Cano shows why he’s valuable

Just because Robinson Cano was a throw-in the Mets' blockbuster trade, it does not mean he should be discounted on what he can do as he demonstrated in his Mets' debut.

When the Mets traded Anthony Swarzak, Jay Bruce, Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn and Gerson Bautista to the Seattle Mariners, everyone viewed Edwin Diaz as the foundation of that blockbuster trade in return while Robinson Cano was looked at as a throw-in to that trade just for the Mets to eat his salary.

Diaz and Cano contributed in the Mets’ 2-0 victory over the Washington Nationals on Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park. Diaz made quite an impression by making quick work of the Nationals to get his first save as a Met, but he wasn’t the story of the game. It was the throw-in part of that trade.

Cano homered in his first at-bat as a Met in the first inning to give the Mets a 1-0 lead, and his RBI single in the eighth inning gave the Mets a 2-0 lead. To top off his day, he threw the ball to Wilson Ramos to get Victor Robles out in a rundown in the third inning.

One can debate what part of Cano’s contribution was important on this day. There’s no right or wrong answer on this since his home run, his RBI single or his heads-up play all played a role in this victory.

For my money, his decision to throw the ball to Ramos played a role in the Mets winning this game. If he does not make the heads-up play, Robles may have scored to tie the game or the Nationals would have a big inning and take a lead. That decision turned out to be the turning point of the game.

Cano’s veteran savviness proved to be valuable on this day, and that’s why no one should discount what he can do for the Mets. Look, he will not be the same player as he was with the Yankees. He likely will be on the decline as he enters the finish line of his contract that has five years remaining. But the Mets need to think what he can do now rather than the duration of his contract.

The former Yankee star can be the guy that gets the key hits like he did on Thursday. He gets how to handle the responsibility of playing in New York after serving apprenticeship with the Yankees. He showed he is such a smart player in situations just like he did when he got Robles out on a heads-up play.

This is what Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen is counting on when he acquired him this offseason. He knows the player well since he was his agent at the time. He understands something about Cano that can make him useful for the next two or three seasons.

The eight-time All-Star applies his body well in knowing how handle the grind of playing in a long season. He embraces playing every game, though Mets manager Mickey Callaway and Van Wagenen made it clear that it is not going to happen.

Cano slashed .303/.374/.471 (136 OPS+) with 22 doubles, 10 homers and 50 RBI in 80 games before he was suspended for PED use. The key word is before because now people question how he will do without steroids. There’s also concern he may take steroids again.

Smart money says he can still be useful, even without steroids. His savviness of grinding out good at-bats and finding ways to get hits can still help him. He can apply good habits to what he has learned over the years. If he is decent, he will help the Mets.

Remember the Mets are not relying on him to be a star. They want him to be a valuable contributor such as what he did in his first Mets game. If he hits 25 home runs and drives in 85 runs, the Mets would be happy to take it.

Cano enjoyed this day. He felt like a kid making his Major League debut. No one can blame him after so many questions about what he can do for the Mets. He seeked to make an impression, especially since he was happy to get back to playing in New York.

His teammates and his employers didn’t need much convincing. It was more of Mets fans that had to find a reason to be sold on him.

For one day, Cano had Mets fans talking on Twitter throughout the game by giving them a lot to cheer for.

The Mets won the game based on his bat and his instincts on the field.

Not bad for a guy viewed as a throw-in.

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