Tag: Robinson Cano

Cano Becomes 4th Player with 50 Extra-Base Hits in Each of 1st 12 Years

Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano mashed his 50th extra-base hit of the season in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox, per MLB Stat of the Day. He joins Carlos Lee, Albert Pujols and Eddie Mathews as one of just four players in major league history to begin his career with 12 straight seasons of 50 or more extra-base hits.

Even better, Cano’s milestone hit came at the perfect time. His three-run, no-doubt homer to right-center field capped off a five-run eighth inning that propelled the Mariners to a come-from-behind 5-4 victory against a team they may end up battling for a wild-card spot.

Cano’s 24 homers this season already represent his best total through three years in Seattle. And he’s now on pace to hit 37 for the year, which would top his previous career-high mark of 33, set in 2012 during his second-to-last season with the New York Yankees.

He also has 25 doubles and a triple, putting him on pace to finish with 78 extra-base hits, which would be his best total since he had 82 in 2012.

It certainly helps that the 33-year-old second baseman has yet to miss a game, allowing him to rank eighth in the American League in plate appearances (468) and fifth in at-bats (426) entering Wednesday’s action.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Scott Miller’s Starting 9: Robinson Cano Rekindles Spark of MVP-Type Megastar

Floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee, not a bad way to go through life….


1. Mariners Paddle Along with Healthy Cano

Robinson Cano, or, as Derek Jeter always teased him, Robinson Canoe, always did have two things: a great smile and a beautiful swing.

Except, uh, last year, when both disappeared. And Canoe, er, Cano, was left up a creek without a paddle.

And so, too, were the Seattle Mariners.

“He makes a difference,” says Seattle slugger Nelson Cruz, who knows.

Though the Mariners were swept in Texas over the weekend to drop three games back in the AL West and are going through a tough time right now with ace Felix Hernandez on the disabled list, Seattle nevertheless looks like it has staying power in the division this year.

And that’s because Cano again is able to turn on inside fastballs, which helps the Mariners to turn on their division rivals. Before going 0-for-4 Monday, he had reached base in 34 consecutive games. He also ranked second in the majors (behind Boston’s David Ortiz) with 48 RBI.

“Man, it feels good,” Cano says. “It feels really, really good.”

This time last summer, Cano had just been diagnosed with strained abdominal muscles. He kept it quiet, even though the injury stripped him of much of his power because he was all upper body in the batter’s box. He had to cheat on pitches: start his swing early when he guessed fastball, because no way was his bat quick enough to get around on even mediocre fastballs.

As it turned out, he had a double hernia. He headed straight for surgery when the season ended.

He doesn’t remember it happening on one play in particular.

He just woke up one morning and there was pain.

“It’s a big difference now,” says Cano, who is back to elite form with 16 homers, 48 RBI and a slash line of .284/.343/.560. “Last year, I had to figure out how to play with it.

“Now, I can look at each pitch” and, if it is a fat one, he can let it rip with the bat.

So much for the whispers that his skills had deteriorated, that he no longer was close to the same player he was with the Yankees.

“People always talk,” Cano says. “People are always going to talk. You have to not pay attention. I’m human, I’m not going to be perfect all the time.

“Coming from New York, I definitely heard all kinds of stuff there, and it was like, whatever. I see it happen with a lot of players. I see A-Rod getting booed.”

Mariners hitting coach, and legendary designated hitter Edgar Martinez, says Cano’s health is the biggest difference this summer.

“It’s tough to play like that,” Martinez says. “He played through it for a long time last year. That can be pretty hard.

“This game demands that you move and run.”

Martinez continues to work extensively with Cano early in the afternoons, before batting practice, particularly with a batting tee. Cano’s go-to drill is swinging through the ball on the tee with one hand, primarily his bottom (right) hand, and drilling the baseball to the middle of the field.

That Cano now can push off of his back leg, using it to help power his swing, is no small thing, either. Last year, the abdominal strain/double hernia did not allow him to use his legs—especially his back leg.

As a result, he was forced to rely too much on his front hip, which kept him off balance too frequently.

The biggest difference this year?

“I’m having fun, not just because I’m healthy, but because we’re winning,” he says. “That’s why it’s a different story. The way we’re playing as a team makes it fun.”

And the biggest difference between last year and this for the Mariners?

“Oooh, I’d say everything,” Cano says. “We’ve got a lot of new players. The coaches have been real good, guys like Manny Acta (third-base coach), Casey Candaele (first-base coach), Stot (Mel Stottlemyre Jr., pitching coach) and Mike Hampton (bullpen coach).

“It started in spring training, everyone getting to know each other. We had 60 guys, and 40 new ones.”

Indeed, new general manager Jerry Dipoto kept the turnstiles spinning over the winter, taking a wrecking ball to Seattle’s roster. Most important, he rebuilt a bullpen that now ranks third among American League relief corps with a 2.89 ERA. Last year, the Mariners ranked 12th among AL bullpens with a 4.15 ERA.

Put all of that together with Cano, and the seas are wide open for the Mariners.


2. Padres Owner Channels His Inner Ray Kroc

With only Minnesota, Cincinnati and Atlanta producing worse records than his San Diego Padres in the season’s first two months, owner Ron Fowler had seen enough last week.

