I have a hunch that while many of us were tuned in to all the drama revolving around the sequester or automatic budget cuts, there were quite a few major league ballplayers just thinking about that next big nine-digit contract. One of those players in particular happens to be New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.
Cano happens to be in the walk year of his seven-year, $56-million dollar contract and has hinted he would like a new contract in the neighborhood of $189 million over the next seven years. That works out to about $27 million dollars a year. Not bad pay if you can get it, or if you're a very good but not great baseball player.
Make no mistake about it, Cano is a very solid hitting and slick fielding second baseman who is also prone to jogging out ground balls and folding like a cheap suit when the bright lights of the postseason set in. If you listen to New Yorks sports radio, they will always tell you that these guys get paid to perform in the postseason. But during last year's postseason debacle to the, Cano was hitless in 29 AB's. During the regular season, Cano batted .291 with 29 home runs and 102 RBI's. Not the kind of numbers you want to hang up when you are about to become a free agent.
For those of you who happen to follow baseball and in particular the Yankees, some of the greats from the past are probably rolling over in their graves at the kind of money they are paying these days for average performances. At the peak of his career, Joe Dimaggio made about $100,000. DiMaggio, by my standards, is among the top five greatest players ever. This was a guy that ran hard on every hit ball and never dogged it.
He was asked once by a teammate I believe as to why he always played the game so hard.. His answer? "Because some kid might be seeing me play for the first time." That's the kind of attitude that made ballplayers from generations past so well-liked and respected.
The numbers that Cano produced last year as his springboard for a nine-digit payoff in 2014, DiMaggio produced in his rookie year alone at the rookie minimum in 1936. Joe D's stats that year were 29 HR's, 125 RBI's and a solid .323 BA. He made the all-star team and finished 8th in the MVP voting that year.This is a player that had a 56-game hitting streak in 1941 and, amazingly, struck out only 13 times in that legendary season.
Cano, for all of his talent, could never become 1/10th the player that DiMaggio was, even after serving his country for three years during WWII.
As a baseball executive with the New York Yankees, I would have a very hard time justifying giving a good ball player a nine-digit contract for sub-par hustle and underperforming in the playoffs year after year. In the era of steroids and small ballparks, I find it hard to believe that mediocre talent makes so much money. But as the saying goes, only in America.