Did Tony La Russa pull a fast one on Dusty Baker last night?

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Tony La Russa used the weather and the rules to his advantage in last night’s 4-2 win over the Reds, moving his club back into first place in the National League Central.

La Russa scratched Kyle McClellan from his scheduled start because of the threat of inclement weather, instead sending Miguel Batista out for the first inning. He threw just six pitches before play was stopped, which resulted in a rain delay of two hours and 10 minutes. Meanwhile, Edinson Volquez warmed up as the starting pitcher for the Reds, but never entered the game. When play resumed, McClellan came out to pitch for the Cardinals while Dusty Baker was forced to use Matt Maloney.

Maloney lasted just two-plus innings, giving up three runs on eight hits, while McClellan allowed two runs over six innings for his third win of the season. Well played, La Russa.

I honestly never knew this until last night, but MLB rules state that the home team — and not the umpires — have control over whether a game starts on time. According to Matthew Leach of MLB.com, Baker said he was informed that there was a window to play the ballgame.

“It’s really a tough start,” Baker said. “The information that we received was probably not the same information they received, or else we wouldn’t have started [Volquez] in the first place. We were told there was going to be a window of opportunity there. That window lasted about three minutes.”

While it sure seems like La Russa used the situation to his advantage, don’t you think Baker could have just fired up the internet or had someone check the weather forecast before sending Volquez out to the bullpen? Wasn’t he at least a little suspicious when Batista began to warm up for the Cardinals? Just sounds like he was one-upped by his longtime rival.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.