St. Louis Cardinals' Freese watches his game winning home run with Texas Rangers relief pitcher Lowe during the 11th inning in Game 6 of MLB's World Series baseball championship in St. Louis

And now, the top 20 jerseys sold

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MLB and the MLBPA just released the list of the top 20 jerseys sold in the past year. The list contains the usual gang you’d expect. Except I was somewhat surprised at David Freese at number 20, but I guess that World Series homer was quite the moment for Cards fans. Anyway:

1.    Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
2.    Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies
3.    Albert Pujols, LA Angels of Anaheim
4.    Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
5.    Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies
6.    Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
7.    Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
8.    Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
9.    Hunter Pence, Philadelphia Phillies
10.  Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
11.  Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
12.  Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
13.  Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
14.  Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox
15.  Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
16.  Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
17.  Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
18.  Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
19.  Carl Crawford, Boston Red Sox
20.  David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals

Cano, Crawford, Freese, Gonzalez, Pence, Rivera and Verlander are new to the top 20. Kind of shocked about Rivera, but there you go.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.