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Mets: Why the Robinson Cano injury is a blessing in disguise

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 28: Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Mets reacts after getting hit on a foul tip in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field on April 28, 2019 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 28: Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Mets reacts after getting hit on a foul tip in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field on April 28, 2019 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
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Robinson Cano was just starting to heat up before hitting the IL for possibly the remainder of 2019. Despite losing him for an extended period of time, his loss may be a blessing in disguise for the New York Mets.

Robinson Cano is an 8-time all-star, a 5-time silver slugger, a 2-time Gold Glove winner, and a top 10 MVP finisher 6 different times. Despite going into his age 36 season, the New York Mets thought they would be able to get part of the Cano that won all these rewards.

Cano got off to a dreadful start to the year this season. From the start of the season up to the All-Star Break, Cano hit .240, had a .287 OBP, slugged a dreadful .360, hit 4 home runs, and only drove in 18 runs in 65 games.

The second half of the season is a different story. Cano got off to a hot second half before getting hurt. In 21 games he was hitting .289, with a .318 OBP, a .578 slugging percentage, with 6 home runs and 14 RBI.

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Even though Cano was hot in a small sample size in the second half, and there is a reason to believe he would have continued his hot stretch, it is arguably a good thing he got hurt. Cano’s injury opens the door to other players, younger and arguably better.

Earlier in the season when Cano was struggling heavily, he was still playing every day. Even though Cano was hot recently and could keep it up to an extent, if he did cool off you know he would be in the lineup and weighing it down because he did earlier in the year too. The Mets are now forced to shake up the lineup and give other players a chance with him injured.

Joe Panik, who was designated for assignment right around the same time Cano was injured, was able to be brought in as a result. Panik is a former All-Star and Gold Glove winner, and he is only 28 years old. Panik has struggled a bit this year, but he is also still relatively young and is under contract for 2020 through arbitration.  Not to mention, Panik is also from the area, growing up in New Jersey and attending college at St. Johns University in Queens.

If the Mets can get part of the old Panik the deal would be a steal, they would be getting a top defender and a career .270 hitter, which is not bad at all. In a small sample size, he has been pretty good for the Mets so far, hitting .333 in 9 games and 29 at-bats.

The Cano injury also opens the door for Jeff McNeil to slide back into his natural position, second base. McNeil has been playing the outfield this year due to multiple injuries out there and an overflow of infielders. Moving McNeil back to second would make the team significantly better defensively with McNeil back at a position he is more natural at, and it allows the team to put a natural outfielder in the outfield to replace McNeil.

McNeil got hurt not too long after Cano did, but McNeil isn’t expected to be out too long. There is a chance Cano doesn’t return this year so when McNeil does return, he can split time in the outfield with a natural outfielder and at second with Panik.

If Cano does come back later this season, he will more than likely be starting at second base every day going forward. Panik would presumably be moved to the bench and could be a pretty good pinch hitter assuming he plays to at least his career average, and he could serve as a late-game defensive replacement.

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