Cardinals attendance is down close to 3,000 a game

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The fact that the Cardinals remain a top-5 attendance team in one of baseball’s smallest market is a testament to the fan loyalty they’ve cultivated.  But things are a tad off this year: Rick Hummel reports that the Cardinals are down 2,843 fans a game.  No big worries given that they’ll still be over three million, but it’s worth noting I suppose.

And really, my excuse for posting this is really to make people go read the discussion about it over at Baseball Think Factory.  Based on an early comment the conversation moves to trying to identify which cities, if any, are unequivocal baseball towns as opposed to football towns or towns of other sports.

The verdict so far: only St. Louis, New York and Boston are baseball towns, and down the thread some people make the argument that even New York can’t claim that as clearly as you’d think. It’s more a town for winners — making it an all-sports town — than just baseball.  It’s just that baseball has been where the winning has been.

It certainly applies to St. Louis, though.  Not sure that it applies in many other places, if at all.  Even the worst football teams seem to capture more municipal fascination than do good baseball teams, almost everywhere.

Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.