Report: Cardinals close to getting Holliday from A's

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Rumors about the A’s and Cardinals working on a trade for Matt Holliday
have been swirling for the past couple days, and according to Tim
Kurkjian of ESPN.com the deal is now on the verge of becoming official:

The Athletics and Cardinals are close to completing a trade that
would send outfielder Matt Holliday to St. Louis in exchange for third
baseman Brett Wallace, outfielder Shane Peterson and right-handed
pitcher Clayton Mortensen.

Last night our own Matthew Pouliot analyzed the potential St. Louis-Oakland deal
and concluded that Brett Wallace was a reasonable haul for Holliday, so
under that assumption the A’s would be doing very well by also picking
up 2008 second-round pick Shane Peterson and 2007 first-round pick
Clayton Mortensen (although neither has been all that impressive since
being drafted).

In fact, a Wallace-Peterson-Mortensen return would be fairly similar
in terms of overall value to the three-player package of Carlos
Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith that the A’s sent to the
Rockies for Holliday in November. Of course, simply treading water in
the value department while paying Holliday a whole bunch of money isn’t
what the A’s had in mind at the time of the original deal.

On the other hand, merely recouping that value is pretty good with
Holliday hitting .286/.378/.454 after batting .319/.386/.552 in
Colorado. For the Cardinals, giving up last year’s first- and
second-round picks along with a potentially useful 24-year-old pitcher
would be a very steep price for two months of Holliday, but the ability
to either re-sign him at a discount or take draft picks when he walks
as a free agent balances the scales.

All in all, Kurkjian’s reported 3-for-1 deal strikes me as a
reasonable move for both sides and perhaps a slight “win” for the A’s.
Many people believe that Wallace will become a star and at the very
least he looks likely to develop into an impact hitter, but I’m
somewhat skeptical about his true ceiling and if he can’t stick at
third base defensively the Cardinals don’t really have a spot for him
as long as that El Hombre guy is around.

Holliday represents a significant upgrade for the Cardinals, who’ve
been searching for a big bat to hit behind Albert Pujols and rank 14th
in the league with a measly .635 OPS from their left fielders. Two
strong months from Holliday and a pair of draft picks if he leaves as a
free agent could get them into the playoffs and then give them a shot
to select the next Wallace and Peterson come June.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.

Diamondbacks hire Mike Fitzgerald to head Research and Development department

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Mike Hazen, new Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Red Sox, addresses the media during a press conference to announce his promotion before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on September 24, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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According to an official announcement, the Diamondbacks have acquired former Pirates quantitative analyst Mike Fitzgerald as their new Director of Research and Development.

Fitzgerald joined the Pirates’ front office in 2012, where he frequently accompanied the team on the road to help breach the divide between analytics and the clubhouse. According to a profile written by Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh in 2014, Fitzgerald’s multifaceted approach brought balance and perspective to the organization, whether he was assisting coaches in making statistically sound decisions, optimizing the batting order, weighing in on scouting and personnel decisions, developing more effective defensive positioning, or keeping players and personnel appraised of the latest developments in sabermetrics.

In the wake of Fitzgerald’s departure, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington praised the Diamondbacks for a smart acquisition and said that the club has every intention of finding a replacement analyst, albeit one who will have some big shoes to fill.