So in an appearance on the team’s flagship radio station, Mighty 1090, Fowler called his team “miserable failures,” noted that the club’s performance in 2016 has been “embarrassing” and even name-checked the late, former owner of the Padres, Ray Kroc.

“The performance by our team [in last Tuesday’s 16-4 loss at Seattle], I can understand how Kroc would have grabbed the microphone,” Fowler said. “It’s that frustrating.”

Kroc famously stormed into the press box in the middle of the eighth inning on Opening Day 1974, seized the public-address microphone and announced to a stunned crowd in old San Diego Stadium, “Ladies and gentleman, I suffer with you.”

He continued, eventually sputtering: “I have never seen such stupid ballplaying in my life.”

As he spoke, a streaker ran onto the field (hey, it was 1974).

The day after Fowler’s diatribe, the Padres blew a 12-2 lead over Seattle and lost, 16-13, the largest blown-lead loss in club history.

Two days later, the Padres shipped disappointing starter James Shields to the Chicago White Sox, with the Sox agreeing to pay $27 million. San Diego is responsible for roughly $31 million (Shields is owed roughly $58 million through 2018, unless he uses his opt-out clause after this season).

The Padres also, according to Bleacher Report sources, have indicated to rival teams that they would like to move Matt Kemp (owed roughly $100 million through 2019), Melvin Upton Jr. (owed roughly $27 million through 2017) and Derek Norris (arbitration-eligible again this winter), among others.

Recent events have left the Padres players shell-shocked. When B/R asked Kemp point-blank whether he wants to stay in San Diego or move on, he said he wants to play for a winner and does not want to go through a rebuilding process.

“It would be tough,” Kemp said of going through a rebuilding process. “I want to win. I’m used to winning.”

Of course, despite his 14 home runs, there is little interest in him, B/R sources say. The Padres are hoping an American League team with a need for a DH eventually turns up. Lord knows, watching Kemp’s defense deteriorate at an alarming rate over the past two seasons, the club is going to be hard-pressed to find an NL taker for him.

The good news for San Diego baseball fans is that, after the end of the John Moores era as owner and following the brief term of Jeff Moorad, both of whom left the franchise broken and battered, the new ownership group cares passionately about putting a winner on the field.

The bad news is the shortcut it tried last year backfired, and now the Friars appear to have miles to go (and many prayers to say) before fielding a winner.

Lourdes, anyone?


3. Chicago’s South-Side Addition

It’s easy to see why the White Sox moved so quickly to acquire James Shields.

Robin Ventura’s team started 23-10 this season, but then lost 18 of its next 24 games through the weekend, when the Sox acquired Shields.

To that point, the Sox had spent 47 days in first place. But now, into this week, they were tied for third, 3.5 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central.

Chris Sale is a Cy Young candidate, Jose Quintana is solid and Carlos Rodon has star potential, but Mat Latos quickly went south (that wasn’t hard to predict) and Chicago needed a boost.

How much Shields has left is the question: He has thrown 200 or more innings for nine consecutive seasons, and his ERA before getting blasted in Seattle last week was 3.06. He actually was not among San Diego’s chief problems.

One thing to watch: Shields led the NL in home runs allowed last season. And Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field is a launching pad in the summer.


4. A Byrd in Hand Is the Finger to Some

So Marlon Byrd gets popped for performance-enhancing drugs for a second time, receiving a 162-game suspension and his own personal flaming place in steroids infamy.

Good riddance to another cheater. A couple of thoughts…

No, the fact that Byrd, Dee Gordon and a couple of others have been caught this spring does not indicate a raging steroid problem in baseball. Quite the opposite: MLB‘s drug-testing program is widely recognized as the toughest testing program among any of the major four North American professional sports. The fact that guys are getting caught shows that the system is working as intended.

Now, however, does that mean that the game is 100 percent clean? Absolutely not. Not with the millions of dollars these guys are making. Because of the money, there is so much incentive to cheat, and you will always have guys looking to take shortcuts.

The best news now is how players such as Justin Verlander, Jeremy Guthrie and others continue to blast peers who cheat. You cannot overstate the importance of the cooperation of the players union as it relates to how stringent testing is. The old, obstructionist days of a union led by Donald Fehr and Gene Orza are long gone. The late (and great) Michael Weiner led the union into the light, and now union boss Tony Clark is continuing that cause (along with many enlightened players).

Kudos to Guthrie for his reaction on Twitter in the aftermath of Byrd getting busted (the first one emotional, the second thoughtful, both necessary):


5. A Gentle Reminder

As talk about the new slide rule at second base continues this season, remember, this is how they used to play (the baserunner is Kansas City’s Hal McRae, the infielder is the Yankees’ Willie Randolph and the situation is the 1977 American League Championship Series):


6. Weekly Power Rankings

1. Muhammad Ali: The Greatest, and if you think that means just in the boxing ring, you’re wrong. He was far ahead of his time as a humanitarian and Civil Rights leader, too. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth,” he once said. We’ll miss you, Champ.

2. Corey Seager: Five homers against Atlanta over the weekend, and the Braves say, “Uncle.” Which, in Atlanta, translates to: “How the heck do we get good young players like that?!?!”

3. MLB Draft: Commences Thursday, and don’t the Philadelphia Phillies wish there was a clear Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg.

4. Cleveland Indians: In sweeping Kansas City to seize first place in the AL Central, the Indians are doing their part to try to divert attention in town from the poor Cavaliers, who so far are just so much pulled pork to the Golden State Warriors.

