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Mariano Rivera would prefer Dustin Pedroia as his second baseman over Robinson Cano

May 6, 2014, 8:38 AM EST

Chicago White Sox v New York Yankees Getty Images

It’s moot because (a) Mariano Rivera doesn’t play baseball for a living anymore; and (b) even if he did, Robinson Cano doesn’t play for the Yankees anymore. But if you think those two little facts are going to get in the way of these quotes from Rivera’s new book blowing up big, you’re not familiar with the Red Sox-Yankees Industrial Complex.

First, his thoughts on Cano, excerpted by the New York Daily News:

“This guy has so much talent I don’t know where to start . . . There is no doubt that he is a Hall of Fame caliber (player). It’s just a question of whether he finds the drive you need to get there. I don’t think Robby burns to be the best … You don’t see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players.”

Then, on Dustin Pedroia:

“Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for 27 outs. It’s a special thing to see. If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman.”

Others in and around the Yankees have questioned Cano’s motivation and effort in the past and Pedroia has long been praised for his passion and intensity and all of that. Obviously they’re both great players, each has proven that if they’re your starting second baseman you can win a World Series and debates will rage for years about who was better. Personally, I’d take Cano’s durability and production over Pedroia’s, I’d take Pedroia’s contract over Cano’s and if I had one game to pick only one to be in there I’d wonder how in the hell that set of impossible and hypothetical circumstances came to be.

But such nuances are lost when it comes to this sort of thing. I expect reporters to try to put both Cano and Pedroia on the spot about this. I expect it to be portrayed as a big controversy as opposed to some mildly interesting comments in the course of a long book and I expect at least one sort of outraged and ridiculous column to come of it assassinating one of the three principles’ character in all of this. Maybe two.

Put simply: I expect this to go like every other silly Yankees-Red Sox dustup. Which is OK, because those are kind of fun.

  1. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 6, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    He didn’t say he would pick Frodo over Cano. He said he would have a tough time doing it. I have a tough time waking up in the morning, but here I am shaved and showered, procrastinating on a baseball blog.

    • zzalapski - May 6, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      Man, you definitely procrastinate The Right Way. A lot of us wouldn’t even bother to shave and/or shower before going onto HBT.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 6, 2014 at 9:08 AM

        I only get paid for procrastinating if I do it at work while maintaining the illusion of professionalism.

    • Kevin S. - May 6, 2014 at 9:45 AM

      Random, but I’m not so sure your moniker still applies.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 6, 2014 at 10:08 AM

        while the name has stayed the same for a few years, it has certainly evolved in terms of interpretative possibilities.

    • jrob23 - May 6, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      I know, such click bait awful writing huh?

  2. zengreaser - May 6, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Hack yellow journalism. Sure, saying he would take Pedroia over anyone implies that he wouldn’t take Cano, but unless those two paragraphs are back-to-back in that book then you, Craig (as well as whatever clown wrote the ESPN article), are putting words in Rivera’s mouth. I love how you go on about how somebody will inevitably turn this into an issue while you sit there and write a headline that is 100% false.

    • gloccamorra - May 6, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      Craig was just giving us a heads-up on what will come down later. His prediction of a character assassination column is spot on, since he knows the NY/Boston sports press don’t need no paragraph proximity to do what they’re (in)famous for. Instead of getting all hoity-toity on us, just grab some popcorn and watch.

      • tved12 - May 6, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        I think what zengreaser is pointing out is the irony. Craig writes an article about how people will overreact and write an article about this “controversy” all the while he never points out that he’s the one stirring the pot.

        Notice that Craig never says in the article whether the two paragraphs are back-to-back, or if they’re in totally separate sections of the book. If he were simply pointing out that it could create a controversy he could have called it out and said, “Even though these paragraphs aren’t even close to each other in the book, somebody will take it as…”

  3. thetoolsofignorance - May 6, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    I wonder if Rivera is using defence as his over all gauge between the two?
    Looking at BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, PA/9 years, E4 & ROE (times the player reached base on E4)
    Cano- .309/.355/.502/.857/125, 5791, 89 and 62 ROE over 9/10 years,
    Pedroia- .301/.369/.451/.820/116, 4692 PAs, 41 E’s and 27 ROE over 9 years

    I wish defensive metrics were better (and that I understood them), so I’m only using E4 for now. but there isn’t much debate when you look at offence objectively. Cano hits better, for more power and is there more often. Pedroia though is not far behind offensively but light years ahead defensively. in the end, no matter which young man you had on your team you would be very happy with him but I can see a 3 out closer liking the better defensive player.

    Its the Cabrera/Trout argument, repackaged

    • jrob23 - May 6, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      Cano was aided by a short left field porch and small ballpark period over the years. Fenway, while short in left, takes a shot to get over the wall. Despite that, they are still pretty close. Now that Cano is no longer in NY you see his .383 slugging percentage and well, that is proof enough that he was aided big time by his ballpark and if you factor in leadership, defense, and production all together Dustin is the easy choice. Especially if you also take his injury he played through last year and I have a feeling is still trying to get back to 100% with.

