The timing of today’s guest post worked out pretty well. The Pinch Hitter schedule was set weeks ago, and Pete’s about moving on from Robinson Cano just happened to run on the very day that the Yankees are officially introducing Masahiro Tanaka.
If this day isn’t about moving forward, I don’t know what is.
For the most part, I agree with Pete’s four keys to the Yankees making a serious playoff run without Cano. They need their returning players to have much better seasons than they had last year. They need their inexperienced pitchers to perform well. They will eventually need a minor leaguer to plug a hole (and actually perform). And a repeat of last year’s injuries would, of course, be catastrophic.
Mostly, though, I think the key here is that no one player is going to replace Cano. The Yankees certainly don’t have a second baseman who’s at Cano’s level, and as you sort through this revamped lineup, there’s no longer a clear-cut, no-argument, best hitter on the team. Even the rotation might not have a definite No. 1. CC Sabathia is still the ace — he still carries that label, still seems a lock for Opening Day — but it seems possible that any one of the Yankees top four starters could have the team’s best year on the mound (top five if you’re incredibly optimistic about Michael Pineda).
Tanaka is going to get a lot of attention, beginning with today’s fourth introductory press conference of the offseason. There’s going to be a ton of focus on Sabathia, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira as spring training opens. All of the new guys are carrying extremely high expectations. Dave Robertson is being asked to fill a set of unfillable shoes. Even guys like Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts — bottom-of-the-order role players on this roster — carry importance because of who they’re replacing.
I’m reminded of something David Cone said at last week’s Munson Awards Dinner.
“It’s going to be a much more interesting lineup, a much more dynamic lineup,” Cone said. “… Certainly a much more interesting team. Better is going to be up for grabs.”
Associated Press photo