5. Carl Crawford: Onetime All-Star designated for assignment by the Dodgers. Hey, they don’t have time to nursemaid him along; they’re too busy spending all their time doing that with Yasiel Puig.

7. Power at Short:


8. The Red Sox Mean Business

Inconsistent starter Joe Kelly was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Inconsistent starter Clay Buchholz was dispatched to the bullpen.

The Red Sox are sending out an SOS in every direction imaginable where their rotation is concerned. It’s all hands on deck.

The way David Ortiz, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts and others are hitting and reaching base, the Sox have the offense to win.

But outside of David Price and Steven Wright, the rotation remains a work in progress. Now in a friendly part of their schedule with a handful of off days, the Sox are going with a four-man rotation as manager John Farrell and pitching coach Carl Willis work overtime to find a solution.

As Nick Cafardo, national columnist at the Boston Globepoints out, the Sox tied the Cubs at 18-10 for the second-best record in the majors in the month of May (San Francisco was first at 21-8).

The Cubs hit .259 with 30 homers and 139 runs scored. The Red Sox hit .305 with 46 homers and 182 runs scored.

The Cubs’ team ERA in the month was 2.81. The Red Sox: 4.11.

Gives you some idea of what Boston could do with even marginally better starting pitching.


9. Clayton Kershaw Paints His Masterpiece

Yeah, just tell these guys about it, too:


9a. Rock ‘n’ Roll Lyric of the Week

Farewell, Muhammad Ali. You rocked our world….

“I was shadowboxing earlier in the day

“I figured I was ready for Cassius Clay”

— Bob Dylan, “I Shall Be Free No. 10”


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Cano Reaches 1,000 Career RBI in 6-RBI Performance

Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano reached the 1,000-RBI milestone with a bang, driving in six runs during Tuesday’s 11-1 win over the Houston Astros, per MLB Stat of the Day.

He entered the contest with 998 career RBI and needed just two more to become the 281st player (and 12th active player) with 1,000-plus.

After making outs in his first two at-bats, Cano stepped up to the plate against Astros ace Dallas Keuchel with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning, and he promptly delivered a two-run single that gave him exactly 1,000 RBI, in addition to giving his team a 5-0 lead.

Not yet done, Seattle’s star second baseman put the game away in the seventh inning with a grand slam to right-center field off of Astros relief pitcher Michael Feliz.

Elsewhere, Texas Rangers designated hitter Prince Fielder recorded his 999th career RBI in a 10-1 win over the New York Yankees, and he positioned himself to join Cano (and 280 others) in the 1,000-RBI club within the next few days.

Detroit Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez reached the same milestone just last week, and New York Mets third baseman David Wright (961 career RBI) should get there by the end of the season—if he manages to stay reasonably healthy.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Examining the Loud Return of Robinson Cano’s Big Home Run Power

You know what they say about $240 million contracts. It’s amazing how quickly they can go from looking like money well spent to money wasted and back to money well spent again.

That may not be going on in Albert Pujols’ neck of the woods, but it is in Robinson Cano‘s. This time last year, the power-hitting second baseman the Seattle Mariners paid the big bucks for seemed to no longer have power. But now, he can’t stop hitting home runs.

After slugging six homers in the entire first half of 2015, Cano is balancing out an ugly .250 on-base percentage with five dingers in his first nine games in 2016. The most recent came on Wednesday at Safeco Field against the Texas Rangers. The first four were against the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, and looked a bit like this:

Cano’s dinger display isn’t coming out of nowhere. The 33-year-old finished 2015 with 15 long balls in the second half. And in spring training this year, he launched seven home runs. All told, he’s now slugged 27 home runs in the last 91 games he’s played in.

Call it a hunch, but Cano is probably not staying on a 240-homer pace. Even topping 35 home runs could be difficult, as it’s something he’s never done before.

Then again, whether Cano can keep socking dingers at such a ridiculous rate isn’t the most interesting question worth asking. Rather, that would be simply: “How?”

For starters, it’s not hard to determine what originally killed the former New York Yankee’s power. The easy culprit is Safeco Field, which is definitely not the same as Yankee Stadium for left-handed sluggers. But the real culprit was Cano himself, who stopped operating like a power hitter. 

After cranking out 27 home runs in his final season with the Yankees in 2013, he preceded his slow start in 2015 by knocking just 14 home runs in his first year in Seattle in 2014. And overall in his first year and a half in Seattle, he stopped hitting as many balls in the air, didn’t use his pull side and struggled to make hard contact like he did as he was averaging 28 homers a year in his heyday (2009-2013):

None of this helped Cano’s power, but the ground balls hurt the most. Barring well-placed gopher holes, balls that skip across the infield don’t usually end up beyond the fence.

And Cano’s ground balls weren’t a fluke. When Dan Farnsworth of FanGraphs dove into the video, he found that Cano’s swing path had become flatter than it was in New York. When that happens, fly balls and line drives easily become grounders.

Cano’s age might explain his other troubles. Age tends to slow down bats, and Cano’s bat often did look slow last season.

But there was also more afflicting Cano than just age. He revealed to Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today last summer that he had been battling a nagging stomach problem ever since August of 2014. He also broke his right pinkie toe during a tour in Japan the following winter. And in March, he was dealt an emotional blow when his grandfather passed away.