      • Kevin S. - May 6, 2014 at 3:31 PM

        Robinson Cano at home as a Yankee: .305/.351/.507
        Robinson Cano on the road as a Yankee: .312/.359/.503

        You were saying?

  4. drewsylvania - May 6, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    @zengreaser I love how you jumped on Craig on the *idea* that the two sentences aren’t juxtaposed. Congrats, sir.

    • zengreaser - May 6, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      So you’re saying that it’s ok to fashion a headline that conveys an idea that might not be true, but it’s not ok to call someone out for doing so? Because last time I checked, no one has read the book yet. And so this article is being based off another that is equally lacking in context and clarity.

      • lukedunphysscienceproject - May 6, 2014 at 10:21 AM

        All you’re doing is playing into Craig’s hands. He is doing exactly what every media outlet in NY, Boston and everywhere else is going to do with Mariano’s comments, and you are showing exactly how everyone is going to react. His article is the experiment, and you are the result.

  5. drewsylvania - May 6, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    In Boston, we take Pedey for granted, but he’s the soul of the team.

  6. TheMorningStar - May 6, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Mariano forgot to mention Pedroias’ K is waaay more reasonable than Cano’s.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 6, 2014 at 10:13 AM

      Cano should get extra points for having two thumbs.

      • TheMorningStar - May 6, 2014 at 10:32 AM

        And what would Cano’s stats be if, like Pedroia for the padt few seasons, he only had one working properly?

        My guess is that his stat line would be zero because he would be on the DL, unlike Pedroia who plays regardless of injury, and plays well in spite of it.

        But give Cano some credit for staying healthy all these years; he rarely misses games.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 6, 2014 at 10:59 AM

        I’m not trying to take anything away from Pedroia for playing through his injury. I am just saying that if I am banking on one or the other going forward, the guy without a chronic thumb injury would probably get a few extra points in my estimation.

        While we know about Pedroia’s injury, I have to imagine that Cano has played through his fair share as well. Nobody gets through 162 without playing some of me hurt.

      • TheMorningStar - May 6, 2014 at 12:19 PM

        Good points you make. I agree.

    • Kevin S. - May 6, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      You act like Cano’s K rate isn’t well below league average. It is.

      As for the thumb injury, that’s the whole thing – Cano gets criticized because he isn’t reckless with his body the way Pedroia is, but that keeps him on the field and producing every day. Pedroia’s not a glass man out there, but Robinson Cano hasn’t missed more than three games since 2006.

  7. lukedunphysscienceproject - May 6, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    It’s already started. Headline on ESPN New York:

    “Mo Rivera: I’d pick Pedroia over Cano”

    See, Craig? That’s just lazy journalism on your part. If you really wanted to get Zengreaser worked up, you would have invented a Mo quote to use as your headline.

  8. SBoy - May 6, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    This is a legitimate critique of Cano and comparison to Pedroira… It’s been made for years by some fans and broadcasters and usually discredited by Cano supporters as being unfair or inaccurate. Rivera, who clearly respects Cano’s talent, making the claims, gives them some credibility and another reason why the Yanks were smart to not go 10/240 with Cano.

  9. genericcommenter - May 6, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    Production > passion when it comes to things like winning at baseball games. Sure, there are some things in life where you go the other route.

  10. disgracedfury - May 6, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Some people don’t have the drive to win big and as you saw in the 2012 postseason Cano didn’t have it.LeBron has that too.Not saying Lebron not a winner but compared to Jordon in the postseason there is a major difference.Jordon played like his hair was on fir.

    This is Mo talking and not some fan.Cano is light years more talented but will not be a major champion.

  11. csbanter - May 6, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    Cano may annoy people with his body language on the field but the man comes to play. There are many players that go onto have great careers without wearing emotions on their sleeves. Jeter is a perfect example. He’s never been a rah-rah type of guy but rather someone that goes about his business to do his job. Cano is the same.

    • veracityguy - May 7, 2014 at 6:56 PM

      But Jeter doesn’t jog around the bases.

  12. stlouis1baseball - May 6, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    I couldn’t care less about Cono’s mannerism’s. Dude is a solid player. One of the best to be sure.
    That in mind…I am picking Pedroia. I always have and always will. If given my choice of 2nd baseman over the last several years…I would be hard pressed to pick anyone ahead of Pedroia.
    Dude is everything you want in a ballplayer. So much so…I can’t find a weakness!

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 6, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      So much so…I can’t find a weakness!

      Besides recent durability issues, his h/r splits are pretty telling:

      H – .317/.382/.494
      A – .286/.355/.409

      • stlouis1baseball - May 6, 2014 at 1:15 PM

        But he plays through his injuries. And is far better than others at his position while doing so!
        And those splits (to me)…don’t look that bad.

        Compared to others…where we at?

