Tag:C.J. Wilson
Posted on: March 7, 2012 7:06 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 7:17 pm
 

Yu the man in Rangers debut

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Quick glimpse, small sample. Two innings, first impression:

Yu Darvish's Japanese legacy and World Baseball Classic dominance looked for one day Wednesday like they will translate beautifully into the major leagues.

Or, if you prefer, you could take it beyond one spring outing.

"They're going back to the postseason," Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson said of a Rangers team with Darvish in their rotation. "That's a no-brainer."

Darvish surrendered two hits -- doubles to Hudson and Will Venable -- no runs and whiffed three Padres in Texas' 6-3 Cactus League win on a cold, windy Arizona afternoon.

He rose to the occasion when needed, handcuffing the Padres to 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position. He backed off when the situation suggested, getting Carlos Quentin to swing out of his spikes with a 79 m.p.h. curve to end the first.

He threw first-pitch strikes to seven of eight batters faced, including each of the first six major league hitters he saw. He got nine swing-and-misses, and threw 26 strikes and just 10 balls.

He does not dawdle like Daisuke Matsuzaka, and he does not nibble like C.J. Wilson. He comes right at hitters, and he's got the stuff to do it.

"He's got some deception and he's got some velocity," Texas' Michael Young said. "If he commands the heater, he's going to get outs."

Scouts said he threw six different pitches: Two variations of his fastball, two types of curveballs, a slider and a change-up. Texas catcher Yorvit Torrealba says he throws seven pitches. In a game in which everything plays off of the fastball and changing speeds, though, who really can count?

"At one point, I was thinking about taking my glove off and using two hands" to flash signals while calling pitches, Torrealba joked.

With a fastball that hit 95 and an even slower curve than the one Quentin saw, clocked at 67 m.p.h. to Will Venable, Darvish possesses an exceptional ability to keep hitters off-balance. His fastball ranged from 92 to 95 m.p.h.

Though Hudson yanked a double between Young and second baseman Ian Kinsler in the first, it was Venable's booming double in the second that was the attention-getter. Venable blasted a 2 and 2 fastball some 420 feet off of the batter's eye in dead center.

Not only was it the hardest-hit ball against Darvish, the moment also later provided some pretty good insight into just how stubborn, determined and proud Darvish is.

"The dry air in Arizona and the wind blowing out carried the ball pretty far," Darvish said through an interpreter. "To me, it didn't seem that it was hit very squarely."

To which, a couple of Padres called bull. Mark Kotsay chortled that during his 16 years in the majors, he hasn't seen a ball blasted 400-and-some feet high off of a "50-foot wall" that wasn't exactly, um, smoked.

"Maybe his perception of reality isn't as right on as ... I don't know," Venable said. "No comment."

Translation: Yes, Venable thought, he not only squared that fastball up, he CRUSHED it.

So file that one away. If Darvish is as dismissive of other hitters who take a bite out of him as he was of Venable, well, some awfully entertaining rivalries are about to be born. Or, a bit of a humbling process is about to begin.

Mostly, Darvish said, he was happy to get his first Cactus League start out of the way. He said his teammates teased him a little about being nervous before the game, and "I told them, no, I'm not." He was very happy with the way his secondary pitches were working, though he acknowledged that throwing into the teeth of a strong wind aids the movement of his pitches.

He opened some eyes with two impressive defensive plays, showing some quickness while covering first base on one play and leaping high to grab a high chopper up the middle. He threw home, and Torrealba tagged the runner coming in from third.

Defense-loving Texas manager Ron Washington said those plays were the most impressive things he saw the 6-5 Darvish do.

"That's a big Asian dude," Hudson said. "What's that guy who played basketball for the Rockets? Yao Ming? I looked at him and thought, that dude is big. ...

"Watching him on TV I thought, he's big. Then when I saw him, I thought he's not as big as I thought. Then I got to the plate and I thought, damn."

Hudson had no qualms about admitting his excitement to face Darvish. He said he even had trouble sleeping Tuesday night.

