Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:32 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 7:00 am
The market for Carlos Beltran is heating up, with at least five clubs and possibly more seriously talking with the free agent outfielder. Among them, according to sources: The Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals and, as CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported earlier Tuesday, the Colorado Rockies.
At least two other unidentified clubs are said to be engaged in talks with Beltran, with most of the clubs talking multi-year deals.
The Blue Jays' emergence as one of the clubs is noteworthy in that Toronto is in rebuilding mode and general manager Alex Anthopoulos has made several moves this offseason already, notably acquiring outfielder Ben Francisco from the Phillies, closer Sergio Santos from the White Sox and catcher Jeff Mathis from the Angels. The Jays are set with Colby Rasmus in center field and slugger Jose Bautista, who finished third in this year's AL MVP voting, in right field.
Colorado has been surprisingly aggressive in the free agent market this winter and made a hard run at Michael Cuddyer, who late Tuesday night appeared to be closing in on ex-Twin status with Minnesota close to a deal with Josh Willingham. Willingham's deal, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Joe Christensen, is reported to be worth three years and $21 million. While the Rockies also talked with Willingham, multiple sources say that both Cuddyer and Beltran ranked higher on Colorado's wish list than him.
Beltran, 34, makes sense for the Cardinals, who are reeling in the aftermath of losing three-time MVP Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels last week. Most likely, Lance Berkman will move to the infield and play first base for the Cardinals and, given their current scenario, Allen Craig and Matt Holliday would play the corner outfield spots and Jon Jay would play center field.
In that arrangement, however, the Cardinals wouldn't have much depth and the middle of their lineup might be thin.
Beltran batted .300 with 22 homers, 84 RBI and a .385 on-base percentage in 142 games last summer for the Mets and Giants. He has had serious knee issues in his past but came back in 2011 to produce an All-Star season.
It is not yet clear which other clubs are in on Beltran. The Giants earlier this winter all but declared themselves out of the running because they expect to cap their payroll at $130 million in 2012. General manager Brian Sabean talked like they would stay in touch with Beltran but would not extend a large offer.
Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:15 pm
DALLAS -- With the agent for Albert Pujols in town and expected to meet with both the Cardinals and Marlins today, St. Louis owner Bill DeWitt says he remains "hopeful" of re-signing Pujols and expects the situation will become far more clear by the time these meetings end Thursday.
"We're making every effort," to sign the slugger, DeWitt said Monday morning. "Obviously, we're having continuing discussions. We have a good dialog going.
DeWitt said the Cardinals have not set a deadline and indicated that they wouldn't. However, he also acknowledged the need to build their 2012 roster and move forward without waiting so long it hampers them.
"Obviously, the sooner the better for us," DeWitt said. "We're not putting a timetable on it."
With both Lance Berkman and Allen Craig returning, the Cardinals at least have some options if Pujols leaves. And multiple sources reiterated Monday that the Marlins will continue their full-court press this winter in Pujols' direction. Having already signed closer Heath Bell (that announcement is scheduled for 3:30 EDT today) and agreed to terms with Bell, the Marlins will remain aggressive
But while Berkman could shift to first base and Craig could take his outfield spot, that remains St. Louis' Plan B.
"You don't replace an Albert Pujols," DeWitt said. "Sure we have depth. But we're a far better club with Albert than without him."
The Cardinals owner would not get into specifics about what the club has offered Pujols, or even if an offer is on the table. Sources with knowledge of the talks say St. Louis has not presented an offer since the one that was on the table just before spring training that Pujols rejected.
DeWitt also would not get into specifics regarding whether the offer Pujols rejected last spring was still in play, or whether that is off the table with a new one to be presented.
"We wish we'd signed him two years ago," DeWitt said. "Or last year. But we understand the process on a player of his caliber once he reaches free agency."
The Cardinals indicated last spring that they were happy to allow Pujols delve into free agency this winter and allow the market to develop. With just the Marlins as competitors now, and with the Cubs on the periphery, they're still on that high wire.
The longer this drags out, however, there also is growing speculation regarding not only how seriously the Cardinals want him back, but how badly he wants to come back.
"I think Albert wants to be a Cardinal," DeWitt said. "I'm sure he loves the experiences he's had there. These things aren't easy when you're talking about a player of this magnitude, to reach an agreement."
Posted on: October 28, 2011 4:02 am
ST. LOUIS -- Slumping Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday left Busch Stadium following Game 6 with his right pinky finger encased in a splint and with his Game 7 status questionable.
"I should be able to play," he said.
The injury occurred when Holliday dove back into third base while getting picked off in the sixth inning. Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre "stepped right on" the finger, Holliday said, catching part of it with a spike.
"It bled a little bit," Holliday said.
And, he noted, "It's pretty swollen."
"We thought at first he had fractured it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "But I was told by the trainer later on that it's not a fracture.
"I think there's swelling, and he's got a pretty good bruise there. So it may be we need to replace him tomorrow."
Holliday said the biggest issue with it will be whether he can properly grip a bat. Already, he's been nursing tendinitis near the base of the middle finger in his right hand.
Though Holliday says that's better now than it was at season's end, and though La Russa predicted big things from him in Game 6 and/or 7, he's hitting just .158 in this World Series and was dropped from fourth to fifth in the lineup by La Russa in Game 6. Before leaving in the sixth, Holliday walked twice and reached on first baseman Michael Young's fielding error.
If Holliday cannot go in Game 7, Allen Craig likely would play left field in his place.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 7:30 pm
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- The World Series changes venues, and you know what that means: As the only sport that changes rules in its championship event, Game 3 here brings with it the designated hitter Saturday.
For the Cardinals, it's a chance to get Allen Craig into the lineup following his two RBI pinch-hits against Alexi Ogando in Games 1 and 2. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he will play Craig in right field and move veteran Lance Berkman to designated hitter.
"It really comes down to just respecting Lance," La Russa said. "He's a pivot on that, and talking to him, I think we'll play Allen in right field and Lance will DH and we'll go day-to-day with it."
Rangers manager Ron Washington did not publicly reveal his plans because, as he said, "we just arrived at the ballpark and I haven't had a chance to tell my guys yet."
But later in the day, he told the writers who cover the Rangers that Michael Young will be his DH, Mike Napoli will play first base and Yorvit Torrealba will catch.