Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – June 28, 2014


The Red Sox lost to the Yankees best pitcher yesterday. It might be time to declare this World Series defense dead.

That might be what saves the 2015 season.

It is a glass half full AND empty episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

Jose Abreu, Freddie Freeman, Johnny Cueto, Chris Tillman, C. J. Cron, Adam LaRoche  and Tyson Ross all added to their totals for Who Owns Baseball.
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A Tale of Two Second Basemen

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America

(The idea of this post came from an exchange with Lisa Swan, co-creator of Subway Squawkers . Follow her on Twitter HERE.)

With all the talk and controversy and hand wringing about Saint Mariano Rivera dropping a few choice quotes from a book he’d like to sell, I decided to put together a little test regarding work ethic, ability and what needs to be in a player’s heart to succeed.

Let’s take two players. Both are second basemen.

One player goes to a major baseball college and becomes a star.

One player is the son of an obscure major leaguer.

The college player becomes a high draft pick and signed for more than $500,000.

The other player is not drafted but signs as an International free agemt for $100,000.

The college player shoots up through the system as a highly touted prospect.

The other player comes to another country. works his way up, rung by rung, never being listed as a top prospect and often overlooked in his own organization. He spent HIS college age years going from the Gulf Coast League to AAA. playing for six teams in five seasons.

The college player is in AAA by his second professional season and being groomed for a big league spot.

The other player sees his numbers slowly increase from a .270 hitter with power in short season A ball to a .333 hitter that the organization can no longer ignore (despite signing big leaguers to play his position.)

Both become All Stars.

The other player plays 159 or more games for 7 straight years.

The college player reaches that number twice in the same amount of time. He puts up solid offensive numbers throughout his career.

The other player, the one who was not the big prospect, winds up hitting for a higher average, more power, a higher OPS and becomes the focal point of the offense.

Both players become World Champions. Both play in multiple post seasons with varying degrees of success. They have some good series and some bad series. Neither ever wins a post season MVP. Both signed long term contracts that will make them extremely rich.

Now which one of those two players worked harder to get to where they were?

Which one of those two players scrapped and pulled to get to the major leagues and which one had the smoother path?

Which one had the bad work ethic?

Of course the college player is Dustin Pedroia and the other player is Robinson Cano.

One is defined as tough and scrappy and the other is talented but lacks the desire or some crap like that.

I wouldn’t call someone who works up through the system to become an elite hitter and a Gold Glove defender, never missing a game and putting up amazing numbers anything but a star. And this is coming from as big a Pedroia fan as you will ever meet.

Oh yeah, one of them called their home town “a dump” that didn’t embrace him in Boston Magazine. Guess which one.

I think the whole “he’s got fire… he doesn’t” argument is silly. It seems to be based on people making the same observation of “He doesn’t run to first fast enough.”

I don’t know, but for me, that is a small price to pay for his production every single game year in and year out. And whatever his method of playing is clearly working. Cano became a terrific major leaguer by any metric, and he worked his butt off to get to that level.

That’s enough burning desire to win for me.

The Yankees and Red Sox rivalry needed Cano and Pedroia

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Red Sox and Yankees renew their rivalry and continue to play and fight in the American League East.

The rivalry however seems to be in a strange state of flux. There is no longer the “Yankees dominating the Red Sox” story line. 2004 put an end to that and the Red Sox have been a more frequent participant in the World Series in recent years.

The “all the superstars sign with these teams” plotline is going away. More and more MVP and Cy Young candidates are sticking with their teams instead of flocking to the Northeast.

And the cast of characters is changing too quickly to get a hold of any storyline. Sure Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli are great Red Sox already, but are they hated by Yankee fans yet? Ellsbury switched sides, but is there any bitterness in the wake of a title for it?

Of course most of the characters from the mid 2000’s are gone. No more Damon on either side. You won’t see Varitek, Manny, Wakefield, Papelbon and Trot with Boston. Bernie, Posada, Pettitte and Mariano are no longer in the Bronx. (I need to double check if Mariano Rivera did in fact retire.)

With A-Rod suspended, the biggest lightning rod is no longer there (and you no longer have the two superstars with PED baggage alone with David Ortiz.)

This being Jeter’s last season, the identity of the Yankees may soon be in flux as will the feel of the rivalry.

 Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America

Those are the reasons why I miss Robinson Cano and his role with the Yankees.

Cano was the homegrown star of the Yankees. And don’t talk to me about him being non chalant or any nonsense like that. He was heads and shoulders the best player on the Yankees for the last few years.

He was good for 160 games a year, a great average, power and a Gold Glove.

He was a so called “real Yankee.” A product of their farm system, he matured as the double play partner of Jeter. And unlike so many on the current roster, Cano won a World Series as a member of the Yankees.

As Jeter, Rivera and Pettitte all either retired or one foot out the door, and the unpleasant spectre of Rodriguez returning for 2015, Cano had the chance to make this HIS team.

Maybe without Jeter to compare him to, Yankee fans would have finally appreciated what a remarkable player they had.

Plus there would be a great comparison that would help spark the rivalry even more as it progresses away from the 2000’s and through the 2010’s. “Who is better? Pedroia or Cano?”

Both are MVP candidates. Both are integral to their team’s title hopes. Both World Champions on their team. Both home grown products. And both with enough experience to be veterans but both young enough to have 4 or 5 more All Star seasons in them.

They would both grow into the faces of their respective franchises and be the focal point of the comparisons.

And without that, there is something subtly missing that could have been remarkable as the Red Sox/Yankee rivalry evolves into a new dynamic. Both sides can and have won titles. No more Curses. Nobody is anyone’s daddy’s. It’s a new Century.

Not that the Yankees should have matched the Mariners insane 10 year deal for Cano. In some ways this is similar to when the Yankees and Red Sox had elite shortstops. Who was bettah? Jeter or Nomar? (Well, A-Rod but that is another blog post.)

In the end the Red Sox were smart not to sign Nomar long term and he was not there for the glory.

The rivalry survived that. But moving forward the two teams need an identity.

Cano vs. Pedroia would have been a nice one.