Interestingly, the Rangers picked up on Hudson's eagerness.

"I thought Hudson grinded out his at-bat," pitching coach Mike Maddux said of Hudson's first-inning double. "It looked like one of those emotional at-bats where it's like, 'I'm going to show this guy.'"

Bingo.

One other impression: Darvish worked both innings entirely from the stretch, not the wind-up. Even with nobody on base. He works both ways randomly, he said.

Maddux said he was given two DVDs, one from a game last July in which Darvish worked from the stretch, another from a game last October in which he worked entirely from the windup.

"The biggest pitches you make come from the stretch," Maddux said. "If you want to hone that craft, by all means, I'm all for it."

Hone it Darvish did, as his homeland studied through a microscope. Four different networks beamed Darvish's two innings back to Japan live, according to Rangers' PR guru John Blake. ESPN News showed the first four hitters live. Some 150 media members packed the press box in what had to be some sort of Cactus League record.

Yeah, you could see why Darvish and the Rangers were just as happy to get this one behind them.

As the Padres' Hudson said, that's a whole lot on the back of a 25-year-old who is moving to a new country to change jobs, no matter how talented he is. First time you surrender a home run, everyone wants to know what happened. First time you get knocked out of the box after three innings, everyone demands explanations.

Of course, that all comes with $111.7 million -- the $60 mil the Rangers are paying Darvish, and the $51.7 mil posting fee.

"Ichiro kind of set the bar high getting 900 hits a year," Hudson said. "[Darvish] has got to go win a Cy Young."



Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:58 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 7:25 pm
 

Pujols: "That was fun"

PHOENIX -- Maybe Albert Pujols knew there was a designated hitter in the American League. But did anyone tell him you get to bat every inning in the Junior Circuit?

Forgive him if he begins to think that's the case after his first Cactus League game. He christened the Angels' portion of his career with a 2 for 3 afternoon against the beleaguered Athletics, including saying hello with an RBI double in the first.

"That was fun," Pujols said after being removed from the game in the fourth with the Angels leading 9-0. "Hopefully, we get to do a lot of that this year."

The Angels' two high-priced free agents each debuted on an overcast Monday afternoon. C.J. Wilson, who signed a five-year, $77.5 million deal during the offseason, worked two scoreless innings, facing eight batters.

Pujols chopped a hanging curve for the double in the first against Oakland starter Brad Peacock, scorched a line single to left in the second and flied to right in the third. He saw nine pitches.

"He comes up in the first inning and knocks in a runner," Wilson said of Pujols. "We all were looking at each other in the dugout like, 'Oh yeah. That's what Albert does.'"

Pujols admitted to some pre-game jitters. He said in a typical season, he gets nervous three times: Before his first spring training at-bat, before his first regular-season at-bat and before his first postseason at-bat.

That last part is what the Angels are banking on: Pujols' Cardinals only missed the playoffs four times during his 11 seasons in St. Louis. Anything short of a run deep into October -- and, arguably, a World Series title -- will be a disappointment for the 2012 Angels.

Pujols, who signed a 10-year, $254 million deal with the Angels last winter, easily has been the focal point of the Angels during their first two weeks of camp. Not just from the fans' perspective, but from inside the clubhouse as well.

"It's cool, man," right fielder Torii Hunter said. "Pujols has been blending in just fine. Vernon Wells and I hit with him, and we're picking up a lot."

One thing that has impressed them early is that Pujols is as interested as learning from his new teammates as they are from him.

"He's not afraid to ask questions," Hunter said. "A guy like that, who has achieved so much, you'd think pride would set in and he wouldn't ask anybody for any advice. But he does. He's that humble.

"He has two World Series rings, three MVPs and he still wants to learn. I love that."

One thing Angels manager Mike Scioscia has learned about Pujols through various conversations up to and early in spring training is, Pujols likes to work in the spring, especially early.

"He historically feels like he wants his at-bats on the higher side in the spring rather than on the lower side," Scioscia said.

