Marlins to meet with Albert Pujols “within the next few days”

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Finally, some news to pass along concerning this offseason’s top free agent: Albert Pujols.

According to MLB.com’s Matthew Leach, the 31-year-old first baseman is scheduled to meet with Marlins officials in Miami “within the next few days.”

The meeting will probably be similar to the one that free agent shortstop Jose Reyes took part in earlier this week. He was given a tour of the Marlins’ nearly-finished ballpark in Little Havana and treated to a meal at the famous Joe’s Stone Crab.

Pujols has registered a .328/.420/.617 career batting line through his first 11 major league seasons and is already considered one of the greatest right-handed hitters in baseball history. He’s likely to command a free agent contract worth north of $200 million.

The Cardinals want Albert back badly and are considered by many to be the current favorite for his services, but they’re going to have some competition this winter and the Fish might represent a real threat.

It’s not known if the St. Louis front office has had contact with Pujols since the World Series parade.

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.