The Diamondbacks are a punchline.
GM Kevin Towers wants his eye-for-an-eye, and he has his like-minded henchman in the dugout in Kirk Gibson. Both wish for the Diamondbacks to be the league’s most intimidating team, a group of gritty, do-anything-it-takes-to-win outlaws. When it comes to the roster, talent has taken a backseat to simply fitting the mold.
But it hasn’t worked. Not at all. After consecutive .500 seasons, the Diamondbacks are 48-63 this year. The future seems even more bleak. They’re not a young club now, and they’ve traded a number of prospects for veterans the last two years.
On Saturday, the Diamondbacks flat-out embarrassed themselves. Because of their mentality, it was a given that they’d seek revenge after Paul Goldschmidt suffered a broken finger when he was hit by a pitch during Friday’s game. There was nothing intentional about that pitch, something Goldschmidt himself acknowledged. But the Diamondbacks were going to drill Andrew McCutchen last night regardless.
No, what was pathetic about the whole incident was that the Diamondbacks did nothing the first three times McCutchen was up. They waited until they were down 5-1 in the ninth, then they had Randall Delgado throw a 95-mph fastball at the small of McCutchen’s back. A little higher, and a team with no postseason aspirations might have had a huge effect on a team aiming to play in October.
It was a true act of cowardice from baseball’s most ludicrous tough guys.
MLB will suspend Delgado for the incident, but what it really needs to do is go after the director. Delgado was following orders. Gibson orchestrated things. An uncommonly long suspension would serve him right.
But the Diamondbacks… they need to clean house and move on. New team president Tony La Russa should get rid of both Gibson and Towers, not because of Saturday’s incident, but simply because it’s long overdue.
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.