Pujols finished with 65 plate appearances last spring with the Cardinals (.288, three homers and 14 RBI). Look for a similar workload this spring (though for a time it appeared as if he might reach that total on Monday alone).

As for Wilson, he tinkered with his mechanics over the winter and is looking to incorporate a changeup as an important weapon this summer.

"For me, the changeup is a priority," said Wilson, who faced eight batters, walking one. "So I can add efficiency to my repertoire."

Though he worked a career-high 223 1/3 innings last season, he essentially was out of gas in October.

He figures if he can throw fewer pitches -- "you're looking at one more out a game, one less walk, one more ground ball" -- both he and the Angels will benefit.

The focus on that will come in time. But for now, the Angels remain giddy over the one-time St. Louis icon joining them. And for his part, Pujols senses the respect from even veterans like Hunter and Wells.

"It's what you have built," Pujols said. "It's something I learned in St. Louis 11 years ago. I had great teammates, and I took advantage of the veteran guys."

He ticked off a whole flurry of names, including Woody Williams, Matt Morris, Placido Polanco and Mark McGwire.

"They taught me how to play the game the right way."


Posted on: January 18, 2012 5:35 pm
 

Yu Darvish, Texas Ranger

That the Rangers got the Yu Darvish deal done is no surprise.

Neither is it a surprise that the talks pretty much extended all the way to Tuesday's 5 p.m. EDT deadline.

Now ... will it be a surprise if Darvish immediately becomes the Rangers' ace?

Hmmm. ...

The airspace from Japan to the major leagues has been turbulent for pitchers, but so many scouts say Darvish is no Daisuke Matsuzaka or Hideki Irabu (or Kei Igawa). Across the board, that's a good thing for Texas.

Most importantly, the Rangers themselves are betting that there will be no surprises, that Darvish is ace material. They got exactly what they wanted in essentially exchanging Darvish for C.J. Wilson, and they got exactly what they wanted in getting it done with a six-year deal instead of a five. (Thus keeping him out of the free agent market for an extra year).

Texas' total commitment is $111 million, given the $60 million plus the $51 million posting price, and who knows, maybe there even will be money left over for Prince Fielder. The Rangers steadfastly have downplayed that possibility, but they do have the money and the potential for a monster winter remains.

A good day overall for the Rangers, who have watched AL West rival Los Angeles sign Albert Pujols and Wilson this winter while waiting patiently to put their own plans in motion.

But despite his credentials in Japan, Darvish still comes to Texas as less of a proven commodity than, say, Cliff Lee when the Rangers acquired him at midseason in 2010. Darvish must prove that he can adjust to a longer schedule, pitching every five days, a different culture, a different baseball, the Texas heat and living away from his family. Among other things.

Wilson helped pitch the Rangers to consecutive World Series in 2010 and 2011. He worked 223 1/3 innings last year and 204 innings two summers ago. He made 77 starts over those two seasons and won 31 decisions. He was not nails in the postseason, however, and he had run his course.

There was absolutely no way the Rangers were going to re-sign him, certainly not at anything remotely close to the $77.5 million he got over five years from the Angels.

They did not like the prospect of their return on that investment, and they have not liked how the past two seasons have turned out despite the World Series appearances.

"We've had some success the last two years, but we haven't been able to close it out," general manager Jon Daniels said last month on the night it was revealed that the Rangers won the right to negotiate exclusively with Darvish. "That's our goal. Put the best possible club out there and win a championship."

That goal only gets harder, never easier, as players age and opponents adjust. The Angels have stolen all the headlines this winter and there is no question -- on paper -- they are better post-Pujols.

Baseball men who have watched Darvish pitch, both in Japan and on video, swear that he is by far the best pitcher to come out of Japan. Best stuff, strongest, most developed, most confident.

They Rangers right now have $111 million saying that's right.

