Weird stuff happening at O.Co Coliseum? Well, I’ll be.
The Mariners and Athletics were postponed at O.Co Coliseum in Oakland last night despite nothing but blue skies. While it was an odd sight, the decision was made because the infield just wasn’t safe enough to play on. In fact, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told Greg Johns of MLB.com that it was “probably the worst conditions I’ve seen in all my years in baseball.”
The infield was in poor shape because it was not covered by a tarp during a rainstorm Thursday night into Friday morning. According to Athletics vice president of stadium operations David Rinetti, they weren’t expecting as much rain as they ended up getting and they simply failed to get the field ready in time.
“We had information last night that there was going to be a break in the storm,” Rinetti said. “And because of that, we wanted to use that opportunity to help dry out the field. Unfortunately we were wrong on the amount of rain, and we got about a third of an inch of rain last night. We did not have the tarp on the field.
“We got here this morning, the infield was under water, and we did everything possible starting at 7 a.m. to get the field ready for tonight,” he said. “Our grounds crew worked tirelessly to get the field ready, and unfortunately, after we met with the managers and the umpires, it was deemed that the field was not going to be ready to play on tonight.”
The hope is that the field will be playable by 4:05 p.m. ET this afternoon.
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.