Tom Ricketts: signing Pujols or Fielder is Theo’s call

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Are the Cubs really looking at Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols? Are they just trying to drive up the price for St. Louis?  Are they looking to go big or are they going to cast out every player who isn’t nailed down and start from scratch?

We’ve heard all of these things in the past few weeks. Their offseason strategy is still unclear.

But one thing is clear: it will be Theo Epstein making these decisions, not ownership.  That’s what the owner himself said yesterday when talking to the Chicago press:

“Like I’ve always said, there is one person responsible for making those decisions, and one person accountable for those results,” he said. “So if (Epstein) believes strongly that’s what’s in the best interests of the team, then he’s got my support.”

Theo Epstein’s last couple of big ticket free agent signings we less than stellar.  True, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are a different class of talent than John Lackey and Carl Crawford, but does he go to the well again?

Cardinals shut down Carlos Martínez for two weeks due to shoulder issue

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.

Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”

Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.

Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.