As for the rest, well, across the AL West, the Angels are feeling pretty, pretty good about themselves right now. But with Darvish -- and with Fielder still free -- it would be a colossal mistake to curb your enthusiasm where the Rangers are concerned.

Posted on: December 8, 2011 6:45 pm
 

Angels' lineup will change "100%" with Pujols

Shortly after the Angels won a bidding war against the Miami Marlins and secured free agent left-hander C.J. Wilson in the early morning hours Thursday, the pitcher spoke with the general manager of his old team, the Texas Rangers, in a farewell conversation.

"Is there any way," Texas GM Jon Daniels joked, "that I can convince you to go to the Marlins?"

And that was before Albert Pujols committed to the Angels.

Yes, the landscape changed rapidly in the AL West this week and, as things go on paper in the winter-time, the Angels positioned themselves as the potential division favorites heading into 2012.

That's as of today, and who knows what happens tomorrow. The ultra-aggressive Rangers surely will answer the Angels moves -- Prince Fielder? -- and the earth could yet shift again before spring training.

"It's crazy," Wilson said. "With Albert going, there's a big swing on the balance of power in the West.

"I thought I would make a difference, but he makes a huge difference. Nobody saw that coming."

Indeed.

"I'm shocked about Anaheim swooping into it," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

As if it wasn't stunning enough that the Angels hauled in Pujols (10 years, $254 million), Wilson (five years, $77.5 million) and reliever LaTroy Hawkins (one year, $3 million) during the final 12 hours of the winter meetings, the suits in the organization say they will not look to trade anyone.

Mark Trumbo, who played first last year and will be replaced by Pujols? He's taking ground balls at third base, a position of weakness.

Kendrys Morales, who played first two years ago? Unlike last year, the Angels are proceeding with caution after a second ankle surgery caused him to miss all of 2011.

Veterans outfielders Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells and young speedsters Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout also will fit in, somewhere, somehow.

"You have the opportunity from an offensive perspective to plug one of the great hitters of all time into the middle of your lineup," Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said. "And we feel like you can never have too much depth.

"As it pertains to Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales, we still have the benefit of playing in the American League, where we have first base at-bats, we have DH at-bats, corner outfielders at-bats.

"And we've discussed as we've gone through and into this season to date, Mark Trumbo is particularly athletic for his size. The power leads you to believe first base, but he's got a little bit of history at third base and in the outfield. We know those DH bats are there.

"We are still unaware of exactly the timetable for Kendrys Morales. But if we have all three healthy and clicking on all cylinders, we're going to be in a really good position."

One of Dipoto's most important early goals is to improve an Angels' lineup that was 11th in the American League in on-base percentage last year. Pujols' career .420 OBP ranks second in the majors among active players.

"One-hundred percent he'll change our lineup," Hunter said. "The way pitchers approach us, he's one guy who can change the whole lineup. You put Pujols in any lineup, any lineup, and it will be better."

The Angels could not have stunned the baseball industry more. Word of Pujols' signing broke just before 9 a.m. local time, just as executives from every club were gathering for the annual Rule V draft.

Even inside their organization, there was a sense of disbelief.

"This is crazy," Hunter said. "I'm so excited right now it's unbelievable. I'm just happy we have this chance. We've got a legitimate chance."

Hunter was working out at the Dallas branch of the Athletes' Performance Institute with pitchers LaTroy Hawkins (who signed with the Angels on Wednesday night, less than 24 hours ahead of Pujols and C.J. Wilson), Joel Hanrahan (Pirates closer), Jamey Wright (Mariners) and several young prospects when he learned the news.

"Everyone went crazy when it came up on the phone," Hunter said. "I am trippin' right now."
Posted on: December 8, 2011 6:42 pm
 

Angels lineup will change "100%" with Pujols

Shortly after the Angels won a bidding war against the Miami Marlins and secured free agent left-hander C.J. Wilson in the early morning hours Thursday, the pitcher spoke with the general manager of his old team, the Texas Rangers, in a farewell conversation.

"Is there any way," Texas GM Jon Daniels joked, "that I can convince you to go to the Marlins?"

