St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates

The Albert Pujols deadline was a big mistake

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Here’s Joe Strauss’ latest on the State of the Pujols negotiations.  Not much new in there other than the tidbit that Pujols’ agent Dan Lozano and Cadinals’ GM John Mozeliak are “in regular contact.”

All of this stuff — the deadline, the moving of the deadline for Musial’s thing, etc. — just makes me think that if it was Albert Pujols’ goal to limit the distractions of his contract status, he was probably way better off not setting a deadline at all.

Really: if it was wide open and fluid and talks could theoretically go on during the season, how many people would be writing stuff about his contract status right now?  Not many, I imagine.  It would be relegated to paragraph five of standard spring training stories, and would be tossed off with ” … and winning this year takes on greater importance given that it could be Albert Pujols’ last season in St. Louis.  That will be decided this winter, however. For now, the Cardinals look like the should challenge for the division crown if …”

Instead this is being watched like someone’s execution.  Deadline on Tuesday! No, wait! The governor called and has delayed it until tomorrow morning.  Pujols was just fed his last meal!  He’s walking out now! No contract has been signed!  Protesters are holding a vigil outside the gates of the stadium!

Just because negotiations proceed doesn’t mean that they need to be a distraction to the player.  The agent can see to that. Hell, the agent could just humor the team all summer and never bother the player at all.  Maybe that’s not ideal, but if, as Pujols says, avoiding distractions is the name of the game, such a course couldn’t have been worse than setting this ultra-dramatic cutoff tomorrow.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.