And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Giants 2, Mets 0: Carlos Beltran returns and goes 1 for 4 — and was caught stealing after the hit — but Tim Lincecum puts on his 2009 pants and throws a six hit shutout. And RBI double for Pablo Sandoval too, which is a far more important bounceback for the Giants if they want to get back in contention in the West.  Beltran on the caught stealing: “”I was trying to pick up the catcher’s sign,” Beltran said. “I saw two
fingers and I just felt that I was going to be able to make it. I guess
when you drink too many coffees and too much sugar before the game, it
makes you do crazy things.”  I know most baserunners are trying to do it, but I don’t know that I can remember a player saying, right after the game, that he was trying to snag the catcher’s signs like that.

Cardinals 7, Dodgers 1: Like Lincecum, it looks like Chris Carpenter benefited from the time off (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 6K 0 BB). Not so much for Clayton Kershaw, who gave up five runs over four and a third inefficient innings. Joe Torre: “He hadn’t pitched in a week, you’ve got to chalk it up to that.” Rest helps some guy, hurts others. Sometimes I think we don’t know a damn thing about pitching.

Angels 8, Mariners 3: Ichiro Suzuki and Erick Aybar both lead off and both drove in three runs. Eight runs on sixteen hits for the Angels is a good sign after stumbling into the break in a run-scoring funk. Which unlike most kinds of funk, isn’t good!

Cubs 12, Phillies 6: Picked a hell of a day to write my “is Jamie Moyer a Hall of Famer” post, eh? The aged one gets smacked around for six runs in three innings and Ryan Demptser handles the Phillies bats for six innings. Aramis Ramirez hit a couple of doubles and had four RBI and Derek Lee and Geovany Soto each had two-run bombs. Which is how they figured over the winter the lineup would work.

White Sox 8, Twins 7: The White Sox pulled off four hit-and-runs and got all bunty and stuff. As a fan I enjoy watching that stuff. As someone who tries to think hard about baseball, I worry about the diminishing returns of all of that. Worked last night, though. For the Twins, Joe Mauer had three hits and three RBIs, but Kevin Slowey couldn’t miss any bats. Oh, and Justin Morneau is on the DL now, so things just keep getting better for Minnesota.

Rangers 7, Red Sox 2: What happens when the flutterball doesn’t flutter: seven runs pm eight hits in two innings, that’s what happens. Three doubles for Josh Hamilton who now leads the AL in hitting. The Sox have dropped six of eight.

Braves 2, Brewers 1:  Jason Heyward returned. He had no hits, but he made two big defensive plays, each victimizing Casey McGehee. First he threw McGehee out at third when he tried to take two bases on a Jim Edmonds single, then he made a running, smash-into-the-wall catch of a McGehee drive.  In a game as close as this one, both plays were critical.  And with the Mets and Phillies losses, Atlanta leads them in the East by five and five and a half games, respectively.

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.