And that was before Albert Pujols committed to the Angels.

Yes, the landscape changed rapidly in the AL West this week and, as things go on paper in the winter-time, the Angels positioned themselves as the potential division favorites heading into 2012.

That's as of today, and who knows what happens tomorrow. The ultra-aggressive Rangers surely will answer the Angels moves -- Prince Fielder? -- and the earth could yet shift again before spring training.

"It's crazy," Wilson said. "With Albert going, there's a big swing on the balance of power in the West.

"I thought I would make a difference, but he makes a huge difference. Nobody saw that coming."

Indeed.

"I'm shocked about Anaheim swooping into it," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

As if it wasn't stunning enough that the Angels hauled in Pujols (10 years, $254 million), Wilson (five years, $77.5 million) and reliever LaTroy Hawkins (one year, $3 million) during the final 12 hours of the winter meetings, the suits in the organization say they will not look to trade anyone.

Mark Trumbo, who played first last year and will be replaced by Pujols? He's taking ground balls at third base, a position of weakness.

Kendrys Morales, who played first two years ago? Unlike last year, the Angels are proceeding with caution after a second ankle surgery caused him to miss all of 2011.

Veterans outfielders Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells and young speedsters Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout also will fit in, somewhere, somehow.

"You have the opportunity from an offensive perspective to plug one of the great hitters of all time into the middle of your lineup," Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said. "And we feel like you can never have too much depth.

"As it pertains to Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales, we still have the benefit of playing in the American League, where we have first base at-bats, we have DH at-bats, corner outfielders at-bats.

"And we've discussed as we've gone through and into this season to date, Mark Trumbo is particularly athletic for his size. The power leads you to believe first base, but he's got a little bit of history at third base and in the outfield. We know those DH bats are there.

"We are still unaware of exactly the timetable for Kendrys Morales. But if we have all three healthy and clicking on all cylinders, we're going to be in a really good position."

One of Dipoto's most important early goals is to improve an Angels' lineup that was 11th in the American League in on-base percentage last year. Pujols' career .420 OBP ranks second in the majors among active players.

"One-hundred percent he'll change our lineup," Hunter said. "The way pitchers approach us, he's one guy who can change the whole lineup. You put Pujols in any lineup, any lineup, and it will be better."

The Angels could not have stunned the baseball industry more. Word of Pujols' signing broke just before 9 a.m. local time, just as executives from every club were gathering for the annual Rule V draft.

Even inside their organization, there was a sense of disbelief.

"This is crazy," Hunter said. "I'm so excited right now it's unbelievable. I'm just happy we have this chance. We've got a legitimate chance."

Hunter was working out at the Dallas branch of the Athletes' Performance Institute with pitchers LaTroy Hawkins (who signed with the Angels on Wednesday night, less than 24 hours ahead of Pujols and C.J. Wilson), Joel Hanrahan (Pirates closer), Jamey Wright (Mariners) and several young prospects when he learned the news.

"Everyone went crazy when it came up on the phone," Hunter said. "I am trippin' right now."
Posted on: December 6, 2011 9:23 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 1:56 am
 

Marlins pushing hard on Pujols, want answer soon

DALLAS -- The Marlins spent an extraordinary amount of time Tuesday afternoon and evening wooing free agent slugger Albert Pujols and appeared to be thundering toward their finish line as darkness enveloped Dallas on a cold Tuesday night.

Whether it is also Pujols' finish line remains to be seen.

The Marlins pushed very, very hard through the night Tuesday to finish a Pujols deal with a 10-year offer, according to sources, worth in excess of $200 million. Closing in on 1 a.m. CDT, sources said the Marlins reached a point where there would be no immediate answer, and they would resume discussions with the Pujols Camp on Wednesday.

Earlier Tuesday, St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak said that the Cardinals presented the slugger with a new offer, their first since last February when Pujols rejected a reported nine-year offer worth a reported $195 million.

