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Good morning from Day Two of the Winter Meetings

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At least I think it’s morning. That ever-increasing light in the sky and the incessantly-beeping clock next to my bed says it’s morning, but my body is screaming at me that I require far more sleep than I just received, so clearly it must me, oh, midnight.  Oh well, the sky and clocks have been wrong before.

The first day of the Winter Meetings was highly eventful. Some deals got inked. Some deals fell through. Some deals got done but we’re all supposed to pretend they didn’t. One guy made the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame, however, made itself look silly.  There’s also a notorious rumor floating around that a bald blogger and another writer were captured on video — with said video being taped by a third writer — in the hotel lobby singing “Laid” by James at around 2AM, high notes included. If you see such a video on the web today, rest assured, it is a pure fabrication.

In other news, one of the most striking things of Day One was that, though I didn’t believe it possible, the speed of rumor-dissemination has gotten even faster this year than it was last year.  A few years ago rumors started to get spread fast by reporters reading MLB Trade Rumors and then putting up stories about what they saw there. Last year, for the first time, a large number of writers were finally on Twitter.  This year everyone is on Twitter and most now have smart phones. As a result, rumors go from a single tweet to a widespread topic of conversation in a minute or two.

Yesterday, for example, someone at ESPN LA tweeted that the Dodgers had made an offer for Prince Fielder. Within the time it took for a couple of other reporters to make a phone call to confirm it, it had become a bona fide rumor everyone was writing about (us included). Then it was debunked quickly and everyone updated (us included). What to make of this?

The conventional reaction is for people to wring their hands and talk about irresponsible reporting and how back when they were riding dinosaurs to the newsroom, people did not play so fast and loose with such matters.  I’m not a fan of this reaction. Partially because it’s not true. People’s tongues wagged about everything back then and if they had the means to spread such things quickly they would have.  They were just left to wag their tongues in the lobby. That is, when drunk managers weren’t teaching people how to do a proper hook slide in the bar.

My view of these fast-but-then-debunked rumors is that they’re great fun. Let’s be clear about something: baseball is not national security. The fate of the Republic is not at stake. If some baloney gets thrown around a bit — at least as long as it doesn’t involve someone’s personal life or truly serious matters — no one is harmed. Not even the allegedly respectable and noble calling of journalism.  The fans — and we’re all fans — can have a few minutes of fun speculating on why the Brewers would take so little for Prince Fielder and wonder if the Dodgers are contenders in the West again.  Inventing things from whole cloth for cynical purposes is obviously horrible, but if someone runs with a rumor a tad too quickly, we will all survive.

Our view of such rumors at HardballTalk: to let you know what people are talking about. To give you context for the news and rumors so you can judge them for yourself between the time you hear it and the time the authoritative word comes down (and to understand the stuff after word comes down).  We want everyone to get their news right in the first instance, but in the event they don’t, we want to have fun with stuff.  Because this is baseball, and it’s supposed to be fun, dammit.

Anyway, back into the trenches for Day Two.  If Day One is any indication, we’re in for a ball.

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)
Getty Images
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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.