In short: By the time the 2015 All-Star break rolled around, the poor guy was a wreck.

But then, of course, came Cano’s turnaround. Beyond hitting 15 homers in the second half, he also slashed .331/.387/.540. In terms of adjusted offense, he was one of the 15 best hitters in the league.

How Cano did this is suspect at first glance. Relative to his first season and a half in Seattle, his batted ball profile really didn’t change:

On paper, Cano’s second half really shouldn’t have featured so much extra power. The ground balls were still there, and he wasn’t pulling the ball or hitting the ball hard at a higher rate.

What Cano was doing, however, was not wasting the balls he did get in the air.

That’s obvious to the extent that his home run per fly ball rate jumped from 8.1 in the first half to 25.9 in the second half. And though it didn’t show in his overall hard-hit rate, Baseball Savant can vouch that Cano did hit fly balls and line drives with more exit velocity than he did in the first half:

  • First Half: 94.2 MPH
  • Second Half: 96.3 MPH

The elephant in this particular room is that the Mariners hired team legend Edgar Martinez to be their new hitting coach last June. Now-former manager Lloyd McClendon told Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Seattle that Martinez “absolutely” had an impact on the club’s offensive turnaround. And though Cano’s ground ball rate suggests that Martinez didn’t fix his swing path, MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds may be right in thinking that Martinez was able to improve Cano’s balance and timing:

This brings us, finally, to what Cano is doing this year.

He’s operating like a hitter who’s fully confident in his power revival. He went into Thursday with a much-improved 0.80 ground ball to fly ball ratio, while also pulling the ball at a 56.7 percent clip. Though this does help explain his inconsistency, it’s certainly a solid foundation for all his power.

The working theory for why Cano is having an easier time hitting the ball in the air is that his swing plane is no longer flat. But for now, it’s hard to say for certain whether that’s true. None of his highlights (to my knowledge) offers a handy side view, and his swing path looks different depending on the pitch anyway.

But as for why Cano is pulling the ball like he is, ROOT Sports color man Mike Blowers posited after Cano’s third home run: “Now that he’s healthy he’s able to pull the ball with authority. We’ve seen that a lot.”

It could indeed be that simple. Cano is well removed from his initial stomach trouble, and he also had surgery in October to repair a sports hernia. When he reported to spring training, he claimed to be feeling “98 percent” healthy.

Three scouts that Joel Sherman of the New York Post spoke to noticed as much.

“Looks better physically than I have seen in years,” said one.

“Not just on offense, he is moving well to his left on defense again,” said another.

And to the naked eye, Cano does look pretty good. Where his swing often seemed slow and sluggish last year, this year it looks quick and explosive, particularly when he turned on a high and tight fastball on Wednesday, which looked like this from the rear:

There’s more to the story of Cano’s power revival. For example, Owen Watson highlighted at FanGraphs that he seems to be back to punishing mistakes in the strike zone. You know, like a good hitter should.

But from a wider perspective, the big takeaway is that the return of Cano’s power isn’t due to any one thing. His power initially left for several reasons, and has come back seemingly thanks to some slight adjustments, improved health and, based on appearances, more confidence. 

For how long Cano can keep this up remains a good question. At his age, his body could very well betray him again. And if his OBP continues to suffer, he may resolve to cut down on his power and simply try for better at-bats.

For now, though, Cano is putting on a heck of a show. The fact that it’s a show that seemed to be on the verge of disappearing forever only makes it better.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

Follow zachrymer on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Robinson Cano’s Hot Start Breathes Life Back into Mariners Franchise

The Seattle Mariners will pay Robinson Cano $24 million every year until 2024. That much we know.

The question is, what will Cano give Seattle in return?

For the first two years of his 10-year, $240 million deal, the answer has been an uneasy blend of solid production and disappointment. Yes, Cano made the All-Star team and finished fifth in American League MVP voting in 2014. Last season, he hit .287 with 21 home runsa perfectly respectable output. 

The Mariners, though, need more than respectable output from Cano. They need a franchise player, a guy worthy of a payroll-chewing payday.

They need the guy who posted 30 wins above replacement for the New York Yankees between 2010 and 2013 and established himself as one of the game’s elite talents.

Three games into the 2016 campaign, Cano is showing signs. And while the usual small-sample caveats apply, it’s decidedly good news for the Mariners.

After clubbing two home runs in Seattle’s 9-5 come-from-behind win over the division-rival Texas Rangers on Wednesday, Cano has four homers on the young season, a historic early power binge in the Pacific Northwest, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Last season, by contrast, Cano didn’t hit his fourth homer until June 26.

The home runs haven’t merely cleared the fence. They’ve done so in eye-opening fashion, as Fox Sports’ Dan Carson noted:

And Cano’s not just hitting homers, he is spanking balls. His first home run of the season (coincidentally during his first at-bat) jumped off the wood at 110 mph—with a launch angle of a lean 18 degrees.

Cano didn’t hit this ball as much as reprimand it for looking him in the eye.

Here, take a look for yourself:

That swing calls to mind vintage Cano, the player the Mariners thought they were getting when they cut that cartoonish check. What if they have him now? What, exactly, would that mean?

For starters, it’d put a Mariners team—one that just missed the postseason in 2014 before limping to a fourth-place 76-86 finish in 2015squarely into the October mix.

