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Introducing Carlos Beltran: “RBI whore”

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Joel Sherman’s latest column is about the fury and backlash among Mets fans in the wake of Fred Wilpon’s comments about the team and its best players.  And he has some decent observations about how, if you’re a Mets player, you’re not likely to be all that motivated at the moment.

But there was one passage in there that really has me scratching my head. In it, he’s talking about how Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran are best served to look out for number one right now (you know; that thing they’ve been criticized for allegedly doing for years already) because the team obviously doesn’t care about them.  The passage:

Since baseball is an individual game wrapped in a team concept, selfishness by Beltran and Reyes actually could be a good thing. I heard that with Wright and Ike Davis out of the lineup and Jason Bay still in freefall, Terry Collins actually went to Beltran recently and told the switch-hitter to get greedy in RBI situations. The Mets manager liberated Beltran to essentially become an RBI whore.

I’d be curious to hear who Sherman heard this from. Because really, I find it shocking that baseball people actually say things like “hey, get greedy in RBI situations.”  Why? Because baseball people realize that baseball is not basketball, and one does not defer to teammates in scoring situations in the interests of either strategy or team chemistry.

While bunting or situational hitting to get a runner into scoring position in the first place is understandable, if there is already a runner on second or third base (i.e. Sherman’s “RBI situations”) the hitter is always going to be “greedy” to drive him in. Indeed, I’d like to meet the player who would avoid doing such a thing and, rather, pass the RBI opportunity on to their teammate further down the order.  He’s probably a player who is suffering from some sort of mental deficit. Or at least an overdeveloped sense of purity:

“Hey, Beltran: be an RBI whore!” said Mr. Collins.

“No, I shant attempt to drive in this run. For I, good sir, am an RBI gentleman,” Mr. Beltran replied.

But whatever, if Sherman says someone told that Beltran, someone must have told that to Beltran.  And either way, the concept of the “RBI whore” has now been introduced into the baseball lexicon, and if you think for a moment that I won’t beat that baby into the ground in the morning recaps, well, you’re just not too familiar with my work.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.