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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.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.