Joel Sherman in yesterday’s NY Post points out that Robinson Cano leaving the Yankees set off a domino of trades for 2nd Basemen in the American League the last two years, and he argues the Chicago Cubs have done the best in getting Ben Zobrist, and the Yankees are the most unsettled of all teams at 2nd. It’s an interesting piece but we disagree on some of his points:
1. Yankees let Robinson Cano go to the Seattle Mariners. Sherman argues Cano is fueling a Seattle bid for the playoffs. But he has a MASSIVE contract paying him to the age of 41. Horrible year for Cano last year (with the belly problems in first half); this year he is dominant again. So far so good for the Mariners but it’s always been the last 5 years of that contract that everyone was worried about.
2. Yankees traded for Starlin Castro from the Cubs to fill their void at 2nd (one year after having temporary, failed solutions there). The Cubs got Adam Warren from the Yanks who’s done well in the pen. Sherman argues that the Cubs “escaped the long money with Castro, whose concentration, conditioning and streakiness concerned the Cubs,” and that “you see the mental lapses at the plate, in the field and on the bases that frustrated the Cubs.”
Disagree with Joel there — first Castro is NOT making big ‘long money’ — his contract is not to be confused with Robinson Cano’s. You can look it up at the bottom of Starlin Castro‘s baseball-reference page but he is making $7 mil/yr to $11.85 mil/yr through 2019 and then the Yankees have an option to retain him for one more year at $15 mil/yr. That seems to be a good contract for the Yanks! Castro is 26 and has given the Yanks good defense at second, speed on the bases, some youth, and good-enough hitting with pop in his bat. There have been some mental mistakes, but he’s not JR Smith or Iman Shumpert. Adam Warren is an excellent pitcher but this seems like a good trade, both sides.
3. The Cubs let go of Castro to get Ben Zobrist from the KC Royals. Rumor had it they’d been shopping Castro for some time — Met fans heard the Mets were going to get him for 2 years. Ben Zobrist has been doing great for the Cubs batting over .330 with an OBP over .430. He’s 35 years old. The KC Royals are at .500 so they no doubt miss him.
4. After losing out on Zobrist, the Mets went out and got Neil Walker from the Pirates. According to Sherman, the Mets ‘briefly reconsidered signing Murphy” after losing out on Zobrist, and then traded for Walker. Walker has been terrific for the Mets with a homerun bat. He is 30 yrs old and is signed for this year only at $10 mil/yr — so it will be interesting if the Mets resign him to a long-term big-money contract.
5. Daniel Murphy went to the Washington Nationals where he has been ON FIRE (as of this writing batting .374 with 11 homeruns) helping Washington to a 3.5 game lead over the Mets. Murphy is 31 and signed a 3-yr contract for $8 mil/yr, $12 mil/yr, and $17 mil/yr. If Murphy costs the Mets the division title or playoffs, and Walker leaves after 1 year, the Mets could be big losers here. But the Mets GM Sandy Alderson is quite adept at figuring out new solutions so we’ll see.
6. After losing Walker, the Pirates installed Josh Harrison as their 2nd baseman. As of this writing he’s batting .315 and doing well — but he’s always done well — in 2012 remember he was an All Star and 9th in MVP voting while playing 2nd, 3rd, SS, and outfield for the Pirates. Also, the Pirates turned Walker into Jon Niese from the Mets — Jonathan is their #2 starter doing well and is signed for up to $11 mil/yr thru next 3 years. Good trade Pirates.