Quick hits: Smoltz to miss next start

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– John Smoltz will miss his next start with right shoulder tendinitis.
The 42-year-old already received a cortisone shot to ease the pain and
expects to be ready for a start against the Cubs next Saturday. In four
starts since signing with the Cardinals, Smoltz is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA,
0.91 WHIP and 28/1 K/BB ratio in 22 innings. Todd Wellemeyer will take
his turn in the rotation against the Marlins on Monday.


– Brian Matusz was brilliant on Saturday, allowing just one run over seven innings in a 7-3 win over the Yankees.
The 22-year-old southpaw held the Bombers to just four hits, while
striking out three and walking two. The rookie seems to keep getting
stronger, having pitched seven innings in each of his last three
starts. Now with 157 2/3 innings under his belt in his first
professional season, it would be wise to shut the kid down on a
positive note. Because he has pitched just 44 2/3 innings over his
eight starts with the Orioles, Matusz would still be eligible for the
American League Rookie of the Year award in 2010.



From failing to sign first-round pick Matthew Purke to rumors that the
Rangers would bench struggling pitcher Kevin Millwood so that his $12
million for 2010 wouldn’t vest, Rangers owner Tom Hicks
said on Saturday that the team is continuing to conduct business as usual, even though the club asked Major League Baseball for a $15 million line of credit earlier this summer.



– Randy Johnson is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Monday with eyes on a return during the Rockies series.
Johnson, who earned his 300th career victory in June, hasn’t appeared
in a game since separating his shoulder in July. He isn’t likely to
return as a starting pitcher.

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.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.