So when is the A-Rod decision coming out anyway?


Joel Sherman of the Post thinks he has an idea: either January 3 or January 13. Why?

Here is why: The Hall of Fame announcement is Wednesday, Jan. 8 and both the Commissioners Office and the Players Association would probably ask Horowitz to be respectful not to overwhelm such a special moment with a Rodriguez announcement.

So he figures that either going before that — on the third — or safely after — on the 13th — would give the Hall of Fame announcement the wide berth it deserves.

Which, eh, not buying that that is a concern for anyone.  For one thing, MLB is not in control of the arbitrator’s calendar. They’re just as much at the mercy of his schedule as A-Rod’s team is. And I’m having a hard time featuring Horowitz caring too particularly much about MLB’s P.R. needs. Given that he can be fired by either side for any reason, he has no real option but to be his own man. If is seen to be leaning to help one side, the other is going to fire him.

But let’s say that MLB and the arbitrator are on the same page, P.R.-wise. Remember last summer how the first wave of announced suspensions came right before Hall of Fame induction weekend? Selig LOVED that because it gave him a victory lap moment up in Cooperstown with copious quotes from ex-major leaguers about how the game was being cleaned up and all of that stuff. You don’t think Bud Selig would love to have Frank Thomas or someone available to compare and contrast himself to A-Rod in early January? You bet your bippy he would. I think MLB would be just fine being able to pair up the announcement of A-Rod’s suspension and the election of some widely-perceived-to-be-clean Hall of Famers.

Of course, if the decision is to overturn A-Rod’s suspension, well, that would be hilarious.

Maybe that’s when the decision comes out. Maybe it isn’t. But I don’t think that reading the tea leaves like Sherman is here is all that useful of an exercise.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.