Cardinals sign Carlos Beltran to two-year, $26M contract

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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals agreed Thursday to a two-year, $26 million contract with free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. The deal includes a no-trade clause.

Beltran batted .300 with a .910 OPS, 22 home runs and 84 RBI in 142 games this past year between the Mets and Giants, and should help St. Louis cope somewhat with the loss of slugger Albert Pujols.

The 34-year-old Beltran will open the 2012 campaign as the Cardinals’ starting right fielder, but could slide over to center once postseason hero Allen Craig recovers from his November knee surgery. It’s a nice get for the Redbirds, who should have a plenty productive lineup if health is on their side in 2012. Here’s how the batting order might shake out on Opening Day:

SS Rafael Furcal
RF Carlos Beltran
1B Lance Berkman
LF Matt Holliday
3B David Freese
C Yadier Molina
2B Daniel Descalso
CF Jon Jay

With Adam Wainwright returning and Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook rounding out the rotation, the Cards should have no trouble staying competitive in year one without Albert.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.