The M’s made some moves this winter under general manager Jerry Dipoto, adding ancillary pieces in the mold of outfielder Nori Aoki, left-hander Wade Miley and the overhaul of a subpar bullpen. But they failed to grab any of the market’s top-shelf, instant-impact names.

A resurgent Cano could fill that void.

There’s offensive talent around him, including third baseman Kyle Seager and designated hitter Nelson Cruz. And the rotation is anchored as ever by his royal highness Felix Hernandez.

The Rangers and Houston Astroslast year’s AL West champs and Wild Card, respectivelyremain the nominal division favorites. But there’s room for another club to sneak into the picture and challenge the Texas twosome.

If Cano, at age 33, can rediscover his 30-homer pop, that club could be Seattle.

In addition, and perhaps more importantly, a gaudy year from Cano would make that contract look less onerous. The Mariners knew they were paying down the road for production now when they inked Cano. By 2023—his age-40 season—he assuredly won’t be a $24 million player.

But if he can crank the clock back and become not merely a good player but a great one, suddenly the Mariners go from fringe contenders to legit threats.

It’s early. Crazy things can happen in the span of a few games, and they’re often not predictive.

But we’re not talking about some no-name scrub playing out of his mind. We’re talking about a preternaturally gifted man who, not so long ago, was on the shortlist of the best players on the planet.

Cano underwent hernia surgery in October and said it improved his ability to turn his hips, per MLB.com’s Greg Johns. That translated to seven Cactus League homers, and the power surge has carried over.

Seager spoke about Cano’s improvement, per Johns:

He told me that [he felt better] when he got here, so he was right. He’s a special player. Everybody knows that. When you’re playing through injury and nobody knows about it, that’s tough. He’s good. But you could tell in the spring, you can tell in BP, you can tell just the way he’s walking around and moving.

Will it lead to the Mariners, who took two of three from the Rangers in Arlington, moving up in the standings? Time, as ever, will tell.

But if you’re searching for game-changing storylines in the AL West and the Junior Circuit in general, keep your eye on this one. And if you’re a Mariners fan assessing the state of the franchise, let yourself soak in a little renewed optimism.

Cano will take $240 million from Seattle’s coffers. That we know. Suddenly, there’s hope that those bucks may translate into some serious bang.


All statistics current as of April 6 and courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Robinson Cano Comments on Criticism from Andy Van Slyke

Robinson Cano is coming off a mid-career skid in 2015 that elicited spiteful comments from former Seattle Mariners first base coach Andy Van Slyke in November.

Cano hit below .300 for the first time in six seasons while playing through a sports hernia that required offseason surgery as the Mariners finished 76-86—well below their preseason expectations as World Series hopefuls.

Cano’s decline in production prompted Van Slyke to slam the star second baseman in a damning November interview with CBS Sports 920AM in St. Louis. Among the many insults he unloaded, Van Slyke called Cano “the most awful player I’ve ever seen.”

On Thursday, though, Cano said the comments hardly fazed him as he recovered from surgery at home in the Dominican Republic in the offseason, per Jose M. Romero of the Associated Press:

Honestly it didn’t hurt me. Coming from a guy like him, it doesn’t bother me at all because I know how I play. If you hear the comments, first he threw me under the bus and then he was like (saying) what’s so great about myself. So you didn’t know what he was trying to say. But Andy, I don’t know, it doesn’t even matter to me.

Seattle jettisoned Van Slyke in the offseason housecleaning that included the firing of manager Lloyd McClendon and general manager Jack Zduriencik.

Yet contrary to Van Slyke’s comments, Cano—despite fighting abdominal pain—improved at the plate after Edgar Martinez supplanted hitting coach Howard Johnson in late June:

Van Slyke likely damaged his prospects of landing another gig by spilling gossip on Cano, the Mariners and the dysfunction in Seattle.

In the same interview, Van Slyke also accused Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw of requesting that team president Andrew Friedman trade embattled outfielder Yasiel Puig. Friedman denied those reports.

Cano said he’s 98 percent back to full strength, per Romero, as he enters the third season of a 10-year, $240 million megadeal that will account for nearly one-fifth of the Mariners’ payroll this year, per Spotrac

Here is a more extensive look at Cano’s press conference Thursday, courtesy of the News Tribune.

The Mariners replaced Zduriencik and McClendon with Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais, respectively, as they look to reverse their misfortune as the only American League team that hasn’t reached the World Series. 

Cano believes the new management has the capability of leading such a charge.

“For a team to win you don’t need big names, you just need the right pieces. I think that’s what Jerry has done,” Cano said, per Romero. “I don’t focus on the manager, because they know how to do their job. For me, it’s more about getting to know teammates. I think Servais is going to do a great job.”

Seattle is the lone team in the AL West that hasn’t reached the playoffs over the last two seasons. The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros are on the rise with young talent and postseason experience from a year ago. Even fighting for a wild-card spot in a league with such parity will be a huge challenge for Seattle.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Trade Rumors: Analyzing Buzz on Robinson Cano, Jonathan Papelbon and More

The end of November is an interesting time in Major League Baseball, as it’s a time when rumors begin to simmer heading into the winter meetings in two weeks. 

There will also be an overabundance of rumors that are either false or useless. Hearing that teams are “willing to listen” on a random player says nothing because a general manager will take a phone call about any player, even if there’s no intention of moving that player. 

