-like production from being a serious candidate now...but as Bill James once said, "Tomorrow is a dream, or a nightmare, or it may never be."
   18. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 15, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4618410)
Yeah, the only reason that Cameron's now infamous statement is notable is because he came off as such an insufferable know-it-all in his criticism.


IIRC, Cameron said this while Cano was still in the minors.
   19. NJ in DC Posted: December 15, 2013 at 03:00 PM (#4618412)
Philips is an idiot, but he kinda had a point. Cano didn't have much plate discipline, wasn't fast, wasn't wonderful at second, and didn't hit home runs. Dave Cameron famously slagged him, but he wasn't the only one

This is just a reminder that Cano made it to the Majors in May 2005. In '04, he hit .301/.356/.497 in one of the toughest parks/leagues to hit in at AA Trenton for 74 games and then when promoted to AAA he hit .259/.316/.403...but with a .265 BABIP. He was 21 at the time. He then opened '05 back in AAA and hit .333/.368/.574. He also hit over .300 and slugged over .500 in his winter league season in between those two years, IIRC. The negativity/doubts surrounding Cano at the start of his ML career say more about scouting biases than they do about Cano, IMO. I made a lot of incorrect calls in my blogging career and I ended up underselling him myself, but I will always be proud that I said Cano was a .290/.350/.470 guy.
   20. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 15, 2013 at 03:07 PM (#4618415)
The Yankees, of course, "locked down" the second-base position for years and years by signing Tony Womack in 2004. I don't think Cano was in their succession plans at the time.
   21. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 15, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4618416)
Anyone who has worked a day in the real world is familiar with the actual utility of "look busy!"

Some of the busiest people I know actually get the least amount of stuff done.
   22. Jim Wisinski Posted: December 15, 2013 at 03:49 PM (#4618438)
I have no idea why the hell I was wasting my time in such a pointless way but after Womack was signed I spent a bunch of time on the Scout.com Yankee board arguing with Yankee fans that the Yankees were being stupid by signing Womack instead of giving Cano a shot (I was the one who thought Womack was a total waste of time). Cano was far from a sure thing at that time but he was still likely to be better than Womack and he had upside.
   23. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 15, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4618453)
Does Womack have the longest career of any hitter who never OPS+'d 100 in a full season?
   24. Morph Posted: December 15, 2013 at 04:28 PM (#4618457)
If I recall, the Yankees seemed to realize they made a mistake signing Womack after noticing Cano's improvement from the previous season's Spring Training. I remember reading quotes from Torre about how Robinson Cano would be a consistent .300 hitter in the Major Leagues, and getting very hyped. (knew nothing about prospects at the time. I just assumed, well, it's about time the Yankees developed another awesome player) Actually, Bernie Williams' terrible defense was more of an explanation for the early May call-up. The Yankees switched Matsui (!) to centerfield and moved Womack to left. It was really insane, in retrospect. The Kenny Lofton trade was atrocious because all they really needed was someone in center to catch a fly ball. Ah, memories. Oh, and despite Womack's woeful offense, I believe it was his inability to consistently turn double plays that also contributed to the Cano gambit*.

*Yes, at the time it was portrayed as a strange move. Chris Russo wondered aloud, "Who is this Canoe?"
   25. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 15, 2013 at 04:28 PM (#4618458)
There has to be a backup C or two that hung on for a thousand years despite never hitting. So let me rephrase: Womack had more than 5000 PAs; that has to be a high for someone who never OPS+'d the league average.
   26. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 15, 2013 at 04:30 PM (#4618461)
As I recall, Chien-Ming Wang was part of that lineup shakeup as well, though I have no recollection of who he replaced. Bernie had thrown that ball from medium CF that rolled halfway to 3B; it was a very visual sign of what we had been talking about on this board for years - that Bernie simply couldn't handle CF anymore.
   27. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: December 15, 2013 at 04:31 PM (#4618462)
Does Womack have the longest career of any hitter who never OPS+'d 100 in a full season?

I would've guessed Mark Belanger, but he managed to hit 100 on the nose in '76; he played 18 years in total, five more than Womack.

Larry Bowa played 16 years; his best OPS+ was 94.

Tommy Corcoran played 18 years (1890-1907) and his best OPS+ was 93.
   28. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: December 15, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4618471)
Bowa's really impressive. It looks like for the last eight years of his career, teams put him in the lineup KNOWING that he would come nowhere close to helping them offensively.

Was he seen as a really great infielder or something?
   29. puck Posted: December 15, 2013 at 04:54 PM (#4618473)
Was he seen as a really great infielder or something?

Sure, look at his fielding percentage.

