The Mets and Cardinals played an epic game last night. Kinda.

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Mets Cards scoreboard.jpgEpic may be too strong a word, because make no mistake about it kids: this was 20 innings of some really, really dumb baseball. But you know what? I’m going to
give it a “so-bad-it’s-good” rating. There were so many head scratching “I-can’t-believe-what-I-just-saw” moments that, eventually, it reached the point of the sublime.  Let’s cover the highlights:

  • The winning pitcher was a closer. A starter got the save. The losing pitcher was a backup outfielder. While one guy threw a no-hitter in baseball last night, the Mets pitchers actually threw more combined no-hit innings. It was just one of them nights.
  • The managing here was pretty bad. The worst: in the bottom of the
    19th, trailing 1-0, Tony La Russa put on a pair of Bad Idea jeans and
    called for a steal — or maybe it was a hit-and-run, but either way it was terrible — with Ryan Ludwick on first base and Albert Freakin’
    Pujols at the plate. You know, the Albert Pujols who happens to be the
    best hitter in baseball. Ludwick was out, after which Pujols hit a
    double which would have easily scored Ludwick, and then Yadier Molina
    singled in Pujols. The game could have ended there, but alas it was only
    tied, and on it went to the 20th.
  • Position
    players Joe Mather and Felipe Lopez pitched — the first time two
    position players have pitched in the same game in 20 years — despite
    the fact that Kyle Loshe and Brad Penny probably could have gone an
    inning for St. Louis (Lohse did play left field, though). And heck, even if you’re going to pitch a position player, why not leave Lopez in there? He actually had better stuff than Mather did.
  • Jerry Manuel called for a bunt against Mather in the 19th for reasons I
    still can’t comprehend. And it was with Jose Reyes on first base and a catcher who had played all 19 innings thus far behind the plate and who had to have been totally gassed. You don’t take the bat out of Albert Pujols’ hands, but it seems like you can try to steal with Luis Castillo at the plate with your best baserunner on first and a guy — Mather — with no pickoff move or velocity on the mound.
  • That said, the Mets never really even got to Mather, scoring both of their runs off him on sac flies.
  • K-Rod was the only Mets pitcher in 20 innings to
    give up a run, yet he
    got the win, which means that the next guy who says that wins are the
    mark of a good pitcher is gonna get a talking-to.
  • Mike Pelfrey pitched
    the 20th for the Mets and got the save, which means he now leads the
    team in wins and saves.

But you know what? For as bad as some of this game was, and
for all we’ve said recently about game length, there was a certain
shambling glory to it. A baseball game went 20 innings in seven hours, last night, most of that
time with it being tied 0-0, and multiple astounding things occurred.  I have to say that I loved it.

Best of all: John Maine pitches for the Mets tonight with no bullpen to help him.  Should be fun!

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.

Colby Rasmus could start 2017 on the disabled list

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Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.

Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.

The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.