Friday, January 11, 2013

"Let Cano Spread His Wings and Fly" -- Huh?

Robinson Cano's impending contract extension or free agency, has been a recurring theme in the minds of Yankees fans over the past year, or so. A rising number of Yankees fans are growing tired of Cano's salary demands, with thoughts akin to: if he doesn't want to be a Yankee at all costs, let him go. It's unclear why an audible amount of Yankees fans can't appreciate having one of the best 2nd basemen of all time, entering his 30's.

It's wise to be wary of your favorite team overpaying for a player's past-prime years, but it's another thing to criticize one of your team's homegrown stars, citing poor defense, his style of play, or other nitpicked flaws.

Where will Robinson Cano play in 2014? Mystery team?

Last night, a fan posted a comment which adds to this sentiment, on the Yankees MLBtradeRumors Facebook fan page, which I monitor for the great guys at MLBTR. The comment:

"Let Cano spread his wings and fly away. The perfect 2nd baseman;the complete package is the Reds' 2nd base Phillips. A beast in defense. Get that guy and let Cano away in New York."

Far be it from us to poke fun as a person's honest opinion. This passionate Yankee fan, in particular, is probably someone we don't want to mess with. His Facebook profile says he's the body guard of Miss Venezuela. Even if that's not true, I don't want to mess with any guy who puts that on their profile page.

I wonder if she knows Wilson Ramos.

What he said isn't completely insane. Phillips is a 2-time All-Star, won a Silver Slugger award, 3 Gold Gloves, and received MVP votes in two seasons where he did not win any awards. It's just unlikely to be correct and, more to the point, an example of how our passion as fans can blind us from the clarity of reality.

Robinson Cano is also a good defensive player; he is sure-handed, with a very strong arm. Cano is a better hitter than Brandon Phillips. He has more power, hits for a higher average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and every other percentage.

Robinson Cano has the type of hitting skills that age gracefully. Much more gracefully than Phillips, who projects as an aging 20/20 threat who will hit .240 with a sub-.330 OBP, hitting HR's in the teens, with fewer stolen bases, in his mid-30's. Cano should age more like a "professional hitter" who can still hit .280 through his 40th birthday.

Care to talk Win Shares? Robinson Cano has one more Win Share (98) in the past three seasons than Brandon Phillips has in the past five seasons (97).

"Man, I ain't here to talk about no Win Shares."

We've probably already spilled a few too many words here than this debate deserves. If pictures may do the talking, the next two graphs, courtesy of Fangraphs, should help. They show the trends of wOBA for Phillips and Cano.

The first one has the year on the X axis:

The second graph has the player's age season on the X axis. Notice that Brandon Phillips is older than Cano.

As we can see, there is little to no visual evidence suggesting that Brandon Phillips will outperform Robinson Cano at any time.

Are there other Yankee fans out there who don't want Cano to come back? What's a fair contract for him? We would love to hear from you in the comments section. Thanks!

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