A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett loses no-hitter in eighth

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11:00 p.m. EDT update: Burnett retired the side in order in the ninth to finish a one-hit shutout of the Cubs. It was his first shutout since 2006, his first year with the Blue Jays, but his 10th overall. He moved to 13-3 with a 3.27 ERA for the season.

10:39 p.m. EDT update: Burnett lost the no-hitter on an Adrian Cardenas single with two outs in the eighth.

Burnett previously hit Darwin Barney in the helmet with a pitch in the eighth, forcing Barney from the game. It was a breaking ball, though, and it actually was only rib-high, except Barney had the misfortune of ducking right into it.

Despite the little bout with wildness, Burnett easily could have gone into the ninth with the no-no intact. He threw a 2-2 curve to Cardenas that looked like a strike on the outside corner, but it was called a ball with the catcher having been set up inside. Cardenas lined the next pitch to right field.

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With one no-hitter already under his belt, the Pirates’ A.J. Burnett is now six outs away from No. 2. He retired the Cubs on six pitches in the seventh and is at just 74 pitches after seven innings.

It’d be a sharp contrast from Burnett’s previous no-hitter against the Padres on May 12, 2001. Pitching for the Marlins, he walked nine batters that night and threw 129 pitches against a lineup that included Rickey Henderson, Ryan Klesko and Dave Magadan (hitting cleanup!). Burnett has walked just two batters tonight.

If Burnett can get it done, it’d be the first time the Cubs have been no-hit in 47 years.

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.