GEORGE: I’m going to play to Jason’s favorite stereotype of me and say, “I’m of two minds on Cano.” Considering that the pitching staff (including some young arms) doesn’t look too bad over the coming years, holding onto Robby might not be a bad investment. But ten years? No way. The A-Rod contract should be a valuable lesson right there. Try to keep him for the five-to-six-year range. If Boras balks at that, let him defect to the West Coast arms race (Dodgers vs. Angels). Something else to consider: Will Cano be as reliable/mature without having folks like Jeter and A-Rod around? He occasionally slacks off when the big brothers with the rings aren’t nearby to keep him in line.
KLEIN: I feel strongly that the Yankees need to re-sign Cano. This is less a baseball call than an emotional one, as the idea of players spending their whole careers in the Bronx resonates strongly, from Gehrig to DiMaggio to Mantle to Mattingly to Jeter. Cano is a special talent, and special talents should not be allowed to trade in the pinstripes. And hey, it’s not my money.
EPSTEIN: Let’s close our conversation with a lightning round:
1. Who is your favorite Yankee beat writer, columnist, or blogger and why? Do you ever wish you could do that gig in lieu of your current one?
2. Which would be worse: Re-living the same day over and over with a narcissistic groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pa., or locked in the radio booth with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman during a blowout loss?
3. What is your predicted order of finish in the AL East?
BENSON: Sports writers are even more jaded and cynical that political writers, in my experience. I’m glad I can keep sports as a source of fun and escapism in my life, so I don’t see showing up at the ballpark as work. I don’t covet those jobs. Then again, I did four summers of play-by-play broadcasting in the Cape Cod Baseball League during school and really thought that was going to be my career path. I really love calling baseball, and miss it. If John or Suzyn’s job became available and it was somehow magically offered to me, I don’t think I could resist.
Option B. Blowout losses are terrible, but at least you’re at The Stadium in The Big Apple.
The AL East will be talented and wide open, and leave it at that. We haven’t seen a pitch thrown yet, so I won’t even try to list 1-to-5.
KLEIN: I like Tyler Kepner’s depth and fluidity — two qualities the Yankees’ lineup lacks, I might add. I would love to watch baseball every day, but I have a feeling I would hate writing about baseball every hour. So I made the right choice.
The problem with Sterling isn’t the meandering stories during blowouts — it’s the flat-out wrong calls. I can deal with him and Suzyn “bantering.” I can’t deal with, “it is high, it is far, it is . . . caught just shy of the warning track, to end the inning.” And there’s something endearing about the Yankees being down 13–1 and having Sterling tell you, “You know, Suzyn, if Gardner gets on here and the Yankees string together a couple of hits, you know, they’re two grand slams away from being right back in this ballgame. That’s baseball.” Besides, Sterling’s voice reminds me of childhood summers — so he’s by far the better option than Bill Murray’s endless day.
I don’t want to play the prediction game because it’s not fun this year. I will say the Yankees are at best the third-best, and might be the fourth-best, team in the division. But they will finish ahead of the Red Sox!
GEORGE: Forgive me for being a homer, but the Post’s Joel Sherman is my favorite N.Y. baseball columnist, period. He does a great job, clearly does his homework, and is well-sourced at different levels of the game (players, coaches, execs). Years ago, I would have entertained thoughts of following the Yankees around for a season or two. Now, I realize how much work there is involved and I’m quite happy to leave it to the professionals!
Is there a difference between a narcissistic groundhog and John Sterling?
Not sure yet on whether Yankees can get the second wild-card. Haven’t completely game-planned the rest of the league as yet.
EPSTEIN: Thanks again for taking the time, guys. Enjoy Opening Day and good luck with the season!
— Jason Epstein is president of Southfive Strategies, LLC in Washington, D.C., and a contributor to NRO’s Right Field blog.