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Former coach slams Cano: 'He was the worst player'

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Van Slyke - the former All-Star who served as first base coach for the Seattle Mariners for the last two years - unloaded a barrage of criticism Thursday on Robinson Cano, slamming the second baseman's performance in 2015 while accusing him of costing people their jobs.

Van Slyke, fired along with manager Lloyd McClendon after the 2015 campaign, attributed the Mariners' struggles this year largely to Cano, who hit .287/.334/.446 (118 OPS+) with 21 homers in his second season since signing a 10-year, $240-million contract with Seattle.

"Your highest paid, supposedly best player - I mean Robbie’s not a bad guy, let me say that before I say anything bad about how he played," Van Slyke said in a lengthy interview with CBS Sports Radio 920. "But Robinson Cano was the single worst third-place, everyday player I've ever seen - I've ever seen for the first half of a baseball season. He couldn't drive home Miss Daisy if he tried. He couldn't get a hit when it mattered."

Though Cano did indeed struggle in the first half of the season, managing just a .660 OPS with six homers in his first 86 games, the six-time All-Star exploded after the All-Star break and finished the year with 2.1 WAR, the 10th-best mark among American League second basemen. His defense regressed a bit, however, as he managed minus-9 defensive runs saved - something Van Slyke was quick to belabor.

"He played the worst defense I've ever seen at second base," he said. "I mean I'm talking about the worst defensive second baseman ever - I've ever seen in 20 years in the big leagues. He couldn't catch the ball. No, I take that back. Any ball that was hit to him was an out. Any ball that he had a chance to turn a double play, he's still maybe the best in the game today. He's got a great arm."

Van Slyke also said Cano was responsible for several Mariners employees losing their jobs, including longtime general manager Jack Zduriencik, who was fired Aug. 28 with the Mariners' chances of qualifying for the postseason at less than one percent.

"Robinson Cano cost the GM his job," said Van Slyke. "The hitting coach got fired because of Cano. And the manager and the coaches got fired because of Cano. That’s how much impact he has on the organization. He was the worst player and it cost people their jobs in the process.”

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