Ump's needless ejection of Beltre bad luck for Red Sox

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On Tuesday night, Phillies slugger Ryan Howard was ejected from a 16-inning loss to the Astros when he argued a questionable check-swing strike call by third base umpire Scott Barry. The hook came quickly, without mercy, and forced the Phillies to move Raul Ibanez to first base and pitcher Roy Oswalt to the outfield.

The Phillies would eventually lose the contest, 4-2.

On Wednesday, an umpire again took center stage when Boston third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected for – well really for nothing. Take it away, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe:

So it turns out Adrian Beltre was ejected because he told umpire Dan Bellino that he wasn’t talking to him.

After he struck out in the second inning, Beltre was talking to Felix Hernandez in the Seattle dugout, playfully telling him in Spanish that would hit a home run his next time up. As the two went back and forth, Bellino somehow thought Beltre was speaking to him.

When Beltre told him twice that he wasn’t, he was tossed out.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Beltre said. “I never said anything to him. Nothing.”

One thing Abraham fails to mention is that Beltre had complained loudly about the third strike called on him in the second inning – a pitch right down the middle at the knees, mind you – so the Red Sox third baseman isn’t completely innocent in all of this. Watch the video here.

That being said, ejecting a guy for saying “I wasn’t talking to you,” is out of line. Nobody goes to a game to watch an umpire, especially a minor league fill-in umpire, as Bellino is. Without their star third baseman, the Red Sox went on to lose to the Mariners 4-2, missing a chance to pull within 4 1/2 games of co-AL East leaders New York and Tampa Bay.

That doesn’t mean the Red Sox would have won the game if Beltre had played the entire game. But you hate to see a quick hook from a minor league umpire affecting a playoff race in any form.

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Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.

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.