Edit: Heh, those weren't as great as I remembered, even allowing for lower percentages. I guess the .991 year really stuck in my mind. He was highly regarded with the glove, though. Plus the fiery leader thing.
   30. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 15, 2013 at 05:03 PM (#4618476)
The Yankees, of course, "locked down" the second-base position for years and years by signing Tony Womack in 2004.

Well, for year and year. It was a 2-year contract.
   31. BDC Posted: December 15, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4618478)
fielding percentage.

Edit: Heh, those weren't as great as I remembered


Bowa did hold the career lead in fielding percentage by a SS from 1973, intermittently, till 1996, after which Omar Vizquel took it definitively away. In context, his fielding percentages were pretty impressive, for all that's worth.

There's considerable disagreement between DRA and WAR on Bowa's fielding, with DRA seeing him as being Ur-Jeter bad and WAR reckoning him as very good, especially in his prime. WAR matches Bowa's contemporary reputation a lot better. In retrospect, it's hard to comprehend how Bowa could have kept a job if he was as bad with the glove as Jeter, given that he was so bad a hitter, especially considering that his teams were usually pretty good. But perhaps his managers were complete idiots, and Bowa was the millstone that kept Philadelphia from six pennants and the Cubs from a couple.
   32. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: December 15, 2013 at 06:17 PM (#4618518)
Bowa was the millstone that kept Philadelphia from six pennants and the Cubs from a couple.

His legend lives on.
   33. bookbook Posted: December 15, 2013 at 07:14 PM (#4618543)
This may be the first time I've ever seen moving from New York to Seattle as going into the spotlight.

If he really needs the spotlight to excel, the Mariners are going to regret the big contract.
   34. Walt Davis Posted: December 15, 2013 at 08:25 PM (#4618563)
A-Rod, Melky and Cano.

Hmmm.... :-)
   35. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 15, 2013 at 08:36 PM (#4618567)
Every single day that summer the first three guys through the door and either working out in the gym or on the field were A-Rod, Melky and Cano.


Well, I would imagine A-Rod wanted to graze while the grass was at its freshest. The others, who knows?
   36. RollingWave Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:07 AM (#4618648)
Yeah, the only reason that Cameron's now infamous statement is notable is because he came off as such an insufferable know-it-all in his criticism. The actual substance of what he said about Cano was no different than what a lot of people thought at the time.


I'd think with anyone of us that's even tracked player / prospect for a little while the #1 gold rule would be to never paint yourself in a corner since strange things often happen.
   37. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:21 AM (#4618657)
Yeah, the only reason that Cameron's now infamous statement is notable is because he came off as such an insufferable know-it-all in his criticism.

nope--it's because he refused to admit he was wrong. He continued to call Cano's excellent MLB seasons "a fluke"

see this thread
   38. PreservedFish Posted: December 16, 2013 at 02:47 AM (#4618679)
Enjoyable thread to look back on. So topical - even some Jack Z and Blengino jokes.

Also, in that thread, Ray portrays himself as the voice of moderation and reason by arguing against a strawman ("I'm actually pretty surprised people have been confused by this... [Cano is] not all of a sudden a .370 hitter."), and I criticize him for it. THE SAME EXACT THING HAPPENED THIS MORNING.
   39. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: December 16, 2013 at 05:06 AM (#4618685)
A-Rod, Melky and Cano.

Hmmm.... :-)

Are you going with they are all Latinos, or are you going with "So you are saying Cano does steroids"?
   40. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: December 16, 2013 at 08:42 AM (#4618694)
Cano isn't a lazy player, he's a sloppy player, which is similar but not quite the same.
   41. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:12 PM (#4618830)
Anyone who has worked a day in the real world is familiar with the actual utility of "look busy!"


As always, George Costanza has the answer: "when you look annoyed, people think you're busy"
   42. Ziggy Posted: December 16, 2013 at 12:34 PM (#4618857)
It was only 17 years, but there's a hall of famer who never put up a 100 OPS+ season.

And the answer isn't Ray Schalk. He had an OPS+ of 431 in 1928.
   43. just plain joe Posted: December 16, 2013 at 01:30 PM (#4618909)
Does Womack have the longest career of any hitter who never OPS+'d 100 in a full season?


How soon they forget; Neifi Perez played fewer years than Womack but had more PA's, he never achieved a 100 OPS+ even with the years in Denver.
   44. PreservedFish Posted: December 16, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4618916)
he never achieved a 100 OPS+ even with the years in Denver.


uh...
   45. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 16, 2013 at 07:57 PM (#4619217)
It was only 17 years, but there's a hall of famer who never put up a 100 OPS+ season.

my first guess was Aparicio, but, out of nowhere, he put up a 114 at age 36. He had never been over 96 before that.

So I went with the guy who made the Hall solely on his defense

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