Tuesday morning MVP chatter

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With the trade deadline gone, the amateurs signed (or not) and the sense that we still have a week or two before we can truly, truly get into the pennant races, what better time to start having MVP arguments?

First up, the NL, where Jonah Keri makes the shocking, yet surprisingly compelling claim that Albert Pujols is not necessarily the no-brainer choice we all think he is.

Then comes the AL, where the Mauer-Teixeira battle lines are being drawn.  Surprisingly, a pro-Mauer voice comes from the YES Network (I’m sure the author has been killed by the Yankee secret police right now, but it’s still worth reading).

I tend to view MVP arguments like I view political or religious discussions: there’s no way to convince anyone of anything they don’t already believe, so what’s the friggin’ point. Still, it’s only August, and I haven’t gotten tired of it yet, so argue away.

My insta-take: Pujols will win it because since the mid-90s or so, the writers have, for some reason, decided to disregard the voting rules by not taking pitchers’ MVP cases seriously. If Pedro didn’t win in 2000, there’s no way that Lincecum wins it in 2009 or any other pitcher wins it any time soon.

AL: I’m a Mauer guy, but with the Twins fading — and with the writers having an almost pathological aversion to giving Mauer his due — Teixeira or someone else is more likely.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.