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 7, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        Pedroia:

        H – OPS: .876
        A – OPS: .764

        Cano

        H – OPS: .856
        A – OPS: .858

        He’s still a good hitter, but taking Mo’s comment about “needing a 2b for one game”, if you are picking Pedroia, I’d hope you are playing at Fenway.

  13. alankelly2013 - May 6, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    This is new, or at least it has been a long time, for us out here in Seattle to watch a player of Robinson Cano’s caliber play day in and day out. I personally am enjoying it very much. I would put him in the same class as Junior and Edgar. Great players that are a joy to watch. Cano amazes me with his athletic ability at 2nd base. Sure he doesn’t make every play, but its close. And he makes plays on balls that when you’re watching doesn’t seem like its going to be possible, but he makes the play and makes it look easy. As for hustle on every play, he’s like junior, he hustles when it matters. He turns singles into doubles and doubles into triples when the opportunity arises, but probaly doesn’t bust it down the line on every a 4-3 ground out. But its not like he’s slow either, he’s one of those great and smooth athletes that move faster than they appear. I’ll be interested to see how this Mariner thing develops. He has definiatey been the leader this young team has needed up to this point and I don’t know of anyone here who is sad we have him or is ready to send him back. Plus it has been kind of fun to hear all the whining from New York.

  14. kevinbnyc - May 6, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    A guy who’s 5’2″ is always going to look like he’s trying harder. It’s not some burning desire to be the best. It’s just physics.

  15. gatorprof - May 6, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    Mo is entitled to his opinion and he has more insight than any of the sportswriters, fans, etc. My guess is that elite “athletes” become very irritated as elite “talents” that don’t maximize their talent to become an all-time great.

    It is an open secret that Robbie didn’t maximize his God given abilities. This isn’t to say that he didn’t work hard, but there is a difference between just working hard and putting in the effort to maximize one’s abilities.

    It is an open secret that the Yankees had to move two very good players (Melky and Bobby) off the roster because they were distracting Robbie with their lack of professionalism. Robbie just isn’t a laser focused type of guy.

    Pedroia is a guy with less ability than Robbie, but clearly maximizes his abilities. He is the Sox’s version of Jeter.

    Given that Mo was also a guy with less than elite physical gifts who worked himself into an all time great, does his commentary on Robbie surprise anyone?

    • alankelly2013 - May 6, 2014 at 4:34 PM

      Cano was not a highly touted prospect when he came to the Yankees but he was able advance himself thru every level of their minor league system and turn himself into a superstar major leaguer. That in itself is a huge accomplishment and it was not done without a lot of work. The Mariners (coaches, players, management, and fans) have been blown away by Robinson Cano’s hard work. It has been a real eye opener for the young Mariners watching him go about his business every day from the first day of spring training on.

      • gatorprof - May 7, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        Nonsense, Robbie was always considered to be a good prospect, then top 10 2B prospect within two years.

        I never said that he didn’t work hard, but he doesn’t have the drive and passion to be the best. Mo basically stated what had become obvious to the Yankee fans over the years. HOF talent, but not HOF drive. No harm there, but you just don’t pay a guy 240M$ for less than HOF talent AND drive.

        Unfortunately, you are seeing this first hand. Robbie got paid and Robbie pretty poor April historically. Go and look at his splits for April for the past 3 years. He is -0.200+ down on OPS over 2011-2013.

        Are you happy with the fact that almost 20% through the season, Robbie Cano and Brian Roberts have the same number of HRs (1)

        Are you happy that Robbie is slugging .387 and is now considered a below average defender?

        I am more excited about watching Zunino develop.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 7, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      It is an open secret that the Yankees had to move two very good players (Melky and Bobby) off the roster because they were distracting Robbie with their lack of professionalism.

      Melky was average to replacement level with the Yanks, he wasn’t “very good”. And who is Bobby, Abreu?

      • gatorprof - May 7, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        Google is a wonderful tool to hide one’s ignorance on a topic.

        http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Bobby%2C+Abreu

        Your point about Melky is an understatement. Anytime a 2nd year player turns in a 3 WAR season, a team is quite happy with that value.

  16. veracityguy - May 7, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    Cano has a world of talent and I’m sure he puts in his work in the batting cage. But as a Yankee fan, there is absolutely no comparison as to hustle between Pedroia and Cano. I have been coaching kids baseball for 22 years and if I had to pick a player to emulate it would be Pedroia. None of the kids I coached will probably ever make it to the majors.(although many have played in college) They won’t have Cano or Pedroia’s talent. But it doesn’t take talent to hustle on every play and when I see a kid do that I know at least he learned to play the game the right way.

  17. Lee Durocher - Jun 20, 2014 at 8:57 PM

    More fire for the Yanks-Sox rivalry. It is interesting to hear a Yankee legend, such as Rivera, want a Red Sox (Pedroia) as his 2nd baseman. Both Cano and Pedroia are great. In terms of power, the edge goes to Cano. As for heart and passion, Pedroia is the man. Regardless, I would have a tough time selecting whom I would want as my man at 2nd. Is Joe Morgan still around?

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