BY Steve Rudman 02:14PM 12/06/2013

What’s The Bigger Story: Cano Or Petersen?

Huge sports day in Seattle with Robinson Cano agreeing with the Mariners and Chris Petersen agreeing with the Washington football team. Which story is bigger? Vote here.

Robinson Cano, ex-Mariner Ichiro in the background, agreed to a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Mariners Friday not long after Chris Petersen agreed to move from Boise State to Washington. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

It’s hard to recall a day in Seattle sports history when two bigger headlines crashed into each other with a bang louder than Friday: “Mariners Agree With Cano For $240 Million,” and “Done Deal: Chris Petersen To Coach Huskies.” What an unprecedented double wow, probably the biggest this market has witnessed.

Irrelevant for so long, the Mariners were essentially forced to award Cano the third-largest contract in baseball history (tied with Albert Pujols) in order to get him to relocate to the Pacific Northwest. The deal speaks to the club’s profound desperation, must have made Howard Lincoln gag on the 10-year commitment, and represents a shift in emphasis.

For two years the Mariners have preached patience as they developed their young ball club. The Cano move says patience has gone the way of Eric Wedge, as it must be. Time to make a splash now.

Ten years and $240 million for Cano is a magnum overpay. The second half of the contract, when Cano plays his age 36-40 seasons, could become a haunt job of the first order. But the Mariners had to do it because they had run out of options: Attendance at Safeco Field sagged to 1.7 million last season (from a high of 3.5 million in 2002) and the Mariners are now the No. 3 ticket in their own neighborhood behind the Seahawks and Sounders. No wonder they don’t want the competition from pro basketball and hockey.

Cano can’t carry a club himself any more than Ichiro could in his prime, so the Mariners are not likely done spending. In fact, if the Mariners do not make the most of the front end of Cano’s contract by substantially spending on more talent, especially offensive talent, signing Cano will become a huge mistake.

The hot talk is that the Mariners might trade promising pitching prospect Taijuan Walker as part of a package to import free agent pitcher David Price from Tampa to a rotation anchored by Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Part of that package could include second baseman Nick Franklin, who just lost his job. Dustin Ackley is also in play, and everyone else should be. Even with Cano, the Mariners are a long way from competing with the Athletics, Rangers and Angels.

The Cano signing should not be viewed as adding a piece as much as it should be seen as sending all the dominoes on the board tumbling. That’s why his acquisition is going to be among the most significant in franchise history.

Chris Petersen, perhaps the most notable man to walk the streets of Yuba City, CA., provides the Huskies the opportunity to finally get it right after five years of Steve Sarkisian, always an interim head coach until the USC job opened up; four years of Tyrone Willingham, a hire worthy of Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong; two-year stop-gap Keith Gilbertson; and four years of Rick Neuheisel, a victory of telegenics over substance.

Petersen gives the Huskies their first opportunity to become a BCS-caliber team since Don James departed in 1992. He won big at Boise State, twice produced BCS teams, and should not have difficulty taking the program to a higher level than Sarkisian, a good recruiter who too often messed up while wearing the headsets on game days.

So, to the point:


  • Jamo57

    In terms of which single individual will have the greatest impact simply by himself, it’s got to be Petersen.

    “…four years of Tyrone Willingham, a hire worthy of Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong…” Good one. LOL

  • Effzee

    Clearly, Petersen. The Huskies are relevant, whereas the Mariners would like to be. The Cano signing has moved them at least an inch or two in the direction of relevance, with several miles yet to go.

  • jafabian

    Might be the Cano story because Mariner brass is typically conservative in their dealings. And contracts of this size is usually reserved for large market teams. However Petersen will have the bigger impact whereas at best Cano means another 5-7 wins unless the M’s add more players to the roster.

    Cano is recognized nationally if not more. Petersen isn’t. Yet.

    • Buggy White

      Twice National Coach of the Year, only guy to have done that, is not ‘recognized nationally’? Please…a co-worker asked me today what position Cano plays!

  • Will

    The Cano story is bigger but the Petersen story is better.

    • ksmyth

      Will, it’s hard to choose, and it definitely depends on your interests. I think you have it backwards. The Peterson story is bigger. As head coach, he’s more likely to have a bigger impact on the Huskies. But the Cano signing is better because it could mean the end of the Mariners’ long journey into darkness. As a fan, I can only hope.

      • Will

        I think the Cano signing is too asymmetrical … unless the M’s sign additional proven hitters, Cano’s impact will be marginal, such as, he gets his hits and is constantly stranded at first or second.

        I like the Petersen signing, it feels “right” because he has the skill to elevate an already ascending Husky program.

  • just passing thru

    nice picture, Drew. Cano with a blurry Ichiro in the background at Safeco.

  • Pixdawg13

    Petersen. Cano’s signing may be the beginning of a large impact series of signings/trades.

    The BIG-impact Mariners story would be either a sale or the replacement of Howie.

  • RadioGuy

    Petersen, easily. The Huskies bring a nationally-recognized (and sought after) coach to an improving program, and it’s my guess that Pete won’t have to deal with the kind of meddling from above that any manager of the Mariners has had to endure as part of his job. The UW just took a big step closer toward a return to the Rose Bowl and national prominence…Petersen can flat-out coach.

    Cano? Big bucks for a very good player, but one who so far has never had an impact on ticket sales. At least I’ve never heard the line, “Hey, let’s go to the ballgame…Robinson Cano is in town.” Winning? As long as Howard Lincoln and his errand boy Jack are running the show, the Mariners could bring Babe Ruth back from the dead and it won’t matter. Geoff Baker’s column with quotes from Eric Wedge and Tony Blangino confirms everything.

  • Roslyndawg

    Cano may prove to be no story at all. How many supposed superstars come here and flame out? Why does this happen? And they then sometimes move on and are stars again (Beltre). I’d like to see the BA’s before coming to Seattle and in Seattle of the whole flock of them….Sexton, Beltre, Aurilla, Spezio, etc etc. How about an article analyzing this weird phenomenon?