Mariners re-brand Robinson Cano

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Cano and Edgar a mirror of each other? (lookoutlanding.com)

Cano and Edgar a mirror of each other? (lookoutlanding.com)

Like many Mariner fans, I look forward to the commercials that come out–god knows the product on the field has been tough to watch. We all know the Mariner marketing team uses weirdness and levity to promote the great game. Whether it is 1994 Jay Buhner doing stand up, the 2003 bat flip commercial, or the Larry Bernandez series they usually are fun, odd, and interesting.

Recently, the Mariners came out with Robinson Cano and Edgar Martinez were in a commercial that reprised the old “mirror image” Marx brother gag. This commercial is amusing; however, there is something bigger going on. The subtext suggests that Jerry Dipoto is re-branding Cano as something that Cano’s extraordinary contract demands–greatness.

Cano simply put has not been as great as his contract demands. Seattle Mariner fans (myself included,) were not very thrilled at the former GM Jack Zduriencik giving a 31 year old Robinson Cano a 10-year, $240 million contract.

While the 6x All-Star, former second baseman for the Yankees, had been outstanding in his years in New York, it was difficult for any fan to get excited about a player who will most likely be past his prime (if not already) to earn that kind of money.

Good not great in 2014

Cano with an Ichiro impersonation. Fans want to see an Edgar impersonation. (www.sportingnews.com)

Again not to beat about the bush, but a man making the most money at his position should have legendary numbers. Cano finished the season with a .314 batting average with 14 HR and 82 RBI. Those numbers are good, but not great. Cano would make All-Star, but most people believe that was from past greatness rather than the current season. Later, we would find out that Cano was suffering from an intestinal parasite and that hampered his ability to finish the season strong.

Mediocre in injury plagued 2015

Cano suffered an injured toe in the offseason, followed by horrible acid reflux, and a sports hernia. He hit .287 with 21 home runs, 34 doubles, and 79 RBIs. This seems like a Herculean effort from a man with all these injuries; however, his inability to produce in the first 2 months set the team back and ended up getting Jackie Z fired.

Rebranding

The Mariners new GM, Jerry Dipoto, has come in and all of a sudden we see a Robinson Cano participate in a commercial that puts him front and center of the fans as the “heir” to Edgar Martinez. I do not think that it is coincidental that the comedic advertisement pairs a Mariner Legend in Edgar, with the highest paid player on the team in Cano.

Greatest DH of all time (www.reddit.com)

Edgar (from Puerto Rico) came to Seattle and performed at a Hall of Fame worthy level, to the point where the MLB award for excellence as a designated hitter is named after him. Cano, a naturalized citizen from the Dominican Republic, came to Seattle with more silver slugger awards than you can (forgive the pun) shake a stick at.

With an approach at the plate that mimics Edgar’s, (note not-so-subtle reference at the end of the commercial) Dipoto and the M’s seem to be creating a narrative of Cano as a hero rather than a scapegoat.

The challenge for Cano

Additionally, the challenge seems to have been put squarely on Cano to become something that he has not been.  Cano has the challenge before him to take over as the face of the team.   While the Mariners had Griffey, Randy, Ichiro, and ARod, this town has always been an Edgar town.  While the Mariners have King Felix, Kyle Seager, and Nelson Cruz, Cano is being challenged to exceed all of those guys in production and as a face for the team.

King Felix is currently the heart of the team, but as an everyday player and 3rd in the lineup, Cano must become the every day captain of this squad.  He must be the one to plaster on a smile when the cameras are on him.  Cano must be the one to accept responsibility for a loss.  And most importantly, Cano must be the one to drive in runs when there is a runner in scoring position.

Does Cano have the make up?

Cano at spring training (www.sportsonearth.com)

As a member of the community

Cano spends a lot of time with his charity in Hackensack, New Jersey (pediatric rehabilitation ward). Additionally, Cano has the RC22 Foundation which helps children in need in Seattle and in the Dominican Republic. As a presence in the community, Cano is visible and make an impact.  Check.

Plays hard

Cano is a lifetime .307 hitter and a multi-time gold glove player. In his worst year, he performs better than 1/2 the MLB. With his poor health in his two years in Seattle, Cano performed admirably and was insistent on playing through sickness.  Check.

Respect of peers

When former M’s coach Andy Van Slyke ripped into Cano for his performance and attitude, pretty much to a man-jack every player came to Cano’s aid to defend him; showing the respect he has in the locker room.  Check.

Cano has to be Edgar

Edgar! (thesportsquotient.com)

Wherein lies the rub? At 33 years old (and with his recent illness/injury), I can not see Cano achieving what I would consider worth his contract. And what is “worth it?” Well, if we are comparing him to Edgar, it would have to be Edgar at his prime.

For me to buy that Cano is the second coming of Edgar, he would have to produce at an Edgar level. What did Edgar do at age 33? Edgar batted .327, had a 1.059 OPS (on base + Slugging), 121 runs, 52 doubles, 26 homeruns, and 123 RBI.

For Cano, he will have to have numbers similar to that for 5-6 years for me to consider him the next Edgar.  Is it fair to demand this of Cano? With this commercial and a 10-year, $240 million contract, the answer is yes it is fair to demand this production.

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