Pedro is looking good

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The Phillies have won ten in a row, the Mets stink, and even though I’m
a fan, I’m not sure the Braves have a high enough gear in their
transmission to catch up. In light of that, Philadelphia probably doesn’t need much more help this season. Unfortunately for their competition, however, they look like they could be getting it:

Pedro Martinez has taken a “really big step” forward after throwing
64 pitches over four innings in a simulated game. The Philadelphia
Phillies’ new right-hander faced hitters for the first time in 11 days
on Tuesday and afterwards said he was excited about the outing.

“Real, real good,” Martinez said. “Four innings, I was able to do
that. I didn’t feel tired. I felt like I could still do a little bit
more.”

Yeah, anyone can feel good at the driving range and then go out and hit
for crap, but the fact that Pedro felt good after throwing that many
pitches is a good sign. Given his stamina issues over the past couple
of years I’m dubious that he’ll be a truly effective starter, but if
Charlie Manuel can break conventional bullpen habits, Martinez could
certainly be useful as an uber-reliever, serving as a setup guy
sometimes, a spot starter other times and a secondary closer whenever
the need arises. Kind of a Swiss Army knife of a swingman, deployed in
such a way as to better preserve the other arms and to maybe even allow
starters to come back on shorter rest during the playoffs.

Little things like that can make the difference.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.