UPDATE: Angels, mystery team make run at Albert Pujols

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2:30 a.m. EST update: ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that no decision from Pujols will come in before the Winter Meetings conclude Thursday. Again, if you missed it, Pujols is believed to be deciding on similar 10-year offers from the Angels and Cardinals, as well as a possible offer from a mystery team (perhaps the Cubs). The Angels and Cardinals are both believed to be in the $200 million-$220 million range.

12:27 a.m. EST update: According to Nightengale, the Angels made a 10-year offer to Pujols on Wednesday worth more than $210 million.

10:50 p.m. EST update: Rosenthal says he can’t confirm that the Cubs are the third team in with the Cardinals and Angels. The Cards are quiet, with GM John Mozeliak saying he has “nothing to share” and declining comment on all topics.

10:40 p.m. EST update: There was a lot of truth to Bob Nightengale’s report, apparently. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal and Yahoo’s Tim Brown are reporting that the Angels are “in strong” on Pujols.

Rosenthal says there’s also a third unidentified club in the mix with the Cardinals and Angels. Since he doesn’t name the Cubs, it’s possible there’s another suitor.

7:20 p.m. EST update: Jon Heyman is feeling feisty tonight. He says that Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, “might have to come up with a new ‘mystery’ team to use against the Cardinals” if C.J. Wilson signs with the Angels as expected.

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Even though the Marlins pulled their 10-year proposal after being told they were out of the mix, Albert Pujols still has three offers worth $200 million or more on the table, USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale reports.

It contradicts a lot of the info that’s out there, but given that Nightengale has been on top of the Pujols saga since the first baseman and the Cardinals were negotiating last winter, his report is not to be taken lightly.

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick is also reporting that Pujols is negotiating with clubs other than the Cardinals. And he did use the plural, so he doesn’t just mean the Cubs.

The consensus is that Pujols will return to the Cardinals, with Bill Madden reporting earlier that the two sides were merely “a few million dollars apart” on a 10-year contract. The general belief is that they’re offering $20 million-$22 million per year in their proposal. The Cubs may well be in the $25 million-$30 million range, but they weren’t wanting to commit for longer than five or six years.

If there’s a third big offer out there, it might have come from the Angels or Rangers. That’s just speculation, though.

Ron Darling rips Mets trainers after yet another player goes down with an injury

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Last night starter Robert Gsellman became the latest Mets player to go down with an injury when he strained his hamstring while running out a ground ball. He’s certain to go on the disabled list, making him the sixth Mets starter to go down this year. He’ll join Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares, Neil Walker, Matt Harvey, David Wright, Jeurys Familia and many, many other Mets on the DL.

Mets broadcaster Ron Darling is fed up with it. Last night, after Gsellman went down, he went off on the Mets trainers, who he believes to be enabling all of this:

“[These] trainers, get them in a room with some of the old trainers and people that took care of baseball players and how to keep them healthy. And get them in a room and try to tap into their knowledge on how you train baseball players — not weightlifters, not six-pack wearers — baseball players. They’re doing a disservice to their million-dollar athletes that they’re paying. It’s a joke to watch this happen each and every night.”

Here’s video of his rant:

Darling is certainly tapping into a frustration a lot of Mets fans feel. For years the Mets injury issues have vexed the fanbase, less so for the sheer number of them — other teams have had more DL trips for their players — than for the manner in which they were handled and/or discussed by the team. They’ve often been loathe to use the disabled list even when it makes sense to and have, at times, run guys out to play despite there being serious red flags which would counsel most teams from doing so.

But is he right about why the players are getting injured? It’s a commonly held bit of conventional wisdom that players using weight training and being muscular makes them more brittle, but I’m unaware of any science that backs that up (if you have some, please pass it along, I’d genuinely be interested in reading it). Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t, but Darling seems so certain about it.

He could be right. But I also suspect that Darling may be falling prey to some back-in-my-dayism that retired players often exhibit. Are players getting injured more or are they merely being diagnosed better? Are they getting more seriously injured, or are they just taken out of action more quickly rather than be left to play through injuries like so many old timers have claimed they had to back in the 50s, 60s and 70s? Fireballers used to try to hang on as junkballers after suffering elbow injuries that today would send a guy to surgery. There was a much greater tolerance for lumbering slow dudes who might take it easy with a bad hammy as opposed to getting shut down now.

None of which is to say that Darling is wrong, necessarily. Like I said, maybe there is something to the idea that weight training and musculature makes a player more brittle. But I am always loathe to nod along with an old player who says the science and medicine surrounding sports has regressed compared to where it was back in his day. It may be true, but it’s counterintuitive given how science and medicine usually work. And when you offer a counterintuitive take like that, I think you need more evidence than your frustration at an injury occurring in front of you in real time.

Bryce Harper is pretty clearly messing with people

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Not too long ago some rumors popped up about Bryce Harper wanting to sign with the Cubs when he hits free agency following the 2018 season. Such rumors are sort of silly this far out — and they almost always tend to be non-predictive of where the player eventually goes — but they tend to get folks excited or concerned, depending on who they root for.

With the Cubs in town to face the Nationals, Harper was asked about those rumors again. He wisely dismissed them, saying he had no idea where that stuff comes from. Which is what someone in his position should say.

Not that he’s not going to have some fun with it. Check out his Instagram post with friend Kris Bryant. Specifically, check out the hashtag:

#Back2BackOneDay is, of course, an implication that he’d be hitting behind Bryant in the same batting order.

Harper is no idiot. He’s not going to use social media, in the middle of a season, two seasons before he could even potentially play elsewhere, to send genuine signals about wanting to leave the Nationals and join the Cubs. He’s just messing with the rumormongers. As he TOTALLY SHOULD by the way, because rumormongers deserve to be messed with.

Not that the rumormongers won’t take this a genuine evidence of his intent. The rumormongers aren’t big on subtle humor.