Sometimes, though, rumors come out that have merit or are at least worth discussing because it could be a sign of discontent with the player or team, or a franchise wants to move in a different direction and holds up a “for sale” sign. 

Here are the rumblings around MLB that warrant discussion, for one reason or another. 


Robinson Cano is Sleepless in Seattle

Scrolling through Twitter on Monday, the biggest baseball-related topic was John Harper of the New York Daily News speaking to a close friend of Robinson Cano’s, who said Seattle’s second baseman wants to get back to the Bronx. 

“But even if Cano has had the best intentions as a Mariner,” Harper wrote, “one long-time friend who spoke to him recently says the second baseman is not happy in Seattle, especially with a new regime in charge there now, and that he’d love to somehow find his way back to New York.”

One scenario that was bantered about on the interwebs was a trade of two bad contracts involving Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports shot it down:

Cano, to his credit, took to Twitter with a workout video of him getting ready for 2016 and a Mariners hashtag at the end:

There’s also the question of why Seattle would look to deal Cano at this date, other than financial relief. He’s not a superstar anymore, but his 2015 season took a dramatic turn after the All-Star break. 

It was also revealed after the season, which Harper noted, that Cano was battling stomach and intestinal injuries that required surgery. He is 33 years old and in the back half of his career, but the six-time All-Star is still Seattle’s best pure hitter. (Nelson Cruz is a better power hitter, but he’s not hitting over .300 again.)

Seattle’s quest to become a playoff team hinges on many things, which general manager Jerry DiPoto is trying to address with acquisitions like Leonys Martin to handle center field, but a healthy Cano in 2016 will go a long way. 


Nationals Want Bullpen Upgrade

In news that will surprise no one, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Washington Nationals want to upgrade their bullpen and rid themselves of Jonathan Papelbon:

Getting rid of Papelbon has felt like a foregone conclusion for the Nationals as soon as he got involved in a dugout scuffle with recently crowned National League MVP Bryce Harper. The 35-year-old had a solid 2015 season with a 2.13 ERA, 24 saves and 56 strikeouts in 63.1 innings. 

Complicating any potential trade for the Nationals is the fact that Papelbon’s value has certainly diminished because of his age and struggles after being acquired from Philadelphia (3.04 ERA, 16 strikeouts in 23.2 innings). 

Papelbon is also owed $11 million in 2016, currently tied for the second-highest salary among all MLB closers, so Washington will have to eat a lot of money to deal the right-hander. 

Aroldis Chapman is the most interesting name Stark mentioned as a potential ninth-inning replacement for Papelbon. Cincinnati’s flame-throwing lefty would certainly be an upgrade over virtually any other option, though the Reds are going to milk his market for all it’s worth. 

Heyman reported on Nov. 23 that the Los Angeles Dodgers are one of “several other teams” that have checked in on Chapman. The good news is it does seem like Cincinnati’s front office is finally serious about trading the 27-year-old. 

The bad news is a Chapman deal comes as he enters his final year of arbitration. Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com estimates Chapman will make $12.9 million in 2016 as a result. By comparison, Boston’s Craig Kimbrel is currently MLB’s highest-paid closer with an average salary of $11.25 million.

The Nationals do have money opening up with Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Ian Desmond, Dan Uggla and Denard Span coming off the books. Chapman’s salary, while exorbitant for his ultimate role, would solve a need in Washington. 

The first order of business will be dealing Papelbon, who did not ingratiate himself very well after moving to the Nationals. 


Baltimore’s Offseason Agenda

The Baltimore Orioles got an answer to one of their free-agent questions when catcher Matt Wieters accepted a one-year qualifying offer, but they still have a lot of work to do this offseason. 

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick broke down exactly what positions the Orioles need to fill or upgrade this winter:

Another key free agent the Orioles are looking to retain is Chris Davis, with ESPN’s Buster Olney reporting Baltimore owner Peter Angelos is “personally involved” in the discussions. 

The problem for Baltimore on the Davis front is he’s represented by Scott Boras, who is the master at playing the system to get his clients as much money as possible. Considering Davis had a bounce-back 2015 in which he led MLB in homers for the second time in three years, he is going to make a lot of money. 

St. Louis has already been linked to Davis by Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, who noted the Cardinals “are poised to spend heavily in free agency this winter, thanks to revenues from their new local television contract…”

Putting Davis to the side for a moment, Crasnick did note on ESPN.com that the Orioles have “examined the market for Jay Bruce and other impact hitters.” 

Going back to the beginning of the article, “examined the market” is one of those vague terms that says nothing. Crasnick put some water on the fire by adding that teams often engage the Orioles in trades by asking for pitcher Kevin Gausman or second baseman Jonathan Schoop

“Duquette is hesitant to move either player because he would just be weakening one position to strengthen another,” Crasnick wrote.

Bruce is another player who seems like a good candidate to move as part of Cincinnati’s full-blown rebuild. His value has dropped precipitously since 2014 after consecutive seasons with sub-.300 on-base percentages, though the power did return in 2015 with 26 homers. 

Given that Bruce will be just 29 in April, there’s some reason to believe he can get back to his 2013 line of .262/.329/.478 with 74 extra-base hits. It’s a long shot because he’s two years removed from that, but not out of the question because of his youth. 

