Joel Sherman of the New York Post is the best baseball writer in New York, and possibly all of America. He looks at scenarios well before most writers do. Many times I have written a piece or had a thought and a day or two later, Sherman has a similar type article or comment on his blog.
A couple weeks ago, Sherman polled seven baseball executives and all of them said if they had the choice of Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia or Robinson Cano for the next five years, they would take Pedroia.
The main reason? Pedroia’s “intangibles” outweigh Cano’s talent. Here are some quotes from the article: “Pedroia has better makeup and gives his all every day,” an NL exec said. “On natural ability, Cano tops the list. But Pedroia is a winner and a leader.”
Now, Dustin is definitely a winner (2007 World Series title and 2008 MVP) and he is a leader. His outgoing personality and scrappy play gives incentive for other players on the team to perform at a 100% level. Very similar to how Derek Jeter plays the game, although Jeter is a “winner” many more times than Pedroia. The current Yankee squad has tons of leaders such as Yankee veterans Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, plus newcomers Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia.
Players like Cano do not have to be leaders on this Yankee team. Actually, Alex Rodriguez seems to be the “Latin leader” for players such as Cano and Melky Cabrera, who have idolized A-Rod since the C&C boys came into the big leagues.
Actually, Pedroia’s number are pretty much down across the board from last season, and almost the same as his rookie year. And, more importantly, his team is six games BEHIND Cano’s team in the standings.
Does this make Cano a winner now, too? His team is in first place, and looks like the team to beat in October.
But, Cano has had a tremendous season in2009, playing great Gold Glove type defense and putting up numbers just below all his career high except for batting average. His glove is second to none at his position, and his range is so good that he regularly gets to balls up the middle no other second baseman will, and “flips” the ball with his strong throwing arm to make the defensive highlight reel.
Many people love the way Pedroia dives for balls, gets dirty and looks like the “old school” ballplayer. I do, too, but sometimes lack of range forces defenders to have to dive.
Cano also turns the double play better than any other second sacker. Not even a close second.
And his “intangibles” are tremendous also. Witness yesterday’s five run inning against the Chicago White Sox. With the Yankees leading 3-2 and a leadoff runner on first, Cano grounds a sure double play ball, but hustles his ass down the line and beats the relay throw.
Cano’s hustle saved the inning, and with now only one out, the Yankees rallied for five runs to ice a very close, one-run contest.
Intangibles – check. Talent – check. Great defense – check.
I have not seen Pedroia play more than 20 games this season, but have seen him against the Yankees for the last three seasons, in addition to the playoffs. But I have seen Cano play almost every game this season and I have seen much more this season than in his past.
No offense to Pedroia because he is a really good baseball player, but I like Cano’s talent better.
And Cano has intangibles, too. And those intangibles helped the Yankees win yesterday’s game.