Robinson Cano sets postseason record with 0-for-26 skid

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Robinson Cano has a way of making baseball look effortless. Which is all well and good when he’s batting his usual .310 with very good power. When he slumps, his usual manner makes him look lackadaisical and disinterested, even though he might be anything but.

Cano went hitless in a fifth straight game Sunday in the loss to the Tigers, and he’s now in an 0-for-26 skid that ranks as the longest hitless streak ever to be compiled in a single postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The second baseman also made a key defensive miscue in the seventh inning today, mishandling the relay from short on what should have been an inning-ending double-play ball. Quintin Berry scored the Tigers’ first run of the game on the play.

Overall, Cano is 2-for-32 for the postseason, though he does have four RBI.Raul Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki, with five apiece, are the Yankees leaders.

What makes Cano’s struggles all the more incredible is that he finished the season on a remarkable 25-for-39 tear. He was so hot that even if one sticks the 2-for-32 onto the end of that, he still has a .380 average in his last 71 at-bats.

Given that Cano is the Yankees’ best player, there’s not going to be any benching him. He’ll just have to hit his way out of the slump, something that figures to be pretty difficult with the Tigers throwing Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer the next two games. Cano has hit .226 with no homers in 31 at-bats against Verlander. He’s 2-for-11 with a homer against Scherzer.

Red Sox owner: “spending money helps”

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The other day Rob Manfred said, as he and other owners have said often in the past, that there is no correlation between payroll and winning. He said that defensively, in response to criticism of the slow free agent market of the past two offseasons.

As we have noted in the past, Manfred is not being honest about that. While, yes, in any given year there can be wild variation between payroll and win total — the Giants stunk last year, the A’s won 97 games — common sense dictates otherwise. What’s more, a recent study has shown that there is a pretty strong correlation between winning and payroll over time. Yes, you can fluke into a big season with a low payroll — Deadspin compared it to a cold snap occurring during a time of climate change — but if you want that “sustained success” teams claim they want, the best way to ensure it is to spend more money over time.

If you know anything about baseball labor history, though, you know well that the Commissioner and the owners will continue to mischaracterize the dynamics of the business as it suits them. Mostly because — present lefty sportswriters notwithstanding — very few people push back on their narratives. Fans tend to parrot ownership’s line on this stuff and, more often than not, baseball media acts as stenographer for ownership as opposed to critic. That gives owners a far greater ability to shape the narrative about all of this than most institutions.

Which makes this all the more awkward. From David Schoenfield of ESPN:

In apparent contradiction to his own commissioner, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said Monday that, while there is not a perfect correlation between a bigger payroll and winning, “spending more money helps.”

Which is right. The correlation is not perfect — teams can spend a lot of money on a bad team if given the chance and a low payroll team like the Rays can bullpen their way to 90 wins — but you’re way more likely to win year-in, year-out if you’re spending than if you go cheap all the time and hope for a miracle season.

Which is not to say that Henry is some labor activist owner. He and his fellow front office officials have a long history of backing the league office on just about everything that matters and will no doubt do so with labor matters in the runup to the next CBA negotiation. The owners tend not to have a solidarity problem.

But Henry does seem to draw the line at peddling baloney, which is a shockingly necessary thing when the league and the union’s relationship turns acrimonious.