Takashi Saito, Ron Roenicke, Ed Sedar

HBT Weekend Wrapup

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Between legitimate distractions and frivolous ones, it was a hard weekend to concentrate on baseball news. Thankfully, aside from the usual injury stuff you see this time of year, there wasn’t a heck of a lot of it.  The highlights:

  • Ruben Amaro gets a four year extension. And he was so slick about it that Phillies ownership didn’t know they were even giving it to him until the papers had already been signed. He’s that good.
  • Major League Soccer thinks the Wilpons would make great owners. I’d crack wise here, but given that just about every MLS team’s entire payroll runs to around what the Mets are paying Mike Pelfrey, I figure that even the Wilpons could swing it.
  • The Nationals apparently feel that Bryce Harper is not quite ready to have somebody else carry his bags, to hit white balls for batting practice, to play in ballparks that are like cathedrals, to stay in hotels that have room service, to be around women with long legs and brains and, most importantly, to face pitchers who throw ungodly breaking stuff, exploding sliders.
  • The Bergen record reports that Johan Santana will miss all of 2011. The Mets and Santana say that the Bergen Record is lying.  In other news the Mets stand by their denial that Kelvim Escobar is unable to grip a baseball and anticipate his first action of 2010 any day now.
  • The Red Sox indicate that Diasuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield could be had in a trade. In other news, I’m selling some real estate on which I speculated in the Las Vegas suburbs in 2006 and an old truck I drove into the ground for the past 20 years. Tailgate is broken. Serious inquiries only, please.
  • Bengie Molina is basically retired, but he’ll consider a comeback if the right opportunity comes along. He’s a good candidate for that seeing as though “getting back into playing shape” is more of a theoretical concept for him.
  • Mitchell Page enters baseball Valhalla. He hit .307/.405/.521 in 592 plate appearances in 1977. That was a better OPS than Reggie Jackson and George Brett had that year.

And into the week we go.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.