Cardinals have “intensified talks” with Carlos Beltran

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Cleveland’s actual level of interest in Carlos Beltran is unclear, but there’s no doubt that St. Louis is legitimately making a strong run at the free agent outfielder.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch the Cardinals have “intensified their talks” with Beltran and are likely offering him at least a two-year contract.

Several reports have suggested that Beltran will make a decision on his new home by the end of this week, so presumably the Cardinals have put their interest in Coco Crisp on hold until then.

No one can replace Albert Pujols’ production, particularly since the Cardinals have made it clear that they aren’t interested in Prince Fielder, but if healthy and available for a two-year commitment Beltran might be the best all-around value still on the market. He hit .300 with 22 homers and a .910 OPS in 142 games for the Mets and Giants this past season, marking the fifth time in six years he’s topped an .875 OPS.

Braves designate Josh Collmenter for assignment

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Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.

Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.

Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.

Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.

Wanna feel old? Dusty Baker’s son Darren is graduating from high school

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Remember Darren Baker, the son of Nats manager Dusty Baker? If you do, it’s because you remember him as a three-year-old bat boy for the San Francisco Giants who, during Game 5 of the 2002 World Series, was almost run over at home plate only to be saved by Giants first baseman J.T. Snow. Simple math makes it obvious that the kid is now 18, but it still feels weird that so much time has passed.

Now Darren is graduating from Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California, so father Dusty will miss the Washington Nationals weekend series against the San Diego Padres to attend the ceremonies and festivities. Baker will rejoin Washington when they begin a three-game series in San Francisco on Monday. In the meantime, bench coach Chris Speier will assume managerial duties.

Time flies, man.