Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cano's Out; This Could Get Ugly

This is what I heard on the way home from work today, prompting me to slam my head into the steering wheel. Then the guy in front of me, thinking I was honking at him, slammed on his brakes, stuck his arm out the window and extended his middle finger (the Jersey horn). This, coupled with the Cano news, was nearly cause for me to ram the guy into oblivion (I drive a Jeep, he a Neon). Thankfully, reason kicked in at the 11th hour.

This news has two ramifications. First, Miguel Cairo will become an everyday player, a scenario that scares most Yankees fans with a working knowledge of baseball. His .230/.294/.300 line is atrocious by any measure, though a (weak) argument can be made as to a relatively small sample size (100 AB), and inconsistent playing time. Those same people will harp back on Cairo’s 2004, which was an aberration to end all aberrations. If he was hitting out of the nine hole, this problem wouldn’t be so egregious. However, Torre has made a habit of batting him second, which defies all logic. Even amidst a slump, Melky Cabrera has still managed a .341 OBP, which is much more impressive when attached to his .250 BA. The translation is that even when he’s slumping and not getting his hits, he’s still finding ways to get on base.

The second ramification is the team’s offensive production. Despite the injuries, the Yankees still boast one of the finest offenses in the league. However, they’re going to have to rely on a guy named Rod to step up and make up for Cano’s bat for a couple of weeks. That, my friends, isn’t a likely scenario. I’d love nothing more than to be proven wrong, but Rod doesn’t seem like the kind of guy you can count on consistently. This is why many people – the most persistent of whom being my father – think Rod will never win a championship. I beg to differ. He’ll win one if he just so happens to catch fire late in the postseason. It’s almost as if he can’t turn it on and off at will like other players faced with dire situations; rather, his intensity and production comes and goes at random. The only thing working in Rod’s favor now is that absent a few sweet-ass games lately, he’s been cold as can be. He is proverbially due.

So we’re replacing Cano’s .325/.353/.439 with Cairo’s .230/.294/.300, which is demonstrably terrible. Worse yet, however, is that we’re replacing Cairo’s .230/.294/.300 with Nick Green’s .077/.200/.077. Yes, that’s a health 3 for 39 with zero extra base hits. His six walks, however, is just short of Cairo’s eight, and in 61 less at bats.

What baffles me, however, is the linear thought process employed by Cashman and Co. on this one. Nick Green hit .208/.316/.292 at Columbus, which I can say with all certainty will not translate into any degree of Major League success. Carlos Pena, however, has belted the ball to the tune of .258/.402/.431 (.173 ISO). Why not call him up (he’s been itching for another shot), and slide Phillips over to second? He can’t be much worse than Cano with the leather, and is light years ahead of Cairo with the stick. This would allow Giambi to DH and Pena to get a shot at first base. And when Cano returns, you have a few options, one of which is including Pena in a trade should he heat up. Hopefully this move is made after a few days of Cairo’s predictable ineptitude.

Thankfully, the Braves are still on the schedule, and they’re just plain terrible. Even without Cano, anything less than a sweep would be a disappointment.

(Well, it appears that Jeter is batting second. My foot is tasty.)