Here are the lineups for Game 1 of the Rangers-Cardinals series tonight:
TEXAS RANGERS ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B 1. Rafael Furcal, SS
2. Elvis Andrus, SS 2. Jon Jay, CF
3. Josh Hamilton, CF 3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Michael Young, 1B 4. Matt Holliday, LF
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B 5. Lance Berkman, RF
6. Nelson Cruz, RF 6. David Freese, 3B
7. Mike Napoli, C 7. Yadier Molina, C
8. David Murphy, LF 8. Nick Punto, 2B
SP C.J. Wilson, LHP SP Chris Carpenter, RHP
Ron Washington talked about possibly moving Nelson Cruz up in the batting order after the right fielder slugged six homers in the ALCS and sure enough Cruz is hitting sixth tonight rather than his usual seventh. Mike Napoli moves down to accommodate Cruz, which means the catcher’s team-high 1.046 OPS will be in the No. 7 spot. Without the designated hitter to work with Washington has benched Mitch Moreland and has Michael Young at first base.
St. Louis’ lineup is quite different than the last time they faced a left-hander (Randy Wolf in Game 4 of the NLCS). Jon Jay was moved to the bottom of the lineup in that game, but tonight he remains in the No. 2 spot. And manager Tony La Russa is going with Nick Punto rather than Ryan Theriot (or a now healthy Skip Schumaker) at second base. Lance Berkman has typically been much worse versus lefties, but he’s starting and batting fifth while Allen Craig comes off the bench.
OXON HILL, MD — Edwin Encarnacion began the offseason as, arguably, the second most desirable free agent on the market. As the Winter Meetings approach their end, however, he is a man without a team. And may not have a team any time soon.
Many teams have been rumored to be checking in on Encarnacion, but the defining trait of his free agency thus far has been clubs taking a pass. The most recent one being the Rangers, who are reported to simply not have the money to sign him, despite him filling a clear offensive need in Texas. Maybe the Rangers would be more competitive on the free agent market if they had a new stadium. Who knows?
The Blue Jays, for whom he most recently played, offered him a four-year, $80 million deal that most figured was a lowball, and when he rejected it, they moved on to Kendrys Morales. The Red Sox acquired Mitch Moreland. The Yankees are reported to be passing. The most recent team linked to Encarnacion is the Indians, who are reported to have an offer out to him, but at this point it’s likely far lower than what most free agent watchers thought he might get a few weeks ago. A four-year, $90 million deal did not seem crazy for him in October. In December, there is speculation that he could be had for $60 million over that same term which, frankly, would be a bargain. That’s less than Mark Melancon, the third best closer on the market, got from the Giants.
There have been a lot of remarkable things that have happened in the past few weeks, but one of the most unexpected things would be one of the top bats in the game getting second-tier closer money.
OXON HILL, MD — Bill King has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
King, one of the iconic voices of Bay Area sports, was known for his handlebar mustache and his signature “Holy Toledo!” exclamation. King broadcast A’s games for 25 seasons, from 1981 through 2005. He likewise broadcast Oakland Raiders and Golden State Warriors games and got his start as an announcer for the Giants in the late 1950s after they moved to San Francisco.
King passed away in October 2005. With the Frick Award, however, he has now been immortalized among baseball broadcasters.