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John Farrell ‘a little surprised’ Robinson Cano no longer in pinstripes as Red Sox skipper assesses Yankees

03.19.14 at 10:46 am ET
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TAMPA — For all the talk Tuesday about Jacoby Ellsbury, there is a player absent from the Yankee clubhouse this season that could play just as big a factor this year in the Red Sox-Yankees dynamic.

Robinson Cano signed with the Mariners in December for 10 years and $240 million. The second baseman who broke in with the Yankees in 2005, is a lifetime .304 hitter, with a .509 slugging percentage and a career .860 OPS. Against the Red Sox, he hammered 21 homers, just over 10 percent of his career 205 total, and his other lifetime marks against Boston (.308/.356/.502) are right at his career averages.

“I know one thing, I’m glad we don’t have to face him 19 times,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “From across the field, he was the type of type of player you thought would be in one place for his entire career, as dominant an offensive player, as dominant a player as he’s been, we have full respect of the player. You never know how things are going to transpire. Maybe a little surprised he’s not in a Yankee uniform.”

Cano had a root canal on March 5 but time will tell if the Yankees will need one for their aging infield.

The Yankees are going with the low-budget alternative to start the season at second base in Brian Roberts. Kelly Johnson is a second base/third base option, Mark Teixeira is at first and Derek Jeter will start his final season at short. And, of course, Stephen Drew is still out on the market.

“They’ve got tremendous resources,” Farrell added. “This division is going to be difficult, top to bottom. Teams might go about it differently based on their own model. From the outside, you anticipated some changes. To what extent, that remains to be seen. A lot of new names. A lot of really good players.”

The Yankees decided to spend $471 million on longterm investments in the offseason on four players – namely catcher Brian McCann, starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, outfielder Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury.

“I don’t know if there’s any one guy that stands out more than another,” Farrell said. “I think the one thing that kind of jumps out is the pace in which they got Jacoby. As quick as they moved to sign him, that was the one thing that was [surprising]. That offer obviously had to be so much greater than anything Jacoby was fielding, not knowing anything. To make that decision that quick in the offseason, obviously they were very aggressive going towards him.”

Ellsbury signed for $153 million for seven years in early December, just over a month after the center fielder won his second World Series ring in seven seasons. The media attention this week, with the Red Sox playing the Yankees twice, falls naturally on Ellsbury.

“I don’t know if we have any way of knowing what an individual player’s market is going to be,” Farrell said of his former center fielder. “He was a good player so he was going to draw the attention of a lot big market teams because he’s in that class of player.”

Will the Red Sox have an advantage when it comes to scouting Ellsbury and plotting strategies against him?

“We had the fortunate ability to see him for six years,” Farrell said. “We know where the strengths are. We have a little bit more of an in-house feel of where some of the challenges existed. He’s a damn good player. The more we can keep him off the bases, the less chance he has to create havoc.”

Farrell drew an interesting comparison when asked how he sees the Yankees replacing Mariano Rivera – the most prolific closer in history – with David Robertson.

“You get the best in the history of the game that has gone home. To a lesser extent, I say this with all due respect, we’re not looking to replace Jacoby Ellsbury. We’re looking to be the best team possible. I would venture to say they’re probably looking at things similarly.

“How do you put together a bullpen that is going to secure wins late in the game. They’ve got a very good internal option in David. He’s knows the rigors of this division and the lineups we face in the division here. They’ve got a quality guy in house.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, MLB, New York Yankees
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