The Orioles have to decide how much their hole in right field is worth, both in financial terms and trade-asset-wise. This isn’t a franchise that can open its wallet to anyone, so general manager Dan Duquette‘s ability to create flexibility will be essential if Baltimore hopes to remain competitive in the AL East.


Stats per Baseball-Reference.com; Contract info per Spotrac.com.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Robinson Cano Is Still Good, but His $240M Megadeal Is Becoming an Albatross

From the sound of things, you’d think Robinson Cano is the worst baseball player, the biggest whiner and the most despicable human being ever.

In reality, he’s not that bad of a guy. Or that bad of a player, really.

But if ever there was a time to acknowledge the honeymoon phase of his 10-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners is over, it sure seems like now.

At present, there’s plenty of bad noise about Cano out there. Most of it stems from recently fired Mariners coach Andy Van Slyke, who went on a St. Louis radio show last Thursday and portrayed Cano as a blight on the Mariners, Major League Baseball and planet earth.

Mercifully, many have come to Cano’s defense. Among those is now-former Mariners third base coach Rich Donnelly, who spoke to John Harper of the New York Daily News. Donnelly said he was “shocked” to hear of Van Slyke’s comments and proceeded to do Cano several solids.

Nobody cares about that part, though.

The part of Harper’s article that made headlines is his report of a conversation with a longtime friend of Cano’s who claimed the former New York Yankee is “not happy in Seattle, especially with a new regime in charge there now, and that he’d love to somehow find his way back to New York.”

So, yeah. Hence the appearance of Cano being the worst baseball player ever, the biggest whiner ever and the most despicable human being ever.

One doesn’t want to pile on. One would much rather offer a spirited defense of Cano. One would love to argue his redemption is just around the corner.

But sadly, one can’t really do that. Knowing where Cano’s career is at now, silencing the critics and doubters is going to be an uphill battle now and forever.

We can give Cano this much credit: He’s coming off a 2015 season that wasn’t nearly as bad as all the noise would lead you to believe.

Cano played in 156 games and hit .287 with a .779 OPS and 21 home runs. Sure, it was a down year relative to his previous standards—he entered 2015 as a .310 career hitter with an .857 career OPS—but Cano still qualified as an easily above-average hitter.

And he had a pretty good excuse for having a down year.

As Cano told Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today in July, he entered 2015 still dealing with the effects of a stomach problem he had first started experiencing in August 2014. He claimed it robbed him of his energy, something Donnelly was quick to back up.

“He was dealing with some physical issues, and a lot of guys would have cashed it in,” Donnelly told Harper. “He worked his tail off to get back to where he wanted to be.”

As bad as those issues were, the worst appears to be behind Cano. He got his bearings at the plate in June and held on to them for the final four months of the season.

As a result, the three months in which he was most heavily afflicted by his stomach issues now look like an isolated slump rather than the start of a decline:

For three months there, Cano was not himself. But on either side of that slump, the Mariners pretty much got exactly the hitter they paid $240 million for two winters ago. His hitting hasn’t declined as sharply as his subpar 2015 numbers would indicate.

But lest anyone get too excited, of this there can be no doubt: Cano’s bat hasn’t disappeared, but it is declining.

Though Cano’s numbers on either side of his recent slump look good, it stands out that his slugging doesn’t quite measure up to what he was doing as a Yankee. That’s not all Safeco Field, either.

No, sir. There are some things Cano’s slump doesn’t get wrong about him, including that he’s become more prone to ground balls and soft contact:

By far the most encouraging aspect of Cano’s recent turnaround was how he hit for power. But because he was continuing to hit ground balls and make soft contact more frequently than his vintage self, it’s best to be skeptical about whether he can pick up where he left off.

Elsewhere, one thing that actually got worse was Cano’s strikeout habit.

In the final four months of 2015, Cano struck out in 15.9 percent of his plate appearances. That’s not so bad relative to the league’s 20.4 K percentage, but it was worse than the 13.2 K percentage he had during his slump and the 11.8 K percentage he had in his career before then.

In a related story, Cano’s capacity to hit anything thrown his way is slipping. He’s not getting more aggressive, but his ability to make contact outside of the strike zone just took a turn for the worse and, overall, his ability to make contact is declining:

This, along with Cano’s increased tendency for ground balls and soft contact can’t be overlooked.

According to the research Bill Petti posted on FanGraphs, the ability to make contact outside of the zone and contact in general are two skills that start declining once a player gets into his late 20s. Cano managed to buck that trend for a couple of years, but apparently not any longer.

At any rate, here’s the CliffsNotes version: Though Cano isn’t finished as a productive hitter just yet, he neither makes contact nor hits the ball as well as he used to. That’s his age at work, and he’s no more likely to reverse the effects than he is to reverse his age.

Of course, this wouldn’t be as big of a deal if Cano could recoup his waning hitting value on the basepaths or on defense. But…yeah, that’s not happening.

Cano was actually a pretty good baserunner in 2014, stealing 10 bases and posting 1.3 baserunning runs above average. But he was a way-below-average runner in the two years prior to 2014, and that was the case again in 2015. At his age of 33, it’s 2014 that’s clearly the outlier.

As for Cano’s defense, he’s not the worst defensive second baseman ever. But the advanced metrics agree he hasn’t been good in the last two seasons, and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports noted even people within the Mariners were wondering what Cano would look like at first base by the end of 2015.

