As you’ve no doubt heard, Robinson Cano has been the most disappointing team’s most disappointing player.
Making $24 million this season, in just the second year of a 10-YEAR, $240 MILLION CONTRACT, Canó currently ranks 16th in fWAR and 18th in wOBA among 21 qualifying major-league second basemen. ABout the best you can say about Canó is that he’s been in the lineup almost every day and played well enough at second base to keep him above replacement-level.
In a Spanish-language conversation with USA Today Sports, Cano provided some previously undisclosed details about a stomach ailment that has sapped his energy. He also spoke of the impact of losing his paternal grandfather, Ovidio, who died of lung cancer in March, calling him, "like a second father to me.”
Cano, 32, said he was especially reluctant to talk about the stomach problem because it might be perceived as making excuses for his poor performance. Nobody likes to hear excuses from a player earning $24 million a year.
Cano was in the midst of his sixth All-Star season last year when he started experiencing stomach discomfort in August. With the Mariners in the playoff chase, he didn’t get it checked until their season was over, in October. Cano said he was told he had a common parasite, which was treated with antibiotics, but he was left with acid reflux to this day.
"It still affects me,” Cano said. "Sometimes you drink water and it makes you feel like vomiting. I can’t eat the same way I did. It’s hard to deal with, especially being the first time this has happened to me. Sometimes I eat only once a day before playing, because I feel full. And you just don’t have the same energy.”
Canó actually had a great August, but did slump badly in September. And in the first three months of this season, he batted 238/277/344.
On the other hand, he’s been hot this month! As I write this, he’s 13 for 33 in July, with two homers and two doubles. Meaningful? Probably not. Arbitrary endpoints, false narratives, etc.
Anyway, we’re supposed to admire for Canó for doing his best despite his illness. And yes, it’s admirable. But considering his performance, would the Mariners have been best-served by sidelining Canó for as long as it took him to get healthy enough to hit better than Yangervis Solarte and Johnny Giavotella?
I think maybe so. Maybe give Chris Taylor a real shot at regular duties for more than a week or two straight, just to see if he’ll hit. Even if you lose a little performance, maybe you get a healthy Canó back a little sooner?
Of course we’ve seen this sort of things many times, and sometimes it’s wound up costing teams quite a lot. There must also have been many times when a player struggled through some illness or injury and it materially helped his team.
And now you know why running a baseball team is really hard.