. . . I feel like Plaschke’s response to it all is a bit overwrought:
A white Mercedes allegedly traveling 110 mph has flattened the Dodgers with the organization’s most frightening, frustrating truth.
The richest team in baseball cannot buy the safety, security or even the simple undivided attention of its most popular player.
Yasiel Puig continues to careen toward calamity and there doesn’t seem to be anything anybody can, or will, do about it.
I don’t disagree with the notion that Puig needs to slow it the heck down and if I’m running the Dodgers I have a heart-to-heart with him about making smart decisions. But the Dodgers don’t sound “flattened” based on their response. Their response seems to be pretty level-headed: In essence “a young kid is driving too fast and he needs to cut it out. We can’t babysit him 24/7. He needs to make some grownup decisions.” Sounds about right to me.
Plashcke paints this as far more dire than it is, however, and it’s hard not to see this as his continuing hyper-criticism of and alarmism regarding Puig. If it’s not, tell me what this paragraph is doing in there:
Puig batted just .214 in the season’s final month. Then, after playing well in the National League division series win against the Atlanta Braves, he collapsed in the NL Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, batting just .227 with one extra base hit while committing three fielding blunders in the Cardinals’ clinching Game 6 victory.
It has no logical flow to the argument that he’s making at the time. Indeed, the argument — all about Puig’s maturity — flows far better without that in there. But he has to get a shot in. He has to imply, however subtly, that Puig’s off-the-field demeanor is dictating his on-the-field performance. He has to try to find a way to add heft to his criticisms of Puig, lest they appear to be mere hand-wringing.
Again: Puig is being an idiot at the wheel and he needs to not do crap that risks his health and life. But a lead foot is not worthy of a full-blown character indictment and is certainly not something that feeds into his baseball ability the way Plaschke would have you think it is.
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.