Despite his success while in the Big Apple, Robinson Cano never seemed to truly be much of a Yankees kind of guy. If you need evidence to support that claim, just take a look at the fresh chops that Cano was sporting when he stepped on the field for the first time as a Seattle Mariner for spring training on Tuesday. The question is, will that beard be worth the $240 million that the Mariner’s spent on Cano? And can one of the biggest draws to come to Seattle since Ichiro or Griffey Jr. pull the Mariners out of the slumps and get them into the postseason?
In 2013, the Mariners finished in last place in the AL West. With a record of 71-91, they were a full 25 games behind Oakland for first place in their division. 2012 and 2011 weren’t much better, as the Mariners found themselves at the basement of the division in both of those seasons as well. As a matter of fact, the list goes on in a trend that continues more than a decade back. During that time, Seattle finished either last or second to last in the AL West every year, except for their second place finish in 2007. To say that the pressure is on for Cano to get the Mariners back in the spotlight is an understatement.
The good news is that Cano has proven himself in the past five years. Keep in mind that was also under the bright lights and immense pressure that playing in New York City brings. Now that Cano has moved to the opposite coast and will be playing in a lesser baseball-crazed city, he’ll be able to relax a bit. That could be huge considering he already was statistically better than the combined efforts of all of the Mariners second basemen last year. In 2013, Cano batted .314, while the Mariners only hit .214, his slugging percentage was .516, compared to .330, and he only struck out 12.5% of the time, unlike the Mariners batters who went down swinging 24.3% of the times they came to the plate.
Also joining Cano in Seattle will be Corey Hart, the former slugger from the Milwaukee Brewers. It’s likely that Cano will bat third and Hart will hit cleanup after him. However, even with the additions of Hart and Cano, the Mariners have their work cut out for them. They still have to find a way to get ahead of Oakland, who seems to win every year with a rag-tag group of guys, the Angels, who have shown their willing to spend as much money necessary to win, and the Rangers, who have plenty of solid additions in their own right this season.
All that said, the Mariners are 30/1 favorites to win the 2014 World Series with Cano on their squad. And while that puts them above about half of the league in terms of chances to win it all, they still rank as the fourth team in their own division as the Angles and Rangers sit at 20/1 and the A’s are at 18/1.