by John Saban (@JohnSaban)
Forget another country, Robinson Cano is playing on another planet in the World Baseball Classic.
As many baseball fans have been watching, the World Baseball Classic is heating up post-opening round, and as expected, the Dominican Republic’s offense is the best in the tournament.
The Dominican offense is led by Robinson Cano, who is fourth in overall batting for the tournament.
Cano is hitting .632 (12-for-19) with one RBI and two runs scored. It’s tough to say if he is the biggest bat in a stacked Dominican lineup that is filled with Major Leaguers, but he is certainly one of the best hitters.
Not only is this encouraging for the Dominican Republic squad and their fans, but New York Yankees fans are just as encouraged by the hot bat of their second baseman.
Unfortunately, the World Baseball Classic hasn’t been as friendly to the USA and Cano’s New York teammate, Mark Teixeira. The first baseman injured his wrist when he was swinging a bat with team USA, and was announced to be out for 8-10 weeks.
That was just the tip of the iceberg for the Yankees this spring. The team also had outfielder Curtis Granderson hit on the forearm, which will keep him off of Joe Girardi’s lineup card for five weeks to start the season.
Additionally, veteran shortstop Derek Jeter is coming back from a broken ankle that occurred during last year’s postseason.
With two key players out for an extended period of time, and the team leader bouncing back from a serious injury, the Yankees enter 2013 with a knot in their stomach about the upcoming campaign.
Fortunately, closer Mariano Rivera has looked sharp after being out last season with a knee injury. The reverse side to that coin is that the future Hall of Famer has announced that he will call it quits after 2013.
Cano, 30, is entering his final year under contract with the Yankees and is due to make $15 million in 2013. A major storyline, and one of the biggest concerns for New York heading into the season, is the contract situation of Cano.
Needless to say, after a nightmare of a spring, the Bronx Bombers have far more concerning storylines than expected.
With Teixeira and Granderson both out, that means that the play of Cano will be under a microscope. It could also be argued that he will lack protection in the lineup without the missing faces protecting him in the order.
On top of the injuries in Spring Training, Alex Rodriguez won’t play anytime in the immediate future.
With all of those problems snowballing for the Yankees, it is easy to say that they will be more than glad to be done with Spring Training.
This season will not only be a difficult season for baseball’s ‘Evil Empire’, but also for Cano. He is, hands down, one of the best hitters in all of the major leagues. Although, this season will have the weight of Yankee nation on their second baseman’s shoulders.
Every time a big name player enters acontract year, there is pressure. Add in key injuries to a squad that doesn’t take losing well, and it can add pressure to all 25-year olds.
Last season, Cano hit .313 with thirty-three home runs and 94 RBIs, which is unparalleled average and power, all in one.
So what should fans expect from Cano in 2013?
In my opinion I think the pressure won’t get to him; he is too good of a hitter. I don’t expect him to be fazed by the added pressures.
I think the key to the Yankees this season is their leader, Derek Jeter. As Jeter goes, the Yanks will go. He is that irreplaceable. If he can successfully bounce back, they should be fine.
Now what should fans expect from the Yankees in 2013?
I’ve said it all along, even before the injury bug bit, the Yankees WILL NOT make the playoffs in 2013. With the improvements made North of the border and the emergence of the Orioles last year, along with the Rays and Red Sox, the Yankees are now in one of the toughest division in all of the MLB.
Now, there is a flip side to the injuries also, that isn’t being talked about. Yes, the Yankees are aging and fighting off injuries in Spring, but that’s the best time to be injured. Because the team is older, it could prove beneficial in the dog days of summer as some players will have had rest. The Yankees will just need to find a way to patch up the boat until then, and tread water.