Don’t read the Cardinals last rites just yet

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I know the Cardinals are crumbling like a cookie right now, but there is hope in store. The upcoming schedule:

Four games against the equally crumbling Dodgers;

  • Three games against the Houston LoLStros;
  • Three games against the Chicago Cubs; and
  • Three more games against the LoLStros again.

Yes, they end against the Nationals and the Reds,* but both of those teams will have long since clinched by then and should be resting starters.

The Phillies and Brewers can charge all they want, but I think the Cardinals still have a great shot.

*I originally omitted the Reds from the Cardinals schedule. I’m sure they would like to do that too, but alas, they have to play the games.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.