CANO’S FINAL DAYS?
Gravitas is the word New York Mets play-by-play broadcaster Gary Cohen used to describe Robinson Cano.
After watching Cano over the first three weeks of the 2022 season it is clear he is no longer the same player. You remember that player, right? The consummate .300 hitter, deliberate, frightening power with a near-perfect swing. An All-Star. A Silver Slugger. Always in the lineup.
At 39, injuries and a PED suspension that sidelined Cano for the entire 2021 season, and are beginning to take a toll on his game. Over nine games this season he is hitting .194 with an OBP of .242.
When I watch Cano — the 2022 edition — I have flashbacks to Jose Reyes and his late career redux in Queens. Remember? That wasn’t the Jose Reyes who was turning singles into doubles, doubles into triples and forcing opposing pitchers to balk because he disrupted their concentration.
Reyes 2.0 was slower. His bat speed had diminished. Reyes knew it. The Mets knew it. The opposition knew it.
I am being honest about what I see with my own two eyes. This is not a “Robinson Cano sucks” tirade. But, let’s face it, Cano is in decline and the Mets have a difficult decision to make.
One, Cano is under contract for 2022 and 2023 for $48 million ($40 million paid by the Mets). If Cano continues to struggle, would he consider a buyout at a reduced amount and retire?
Two, gravitas. There is that word again. It means little to nothing to fans, especially if Cano is lolling in the lineup. On the inside, Cano is revered and his presence is meaningful. Maybe the Mets will keep him in 2022 in a pinch-hitting role, minimize his playing time and make a decision after the season.
As New York Mets beat reporter Deesha Thosar noted:
It’s getting tougher and tougher for Showalter to continue defending the team’s decision to put Cano in the lineup, let alone plug him in as the designated hitter while Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis both sit on the bench … yes, the Mets lineup is lengthened and deeper than previous years. The opportunity to do damage can come from just about anywhere in the lineup, but so far, one key spot is being wasted on Cano … The reality is Cano knows he’s on a short leash. If he doesn’t start producing — and soon — he could be off the roster as early as May 2, when rosters are trimmed from 28 men to 26. That will be GM Billy Eppler’s first such opportunity to show what his organization is about: cutting a struggling hitter who’s eating up roster space, or keeping him for his experience and so-called leadership in the clubhouse.
Perhaps the lesson that will learned is that ballplayer cannot survive on gravitas alone.