Quick hits from Wednesday night

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I didn’t get a chance to post my usual “And That Happened” recaps this
morning, but here are some quick hits regarding last night’s games:

Andruw Jones went crazy against the Angels last night, hitting three homers.
Which is the same number of homers he hit all last year. And which, for
the season, puts him at .250/.348/.581. That sound you hear is me
banging my head against the wall in the realization that he, and not
Jeff Francoeur, could have very easily been manning right field in
Atlanta this year. Rangers are in first, now, kids. They’re for real,
and my pre-season prediction that had them winning the west still looks
prescient. Sure, it was a wild-ass guess, but that’s what we call
prescience before the fact.

Oliver Perez is back, and better than ever! Oh, wait, He walked seven guys. Dodgers: how do you lose a game to Oliver Perez when he walks seven guys?

Chris Volstad and Wandy Rodriguez
each pitched five-hit shutouts. It is such a bizarre coincidence that
anything so mind boggglingly improbable could have happened purely by
chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and
clinching proof of the non-existence of God.

Jose Contreras apparently spent his rehab time earlier this season working with Ponce de Leon.
And in this crazy, mixed-up world, isn’t it refreshing that you can
still count on some things in life? Thing like the Indians sucking?

Prince Fielder legged out an infield single
that drove in the go-ahead run and which caused the U.S. Geological
Survey and several local fire departments to go on high alert. See,
because he’s a big guy and there was a lot of thigh-friction and . . .
ah, well, never mind.

The Tigers finally figured out how to beat Zack Greinke. Leyland:
“When you are going against a guy like Greinke, you know that you are
going to have to get a great game from your starter. If you give up
three or four runs, he’s going to beat you, so I was very happy with
what French did tonight.” Thank goodness for the Tigers that Greinke
still pitches for the Royals, so three or four runs aren’t all that
distinct a possibility.

You always want to win games, but I bet the Reds are just as happy to finally see an effective Homer Bailey (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 6K 0 BB) as they would have been to see a victory.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.