Robinson Cano

This hasn’t been one of Robinson Cano’s better days

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Robinson Cano is aiming for one of the biggest contracts in baseball history as a free agent this winter, and it’s safe to say he’ll end up a very, very wealthy man. Still, two pieces of news today haven’t helped his cause at all.

Most will point to Dustin Pedroia’s seemingly under-market seven-year, $100 million extension with the Red Sox as a problem for Cano. Since Pedroia was already under control for 2014 and ’15, the new contract essentially amounts to a six-year extension worth $15 million per year, which is about half as much annually as Cano is going to be gunning for in a few months. Being that Pedroia is a $20 million-$25 million player right now, it seems like quite a bargain.

Personally, I don’t think Pedroia’s deal has any bearing on Cano’s situation. The two are comparable players, but their situations weren’t at all alike. The biggest factor here is that Pedroia was already under control for two more years; the Red Sox had little reason to pay him market value to get a deal done now. And regardless of whether a Pedroia extension could be worked out, the Red Sox weren’t going to be suitors for Cano this winter.

No, the potentially much bigger problem for Cano’s camp is that the Dodgers have reportedly signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero to a seven-year, $32 million contract, likely to play second base. The Dodgers are, right now, the richest team in baseball and they presented Cano with the most attractive alternative to the Yankees in free agency this winter. Of course, they still might; the Dodgers are so loaded that they could still sign Guerrero and make a huge bid for Cano later. After all, they didn’t let the $42 million Yasiel Puig signing prevent them from taking on Carl Crawford’s contract last year. But their desire for a second baseman will hinge on how Guerrero looks these next two months. Maybe he’ll be impressive enough defensively to warrant a move back to shortstop.

There’s certainly no reason to cry for Cano. Even if he can’t play the Dodgers off the Yankees, he’ll still get $25 million per year. But his hopes of a $200 million deal may hinge on another team stepping up, and typical big spenders like the Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Tigers and Phillies could all sit this one out.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

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Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.