Aroldis Chapman Getty

The woman tied up in Aroldis Chapman’s room can’t keep her story straight

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I think everyone called this one as soon as we heard it: the woman who was found tied up in Aroldis Chapman’s hotel room is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg. The Pittsburgh Gazette has details from her police interrogation:

Pittsburgh detectives questioned a woman for nearly 12 hours about a bizarre robbery in the Downtown hotel room of a Cincinnati Reds pitcher, in part because she changed her story.

Claudia Manrique, 26, of Silver Spring, Md., initially said she was attacked late Tuesday by a stranger posing as a maintenance man at the Omni William Penn who tied her up and made off with valuables belonging to pitcher Aroldis Chapman.

But as interviews with detectives wore on, she told them she had encountered her assailant earlier at a CVS pharmacy, where he stole her wallet and threatened to harm her friend if she did not tell him in which room she and the Cuban ballplayer were staying, according to police reports.

It goes on to talk about how Chapman had a bag with $200,000 in jewelry in the room that — somehow — wasn’t stolen. And how the woman was getting calls in the hotel room from someone she owned money to in Maryland who helped her get into the country, according to Chapman.

Yesterday I went with Lebowski, but this is starting to have a “second season of The Wire” vibe.  Maybe this woman gets charged. Or maybe they should keep an eye on her in the event some weird European dude sipping coffee all day decides to have her disappeared or something.

Either way: kinda scary and crazy.

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

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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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.