Bob Brenly, eat your heart out.
Aramis Ramirez, already with a two-run double on the day, played the hero in a wild game Tuesday, hitting a two-run homer off Heath Bell with two outs in the bottom of the 10th to give the Brewers a 13-12 win over the Marlins.
The victory would have been huge for the Marlins’ morale, having overcome a 9-2 deficit with nine runs in the seventh and eighth innings. They took a 12-11 lead when Jose Reyes homered off Livan Hernandez in the 10th, but Bell couldn’t hold it. He was charged with his fifth blown save and fourth loss in the game.
Hernandez, incidently, picked up his 176th career win. One wonders if it might not be his last, given his struggles in mop-up roles for the Braves and Brewers this year. He’s allowed runs in three of his four appearances since signing with Milwaukee.
Bell seemed to have his problems ironed out a couple of weeks ago, but today’s outing follows on the heels of a June 25 appearance in which he blew a four-run lead. Technically, it wasn’t a blown save — he hadn’t had one of those since May 5 — but it was a disastrous performance in what ended up being a Marlins loss.
Even with that one on the books, though, he entered today with 13 scoreless outings in his previous 14 appearances, suggesting that he’ll continue to hold down the closer’s role for the Marlins.
The win for the Brewers was their fourth in a row, giving them a 38-42 record. As weak as the NL Central is, they can’t be counted out just yet. It looks like Zack Greinke will be staying put at least a little longer.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
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.