Interleague time brings the usual realignment talk

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Every year, just as interleague play gets going, someone decides that it’s time for baseball to undergo some sort of divisional realignment. They just go together as topics I guess. Probably because they both involve messing with the natural order of things. I have no idea.

Just read one by Tom Van Riper in Forbes. It’s like a lot of others in its desire to obliterate the old leagues and group teams by geography while preserving some rivalries.  As with most such proposals it creates more problems than it solves, in my view. I mean, get a load of his “Eastern Conference Northeast Division”:  Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Blue Jays. And you think that Toronto fans complain about their division now?

Of course I think we can deal with that as long as his proposal for the Braves’ division stays: Atlantic Division – Orioles, Nationals, Braves, Marlins, Rays.  Sold!

Seriously, though, here’s my thing on realignment: if it is to be done, it should be done in increments, to solve specific problems and only when making minor changes makes manifest sense. Like, say, if the Rays relocated to Portland Oregon or something.  Otherwise, you’re probably best served just eliminating divisions altogether, going to a fully balanced schedule and taking the top 4-6 teams in overall record for the playoffs.

Wait: that’s so crazy it just might work!

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.