Brewers' Weeks shoots down outfield move

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While the subject had died down during the last couple of years, the idea of putting Rickie Weeks in the outfield is again being kicked around in Milwaukee, this time because of Felipe Lopez’s stellar performance since arriving in a July trade.
Not surprisingly, Weeks is still completely against a possible move to center field.
“I would never go out there,” Weeks said. “I’ve talked to (general manager) Doug (Melvin) about it and it’s squashed, and that’s all that matters.”
Melvin, for the record, said he talked to Weeks’ agent about the possibility recently, though not the player.
“It’s never been put forward to him as, ‘Would you do this?'” Melvin said. “I talked to him about playing the outfield in general. He played the outfield in high school and in college, but he moved (to second) in college.”
Three years ago, the idea made plenty of sense. Weeks was a terrible second baseman when he entered the league. He was about as error-prone as anyone at the position, and while his outstanding speed should have led to great range, his poor footwork most nullified it.
Weeks, though, has gotten a whole lot better, to the point that UZR has rated him as almost exactly average over the last three years. I’d put him a little below, mostly because of some lingering awkwardness when turning the double play, but he is perfectly acceptable.
Could he be above average in center field? Possibly, though it’d surely take time. Weeks still has well above average speed, though injuries have taken a bit of a toll there. Since the learning curve would be steep, the Brewers would almost surely be better off with Weeks at second and Mike Cameron in center next year than with Lopez at second in center.
Still, a switch might still pay off for the long haul. Second basemen have a long and proud tradition of fading in their early-30s. Those blind double-play turns make the position more dangerous to play than any besides catcher, and Weeks has had big problems staying healthy. It’s quite likely that he’d have a longer career in center than at second and earn more money in the process.
The Brewers certainly will go along with his wishes. They’ll probably let Lopez go this winter and attempt to re-sign Cameron for a year or two. The idea of trading Weeks, who is a free agent after 2011, and re-signing Lopez figures to be broached. However, Lopez will want significantly more than the $3.5 million or so that Weeks figures to make in arbitration and it seems unlikely that Weeks will bring back a quality starting pitcher when he’s coming off wrist surgery.

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.