What the heck is up with Robinson Cano?

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Robinson CanoOne of the great perks for players who leave a team like the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox is getting away from the constant media attention. And in the case of Robinson Cano, this is probably why you haven’t heard about the terrible season he’s having.

We’re past the quarter mark on the season, and around now we can start to believe the production that players and teams are putting out there. Bryce Harper is pacing the league in offensive production and looks to be dialed in for an MVP run the rest of the year. The Kansas City Royals are off to an excellent start and might actually make it back to the playoffs despite refusing to take walks and being managed by Ned Yost.

And then there’s the Seattle Mariners’ prize second baseman Robinson Cano. He left behind the Yankees and their facial hair restrictions to grow a beard and sign with Seattle for $240 million. He also moved from a very hitter-friendly ballpark in New York to the Mariners’ pitcher-friendly Safeco Field, which will suck the life out a player so fast that … I’m surprised I never dated it! *rimshot*

Seattle is a lovely place and a very mellow baseball town. And maybe that environment suited Cano better than the fast-paced New York City, but we all know he had 240 million reasons to sign there. Man, I hate this expression. It’s so cliche and not really accurate. I mean, it’s not like he’s going to get 240 million $1 bills. What about $20 bills? That makes 12 million reasons. Or, yikes, what about dimes? That’s 2.4 billion reasons! The truth is he’s probably paid bi-monthly over a seven or eight month period. On a 10-year contract, that’s about 180 checks, so really he has 180 reasons. Oh man, what am I even talking about right now?

Look, it’s really late at night that I’m writing this and my wife’s got me on a cleanse that’s been wreaking havoc with my digestive system, and it’s been really hard to focus. But I guess it’s worth it because if we don’t have our health, we don’t have anything. Even if that means I have to struggle through some intestinal gymnastics for a couple weeks.

Speaking of which, Robinson Cano has been playing like crap this year. He’s the 18th-ranked second baseman this year and there’s only 23 that qualify for the list. If you factor in Cano’s defense, which is usually quite good but has also been terrible this year, he’s the worst second baseman in the American League. And of course he is the highest paid.

What’s you favorite team? Congratulations! You have a better second baseman than Robinson Cano.* (* Does not apply to fans of the Diamondbacks, Phillies and Mariners, of course.)

Cano isn’t the only former All-Star out there stinking up the joint. Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Kemp and even the great Clayton Kershaw have been disappointing their teams and fans at great expense. This is baseball and sometimes players slump. It happens.

The Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton has a lot of pretty home runs this year, but he’s batting .220 and striking out more than before. It’s probably just one of those aforementioned slumps. He has been pulling the ball more to left field and hitting more flyballs. So, it’s fair to guess he’s probably just trying to “earn” the money on his big, new contract by hitting more home runs. Settle down, Giancarlo. We don’t need you to win every game by yourself in every at bat. Over time, he’ll sort it out – though that team’s management situation most likely isn’t helping.

It’s unclear why Cano’s numbers are so bad this year. A lot of his underlying batting analytics are right in line with his career numbers, but he has been striking out more and walking about half as much. If you’re not into these baseball numbers, I’ll translate: that stinks.

Last season, Cano had a very good year – though not quite as good as his final few years with the Yankees – and the Mariners finished just one game out of the last playoff spot, so this past offseason the Mariners added slugger Nelson Cruz to give the team a dynamic duo in the middle of their lineup that would push them over the edge.

There have been some pretty great duos in history that have delighted us in ways that we could never previously have imagined. Hall & Oates. Starsky & Hutch. Peanut butter & jelly. But there’s also been some pretty bad combos: Bonnie & Clyde, Mumford & Sons, and literally anything & kale.

Nelson Cruz has been everything that the team could ever have dreamed of. He’s hitting the snot out of the ball – even at Safeco Field. However, Cano has been the Sons to Cruz’s Mumford.

Maybe Cano has just been unlucky. There’s some statistical evidence that might be the case. Maybe Cano is injured but isn’t really telling anyone because he wants to show everyone that he was worth the contract he got, and he’s toughing it out like a “good guy,” even though he’s actually harming the team like a “bad guy.”

This is all part of the drama of big-name free agent signings where teams pay players huge amounts of money essentially as a reward for their past performance with another team in the hopes that they’ll get some of that sweet, sweet productivity.

Sure, at the time of Cano’s contract signing, it seemed like it’d eventually be trouble, but everyone figured there’d be a few years before the big regret. In fact, the Mariners did what every fan hopes their team would do. They went out and got the best offensive player available.

And this is a Major League Baseball contract, so there are no take-backs. That’s $240 million guaranteed dollars. If Cano doesn’t get things going, he’ll join the likes of Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Josh Hamilton in the free-agent signing nightmare club. It’s really the worst-case scenario for any team investing in free agency.

Lots of great players have had slumps and come out of them with great production. And there’s still plenty of season left, so there’s a good chance Robinson Cano can come out of his hitting and fielding coma. But the doctors have started talking about pulling the plug.

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