You don’t have to bleed pinstripes to notice the Ed-uar-do Nun-ez chant doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as the Der-ek Jeet-er. And if a fellow fan came up to you on the street and asked: “Who’s playing 3rd base for us right now?” you couldn’t be mad at them (because that’s a tough question). It’s a difficult time for us fans, and we’re looking for a reason to believe we can ride out and survive this injury bug.
Although the team is only a couple games out of first, these goddamn injuries have us watching games through our fingers, knowing the next player could go down this inning. The bullpen that once was a strongpoint of our team is now made up of guys like Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne, with Boone Logan as our setup man. Tell me that doesn’t make your stomach a little uneasy.
Another part of what makes this period in time so difficult for Yankees fans is watching the remains of the old foundation continue to wither away, especially when it doesn’t seem like there is anyone capable of picking up the slack. Vernon Wells is no Curtis Granderson, and Eduardo Nunez is no Derek Jeter. Everyone knows this, and it would be unreasonable to expect more of these backups, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.
You’d think that these injuries would crush New York’s chances of winning the division – and it still may turn out that way – but somehow they keep plugging away and find themselves in the middle of it all.
But how is this possible?
Its Robbie Cano, don’t cha know?
The man leads his team in every offensive category – which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise when comparing him to anyone else on the active roster. We all expect Cano to play like the best position player on the team, because he is. That fact is becoming more apparent now that the infield surrounding him has been reduced to practically nothing. His supporting cast of Jeter, Youkilis, and Teixeira is now Nunez, Nix, and Overbay – of course he is going to shine brighter by comparison.
Here’s a stat I stumbled upon today: Cano has played more games as a Yankee than the other 12 position players on the active roster combined. This bit of information says it all: he is no longer defined as the young, swing-happy second baseman caught in the shadow of Jeter and A-Rod. He is a superstar that has slowly but surely come into his own, and now, by no choice of his own, Robbie Cano has inherited this team — at least for the time being.
It will be interesting to see how Cano handles himself once help starts to arrive around midseason, but until then, he is a leader by default. I think he is finally ready for this role, he has done a great deal of maturing since the Melky Cabrera days when he seemed to lose focus at times. We need him to finally develop into the team leader everyone expects him to be.