(Starlin Castro – Neil Miller / Sportsday Wire)
Robinson Cano left the Yankees three years ago for the Mariners, and that is how long it took the Yankees to find his successor at second base.
After the Yankees tried out short-term fixes like Brendan Ryan and Stephen Drew, General Manager Brian Cashman acquired someone who could be there for a decade, Starlin Castro, from the Cubs this past offseason.
Castro, who played six seasons for the Cubs, is still very young, at just 26 years old. He has a lethal bat, with 11 home runs and 69 RBI last season, and that was with moving from his natural position of shortstop, something that could hurt a player’s hitting.
Castro started off his Yankees career with a bang, as he had two homers and eight RBI in the opening series against the Houston Astros.
Castro is similar to Cano in that they both can hit, but do not have the best defensive abilities. That is ultimately why Castro lost the starting short stop job in Chicago to Addison Russell
The Yankees acquired him mainly for his bat, but they are confident in his defensive abilities and how well he will work with his young counterpart up the middle, Didi Gregorius.
Castro and Gregorius have the potential to grow together and be one of the best pairs up the middle in Yankees history. They are the faces of the next generation of the Yankees, along with first baseman Greg Bird, catcher Gary Sanchez, and outfielder Aaron Judge
Even though the Yankees could not find Cano’s replacement immediately, they looked prudent to not commit so much time and money (10 years, $300 million) to him after seeing how his first two years in Seattle went.
Cano’s numbers were way down, as he hit .314 with 14 home runs and 82 RBI in 2014, and had 21 home runs and 79 RBI, with a .287 average, in 2015. Those home run totals were way down from the 29 homers he hit in 2010, 28 in 2011, 33 in 2012 and 27 in 2013.
Cano has gotten off to a good start this season, with five home runs and eight RBI in the first nine games.
To show long Cano has been away from the Yankees, Joe Girardi said to the question of whether he still actively follows what Cano is up to, “I do follow what our ex-players have done. It’s the third year, so we’re kind of used to seeing him in a different uniform. It was really strange the first year, it was less strange last year, now we just, he’s not here, so we’re used to seeing him in a different uniform.”
Cano and the Seattle Mariners were at The Stadium on Friday night, and Seattle won it 7-1. Cano went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Castro went 1-for-4.
Cano said of Castro before the game, “I always root for anyone, especially Dominican I got a chance to talk to him the last few years, but not right now. He’s good, he’s a guy that, h can play the game, he’s fun to watch, obviously a fan of him with how he was with the Cubs.”
Castro said of watching Cano growing up, “Yeah, yeah, of course, like you see it, this is a really good player.”
On understanding the pressure of being the new star of the Yankees, Castro said, “No, I just don’t put it in my mind, just come in here, try to do my job. I think I know my timing, the player I can be when I’m healthy and that’s what I do. I don’t think about anything that happened in the past, just come in here and try to do my best.”
Cano said of returning to Yankee Stadium, “It’s always gonna be special. Winning my first championship here. When I first came up and playing with a lot of teammates, Hall of Famers, superstars, always will be a lot of good memories…Always going to keep those memories that I have here. It’s where I won the championship, especially the last out, made the last groundball when Mariano (Rivera) was pitching. The guys that gave me the chance, opportunity to play in the big leagues, and that’s something that, I’m not gonna lie, you will never forget, especially the championship.”
Cano said he keeps up with “A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez), CC (Sabathia), (Ivan) Nova sometimes.”