Jake Westbrook

Talks between Cards and Westbrook already “taking place”

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Things are falling into place for a long-term marriage between the Cardinals and right-hander Jake Westbrook.  The free agent told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in September that he would “definitely” be interested in returning to St. Louis and GM John Mozeliak shared the same feeling last week.

Now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is reporting that discussions are “taking place” and that Mozeliak and Co. have expressed a “high level of interest” in retaining their No. 3 starter.

Westbrook, 33, posted a 3.48 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over 12 starts with the Cardinals this season after joining the club as part of a three-team deal in late July.  He had a 4.22 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 33 overall outings with a 128/68 K/BB ratio in 202.2 innings.

The Cards will sport a starting rotation of Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Kyle Lohse next season.  If Westbrook is brought back, he would probably slot in between Carpenter and Garcia.  And maybe right after the Rookie of the Year Award candidate.

Now let’s talk money.  Westbrook earned $11 million this past season and will likely be asking for a similar salary over the next 4-5 seasons.  The Cardinals have to pay slugger Albert Pujols soon and must decide if there will be enough money left over for that possibly historic contract extension.

James McCann is in The Best Shape of His Life

Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann blows a bubble while warming up during a spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.

We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.

James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:

Spring training is less than a month away, folks!

Bo Jackson is not gonna change kids’ minds

1989:  Bo Jackson #16 of the Kansas City Royals practices his swing as he prepares to bat during a game in the 1989 season.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Last week Bo Jackson said that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have never played professional football and that he would never let his kids play. The sport is too violent, he said. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’”

Fair enough. Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, however, thinks that Bo could do more than simply give his opinion on the matter. He thinks Bo should become an official ambassador for Major League Baseball:

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, pick up the phone right now and call Bo Jackson. Tell him you have a job for him — vice president of something, whatever you would call the man in charge of converting a generation of young athletes to baseball. And pay him what he wants.

You won’t find a better symbol of the differences between the two sports than Bo Jackson. After all, he was an All-Star in both. Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball.

Bo, tell the children — baseball over football.

The Children: “Who is Bo Jackson?”

Yeah, I’m being a bit flip here, but dude: Jackson is 54 years-old. He last played baseball 23 years ago. I’d personally run through a wall for Bo Jackson, but I’m 43. I was 12 when he won the Heisman trophy. While he may loom large to middle aged sports writers, a teenager contemplating what sport to play is not going to listen to someone a decade or more older than his parents.

This isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s indicative of how most columnists process the world through their own experiences and assume they apply universally. It’s probably the biggest trap most sports opinion folks fall into.