The Yankees won yesterday behind stellar performances from starter AJ Burnett and second baseman Robinson Cano so naturally they were the subject of quite a few stories today. Joel Sherman of the NY Post had a particularly good one that you should check out.
In Cano’s piece he discussed how rarely the Yankees offer their young players longterm contracts, but in Cano’s case they made an exception and it looks like it will pay off:
But the Yanks did commit to Robinson Cano after the 2007 season and before what would have been his first arbitration hearing. The guaranteed portion of the contract was just four years at $28 million, but included club options for 2012 at $14 million and 2013 at $15 million.
Cano would have been in arbitration all of these years and a free agent after the 2011 season if the contract were not signed. So, at this point, this looks like a money saver for the Yankees. For at this point, Cano has the look of someone who has graduated from a very good player to something more special than that.
In the part about Burnett, Sherman notes how since 2008 he has been a different than he was early in his career:
But Burnett said something in spring training that really struck me. He explained that it was ridiculous and unacceptable that a pitcher with his skill had managed just to win 100 games overall and be just 100-85 for a decade-long career. He sounded not like a con man, but like a talented pitcher who maybe had a light go on about maximizing that talent.
He is 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA this season. But maybe we should take a step back now and notice that Burnett is actually 34-19 with a 3.94 ERA since the beginning of the 2008 season. So he is 15 games over .500 for that period in a career in which he is just 18 over. More important, the once fragile Burnett has made 72 regular-season starts in that period. Only three pitchers have made more: Detroit’s Justin Verlander and Atlanta’s Derek Lowe, who have 73 each, and his teammate, CC Sabathia, who has 74.
Even though they still have to manage to keep up their performances for it to make a difference, but the Yankees took some big risks with Cano and Burnett by giving them such huge contracts. It was no guarantee that Cano would mature into this player and Burnett could very well have been the next Carl Pavano. However, both have taken their careers very seriously and the Yankees are reaping all of the benefits.
Yes, Burnett can still be inconsistent and Cano will occasionally be a streaky hitter, but Cano has carried this team early this season with both Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez under-performing. Burnett has also pitched quite a few very important innings and it appears that he will be ready to pitch quite a few more. Every now and then he has a clunker, but when he is on nobody can hit him.