Ken Davidoff of the New York Post ponders whether or not Will Middlebrooks will become a goat after last night’s obstruction play. The headline — which I’m certain Davidoff did not write:
Davidoff himself does not believe that Middlebrooks should not be a goat, saying “Middlebrooks “faces a future in which he might known be known best as the obstruction guy,” but notes that “it would represent a cruel fate.”
I couldn’t agree more. Middlebrooks has nothing to be ashamed of.
It would’ve been close to impossible for Middlebrooks to not have obstructed Craig. It was a totally s**t-happens situation. Maybe he could’ve knocked the throw down, keeping it from getting by him and causing Craig to stay at third, but that’s not what those who would make him a goat are likely to be on about. They’re going to talk about the obstruction itself. And as far as that goes, the rule has no intent element to it for a reason. Middlebrooks can not be said to have screwed up that part of it because he could not have possibly gotten out of the way. And thus Middlebrooks should not be said to have messed up in any legacy-defining way.
If there is blame here, it can go to Farrell for not having his best defensive catcher in the game there. Or it can go to Saltilamacchia for throwing a ball he’d be better served putting in his back pocket. That kind of blame happens a lot, though. It’s run of the mill, “oof, bad move” stuff we see hundreds of times a year. It’s not Bill Buckner stuff.
But if people are looking for Buckner stuff — if they decide that Will Middlebrooks is some epic level goat here — it says way more about those people and human nature’s almost pathological need to assign blame than it says about Middlebrooks’ actions. In that case it should be between those people and their therapists, not Middlebrooks and the judgment of history.
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.