In his heyday, Cano was an elite offensive and defensive second baseman who could hold his own on the basepaths. He’s now a liability in the latter two departments and moving away from his prime in the former department. As every player must do eventually, we’re looking at Cano entering his twilight.

For the Mariners, this is not a happy thought. They owe Cano $24 million per year for the next eight seasons. FanGraphs’ WAR-based value system says he wasn’t even worth $20 million in 2015. Knowing about the holes in his game, that may be a permanent reality.

If they aren’t already, the Mariners are soon going to find themselves wishing they could move Cano’s contract. But in all likelihood, they’re going to be forced into working around it instead. Like the Yankees have been with Alex Rodriguez and the Los Angeles Angels now are with Albert Pujols, the Mariners are going to be stuck with Cano.

For now, the Mariners can downplay all the bad noise. All the headlines say they have a talentless malcontent on their hands, but they exaggerate.

They just shouldn’t expect this to be the end of the bad noise. It tends to go where the albatrosses go, and that’s what Cano is becoming.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.

Follow zachrymer on Twitter 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Robinson Cano: Latest News, Rumors and Speculation Surrounding Mariners 2B

Just two years into his massive 10-year, $240 million deal, second baseman Robinson Cano may already be devising an exit plan from the Seattle Mariners.

Continue for updates.

Cano’s Agent Denies Rumors

Monday, Nov. 23

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto spoke with Cano’s agent, and he assured Dipoto that Cano did not leak any rumors and is “very upbeat in all conversations,” per Greg Johns of MLB.com.

When asked if Cano was unhappy, Dipoto replied“Quite the opposite.”

Cano Posts Workout Video Amid Rumors

Monday, Nov. 23

With speculation surrounding his future in Seattle, Cano took to Twitter to post a video of his offseason workout, tagging the Mariners in the process, with the team eventually retweeting the post, per Brett Smiley of Fox Sports:

“It feels kind of like a social media olive branch and perhaps a mutual realization that Cano’s monstrous contract—in light of his age and subpar defense—means they’re probably stuck together for a while,” Smiley said.

Mariners, Yankees Reportedly Not Discussing Deal

Monday, Nov. 23

Jim Bowden of ESPN, citing a source “directly involved in talks” between the Mariners and New York Yankees, reported there is “no truth” to any proposed deal involving Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury.

While the Yankees make sense from a roster perspective, the fact remains that if New York wanted Cano badly enough, then it never would’ve let him leave in the first place.

Cano Reportedly Prefers Return to New York 

Monday, Nov. 23

According to John Harper of the New York Daily News, Cano is becoming dissatisfied with his current situation, and the Mariners’ new hires, manager Scott Servais and general manager Jerry Dipoto, haven’t lessened his desire to leave: “But even if Cano has had the best intentions as a Mariner, one long-time friend who spoke to him recently says the second baseman is not happy in Seattle, especially with a new regime in charge there now, and that he’d love to somehow find his way back to New York.”

Cano Has Not Lived Up to Lofty Price Tag in Seattle

Signing Cano was supposed to usher in a new era in Seattle following a string of losing seasons, but the Mariners finished third in the American League West in 2014 and then fourth in 2015.

Not only has the team failed to meet expectations, but the All-Star second baseman’s numbers have dipped a bit since his move to the spacious Safeco Field. He remains one of the best at his position but not quite the offensive force he was with the Yankees.

Here’s a look at how Cano performed between 2010—the first of his five straight All-Star seasons—and 2015:

Considering Cano will earn $24 million annually through 2023, few teams can feasibly trade for him or would even want to in the first place.

The Mariners could take on a large portion of Cano’s salary for a trade to be palatable for potential suitors. With so much money still left on the deal, though, the cost of making that happen will almost certainly be prohibitive for Seattle—at least for another few years.

Given Cano’s hefty contract, he’ll have to hope things can turn around for the Mariners going forward because he won’t be leaving Seattle for the foreseeable future.


Note: Stats are courtesy of FanGraphs.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Robinson Cano Injury: Updates on Mariners Star’s Hernia and Recovery

A disappointing season for the Seattle Mariners is ending with injury woes for star second baseman Robinson Cano, who will have offseason surgery for a sports hernia.

Continue for updates.

Cano Surgery Set for Oct. 13

Friday, Oct. 2

According to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, Cano has played through a sports hernia since July and will have surgery Oct. 13 to correct the problem. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reported Cano will need six weeks of recovery time.

Per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, the Mariners knew this was a possibility and ran tests to make sure they had a definitive answer before the offseason. MLB.com’s Greg Johns added the former All-Star will play for the Mariners in their final series this weekend against the Oakland Athletics.

Cano got off to a dreadful start this year but is finishing strong, and his second-half performance looks even better when considering what he has been dealing with.

The 32-year-old is hitting .332/.388/.540 with 14 home runs since the All-Star break. He may not be the MVP-caliber hitter he was during his prime years moving forward, but his turnaround this season does provide hope that there’s plenty of gas left in the tank.

After signing a whopping 10-year, $240 million contract with the Mariners in December 2013, Cano was expected to post superstar numbers. To this point, that hasn’t been the case.

A healthy Cano, to go along with a solid pitching nucleus led by Felix Hernandez, gives the Mariners a nice foundation to build around. The front office has to find the right pieces to go around them to make a playoff push in 2016.


Follow TRappaRT on Twitter

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress