Anytime a team loses their best player and arguably one of the best second basemen of all-time, it is never easy to move on. However, the bottom line is that Robinson Cano proved to the New York Yankees that he cannot single-handedly win championships (evident with last season's third place finish in the AL East).
With nearly five-hundred million dollars spent on free agents this offseason, the Yankees are beginning to shape up as a World Series contender. Despite the spending spree, the Yankees infield remains suspect, but the second base position has the potential to become a strength once again.
Before continuing, the answer to the Yankees' hole at second base is not Brian Roberts. At age-36 there is little to no chance this injury-riddled, ex-Oriole can do much to help the team this year and beyond. It is time that the Yankees take the uncharacteristic leap of faith by giving a young, unproven player a chance.
Dean Anna is a career-minor leaguer who, at age 27, is approaching the season that may make or break his baseball career. He does not have the power that Cano possesses, nor the speed of Cleveland Indian's star second basemen, Jason Kipnis. But, Anna does have the propensity to get on base. This trait was evidently effective in St. Louis Cardinals' infielder Matt Carpenter first full major league season.
Carpenter led the league in runs scored by a rather large margin, all at the top two slots of the Cardinals' lineup. With a superb .318/.392/.481 slash to go along with 11 homeruns, 78 RBI, and the league-leading 126 runs scored, Carpenter finished fourth in the NL MVP race.
As a 25-year old minor-leaguer, Carpenter tore apart the Pacific Coast League with a .300/.417/.463 line coupled with 12 homeruns, 70 RBI, and 61 runs scored. In the same league and as a member of the Padres farm system, Dean Anna put up an eerily similar state line of .331/.410/.482 along with 9 homeruns, 73 RBI, and 90 runs scored.
It should be noted that Carpenter had 311 major-league at-bats on his resume prior to his breakout, 2013 campaign. However, that does not mean that Dean Anna, if given the chance, cannot produce excellent numbers for the Yanks.
With Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Derek Jeter likely vying for the two slots atop the lineup, Anna will most certainly not have the opportunity to score anywhere near the 126 runs that Carpenter had in 2013. He could become a serviceable infielder, with the potential to be a pesky bat at the lower third of the lineup.
Last season, he played 72 games at second base, 60 games at shortstop, seven games at third base, as well as two games in the outfield. At second base and shortstop he recorded a .982 and .979 fielding percentage respectively. As a result, he could split time between second and short while giving Jeter and Roberts the rest they will need.
The Yankees will likely give Anna a shot to break camp with the team this spring and Yankee fans can only hope that he does enough to wow the coaching staff. Who knows, maybe the Yankees will finally have their second basemen or shortstop of the future. Maybe even a future MVP candidate, but for now, Anna must seize his opportunity.