Hand picking a team to win right now and remain competitive in the future, money being no issue, how many second basemen would you chose ahead of Robinson Cano? Is Chase Utley the only one? I’m sure there are some would prefer Dustin Pedroia or Ian Kinsler — and I’m positive everyone back home in Sikeston, Missouri would choose Blake DeWitt — but Cano ranks right up there at the top, clearly behind Utley but in the conversation for the second-best second baseman in the game. Not bad for a 27-year-old.
Starter: Robinson Cano
Backup: Ramiro Pena
Veteran insurance: none
Almost ready: Kevin Russo, Reegie Corona
Low rising: David Adams, Corban Joseph
Cano is in place, but the Yankees don’t have a veteran second baseman behind him. Pena is an outstanding defensive player with solid speed and a bat that might be improving, but he will probably never be an especially good offensive player. If something were to happen to Cano and the Yankees needed more than a spot start at second, Russo would be the better option (in my opinion). He really showed a lot in Triple-A last year and seems more advanced than Corona. Kudos to the Yankees for not feeling the absolute need to grab a proven middle infielder who brings little to the table other than experience. Standout second base prospects are rare — and I wouldn’t call any of the young Yankees second basemen superstars — but there is a long line of nice young second basemen coming through the system.
Worst-case scenario: It’s obvious isn’t it? Cano goes down — or falls into a funk like he experienced at the start of 2008 — and none of the young Yankees are able to handle the job. At some point, a team has to trust it’s young players, especial in a backup role, but that transition always comes with a risk.
Best-case scenario: Wouldn’t everyone involved be happy with a repeat of 2009? If Cano once again hits .320 with 25 home runs and 48 doubles, the Yankees might have the most productive No. 7 hitter in the game. If Russo repeats as the best lead-off hitter in the International League, the Yankees will have a legitimate middle infielder begging for an everyday job in the big leagues. If Adams and Joseph each get a promotion and succeed at the next level, they’ll begin looking like Top 10 organizational prospects. Last year was a good year for Yankees second basemen. If it ain’t broke…
The future: Cano is signed through 2013, and the Yankees can buyout either of the last two years. Basically, the ball is in their court. Cano is going to get pretty expensive in those last few years, but he’s under the Yankees control. They can decide whether he’s worth it, and by the time they have to make that decision, the Yankees should know what they have in their up-and-coming second basemen. Most like, the future looks a lot like the present, but the Yankees have some options.
An attempt at the complete depth chart
An educated guess, but just a guess
Scranton: Reegie Corona
Trenton: David Adams
Tampa: Corban Joseph
Charleston: Jimmy Paredes
Extended: Emerson Landoni (or he might be a utility type in Charleston)
Where’s Russo? As it stands, the Triple-A roster is going to have a lot of mix-and-match going on in the infield. My guess is, Russo will get most of his starts at third base while Corona gets most of his time at second. They just fit those positions a little better, but if the big league club needs a second baseman, I still think Russo would get the call ahead of Corona. Also, you might know the name Damon Sublett as a second base prospect, but he moved to the outfield last year.