UPDATE: Albert Pujols’ trainer has denied Clark’s allegations to NBC Sports.com.
10:00 AM: Jack Clark, who once accused the Cardinals of being “quitters” and having “poopy in their pants” — yes, he actually said that — has a new accusation: Albert Pujols: PED user:
He was known as “Jack the Ripper” during his playing days because of his power hitting, and Jack Clark has come out swinging hard in his new sports-radio position. He has accused former Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols of using a performance enhancing drug.
Go read Dan Caesar’s column for the details, but the upshot is Clark saying “I know for a fact” that Pujols took PEDs because the trainer who used to work out with Pujols in Kansas City during the offseason “basically told me that’s what he did.”
The trainer, Chris Mihlfeld, was in the news several years ago when it was erroneously reported that he and Pujols appeared in an affidavit with information supplied by Jason Grimsley, who had been busted for PEDs. That turned out to not be the case.
As for these allegations? On the one hand they are, by definition, hearsay. And Clark’s later swipes at Justin Verlander and Shawn Green are pure b.s. which undermine him (he says Green had back acne and erroneously states that Verlander used to throw much harder than he does now). That said, hearsay gets a bad rap, but it isn’t nothing. And if we have learned anything in the past few years it’s that not all credible accusations of PED use are made by reputable and noble sources. Clark could be full of it. He also could be right.
Either way, Clark works in talk radio now and between this and his past comments doing broadcast work it is clear that he is one who likes to drop bombs and get attention. I presume he will be getting a lot more now.
The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.
In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.
The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report:
Catcher Welington Castillo was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks on Friday, making him one of 35 additional players to enter the free agent pool. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Castillo was drawing interest from the Rays, among a bevy of major league clubs, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien added that the Braves have “some interest” as well.
The Rays’ trifecta of catchers — Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Bobby Wilson — did little to inspire confidence behind the plate in 2016, and with top free agent Wilson Ramos sidelined after suffering a torn ACL in September, it makes sense that they’d explore more affordable options. Castillo profiled well at the plate during his first full season with the Diamondbacks, slashing .264/.322/.423 with 14 home runs in 457 PA. Behind the dish, he placed third among all qualified major league catchers with seven DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), though his league-leading 10 passed balls weren’t anything to write home about.
Unlike the Rays, the Braves have a serviceable catching platoon in Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker. Beyond that, their catching depth is fairly shallow despite the recent addition of former Mariners’ outfield prospect Alex Jackson. Jackson, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, has not played behind the plate since high school, though GM John Coppolella is reportedly interested in trying him there again. A.J. Pierzynski is also rumored to be seeking a deal elsewhere in free agency, which could open the door for a multi-year deal with Castillo.