Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Athletics 5, Rangers 4: The promise of the Athletics’ offseason: adding a bit of offense to cover the holes from last year and bolstering the bullpen to solve the team’s other big weakness. Job well done as far as this game goes, as Hideki Matsui hit a walkoff homer in the 10th after the Athletics’ bullpen shut the Rangers out on two hits over four innings to end it. Grant Balfour made it interesting in the top of the 10th, but he wiggled out of it, so we’ll call that a bug and not a feature of the New and Improved Athletics.

Red Sox 9, Angels 5: Jered Weaver proves mortal. The Angels’ ace gets his first loss of the year after Boston tags him for three runs on six hits in six innings. Which isn’t a ton, but any hope of Weaver getting a no-decision was lost when Hisanori Takahashi and Francisco Rodriguez got lit up like a pinball machine in the seventh. All of Boston’s nine runs were driven in by the 2-5 hitters, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Youkilis and Ortiz.

Nationals 2, Giants 0: Tom Gorzelanny gave up only three hits in eight innings as the Giants continue to search for a way to score runs. In fact, they’ve been shut out three times in the past six games.  As I noted yesterday, it was Military Appreciation Night. Active duty members who have to wake up early tomorrow were probably pleased, therefore, that this game took only two hours and two minutes.

Braves 6, Brewers 2: The last time the Braves met Yovani Gallardo he shut ’em out on a two-hitter. This time the Atlanta bats do a bit better, scoring five runs on nine hits — plus four walks — in five innings. Jair Jurrjens has been outstanding in all four starts he’s had this season.

Yankees 5, Tigers 3: Seven straight losses for Detroit. This one was winnable. Down 3-0, the Tigers rallied to tie it in the seventh but the Yankees clawed back with two in the ninth. One of the runs scored on an Alex Avilia passed ball. But he also had two homers. And here I thought the book on him was that he was a good defensive catcher who couldn’t hit much.

White Sox 6, Orioles 2: Two homers for Paul Konerko and a sac fly to boot on a four-RBI night. Mark Buehrle allowed twelve baserunners — eight hits and four walks — in six and two-thirds innings of work, but he did not allow a single run to score.

Marlins 6, Cardinals 5: A Gaby Sanchez grand slam in the third gave the Marlins the lead, a Lance Berkman three-run shot in the bottom of the inning took it right back for the Cards. Mike Stanton would make the difference later, however, homering in the fifth and hitting a leadoff triple in the eighth and subsequently scoring on a sac fly.

Dodgers 5, Cubs 2: Andre Ethier is now halfway to Joe DiMaggio with 28-game hit streak. That’s not going to happen, but he is only three games short of the Dodgers’ record, set by Willie Davis in 1969. James Russell is now 0-4 with a 10.05 ERA since moving to the rotation to take over for the injured Andrew Cashner. It’s almost like Carlos Silva won that job out of spring training after all.

Pirates 4, Padres 3: The Pirates beat the Padres for the first time in ten games against them.

Astros vs. Reds: POSTPONED: These are the seasons of emotion and like the winds they rise and fall. This is the wonder of devotion – I see the torch we all must hold. This is the mystery of the quotient – Upon us all a little rain must fall.

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.