Meantime, USAToday's Bob Nightengale reported an unidentified team made a third offer of at least 10 years in what is becoming the most expensive bidding war in baseball history.

Sources with knowledge of the talks said that they expected the Pujols camp to let things play out a little longer.

That strategy did not mesh with what the Fish wanted Tuesday, and they may have to make a decision as a result. As owner Jeffrey Loria canceled dinner plans Tuesday to remain in the Hilton Anatole and try to knock off a deal for the iconic slugger, the Marlins remained players on free agent pitchers Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson.

Marlins officials emerged from an elevator after what appeared to have been a long meeting with Dan Lozano, Pujols' agent, shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday. But club president David Samson repeatedly told reporters, "Nothing to report."

The Marlins want an answer from Pujols sooner rather than later -- they pushed for an answer Tuesday night -- so they can move on to one of those other options if they can't get him. They also want an answer from Pujols soon because of growing concern that they are being used as leverage to jack up the Cardinals' bid.

Bottom line: The Marlins badly want Pujols, but they do now want to lose out on other free agent options if Pujols is a rigged game and it's a fait accompli that he's returning to St. Louis. Whether or not the Marlins sign Pujols, they still want to improve their starting pitching. Without Pujols, they'll look to the free agent market. If they add Pujols, they will look to trade current first baseman Gaby Sanchez for pitching.

Mozeliak did not specify the Cards' new offer to Pujols either in years or dollars. When asked by St. Louis reporters in whose court the ball is in, Mozeliak replied, "Theirs."

"I suspect [a response] is going to come quickly," Mozeliak told St. Louis reporters. "That would have to come from that camp. ... In this situation, we're participants. I don't think we're dictating anything."

The Marlins believed that their offer had to be higher than that of the Cardinals to combat what one source termed the "statue effect." Meaning, if Pujols finished his career in St. Louis, the next step will be that the club and city will erect a statue of him next to the one of Hall of Famer Stan Musial outside of Busch Stadium.

Consequently, the Marlins have put together what sources call a "creative" offer, one that is so complicated that Loria and other Marlins executives met with Dan Haslem of the Commissioner's Office late Tuesday afternoon to review parts of it and, apparently, make sure it is in line with baseball rules and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

"Jeffrey is an art dealer. He's accustomed to obtaining special works of art," one National League executive said Tuesday night. "Maybe this is another special work of art."

Surely, they would tell you that Pujols is exactly that in St. Louis.

Whether he'll be on permanent loan anytime soon at the Marlins' posh new baseball museum in Miami is the subject that continues to dominate these meetings.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:18 pm
 

Arizona pondering Saunders' future

DALLAS -- The Diamondbacks are discussing a contract extension with Joe Saunders in talks that could either tie the left-hander to the Arizona rotation for a couple of more seasons ... or land him squarely on the trade block.

With young starters such as Tyler Skaggs and Jarrod Parker close to ready, and young lefties David Holmberg and Patrick Corbin on the way, the Diamondbacks are internally discussing the merits of a two- or three-year extension to Saunders.

He's worked 200 or more innings in each of the past three seasons and, as such, provides shelter for a young staff growing into its future. But he's also arbitration-eligible and due a big raise from the $5.5 million he earned in 2011. Saunders went 12-13 with a 3.69 ERA for the NL West champion Diamondbacks last summer.

If the Diamondbacks decide to go with their young pitching, the Diamondbacks could seize on a weak free agent market and perhaps deal Saunders as early as this week. The slow dance continues on the free agent market with Mark Buehrle (who is being pursued by more than a dozen clubs) and C.J. Wilson.

Beyond them and maybe Edwin Jackson, the best alternatives for clubs looking to acquire starting pitching this winter appears to be on the trade market, where Oakland is receiving hits on Gio Gonzalez, the White Sox are fielding inquiries on John Danks and Houston is shopping Wandy Rodriguez.
Posted on: December 5, 2011 1:57 am
Edited on: December 5, 2011 2:19 am
 

Pujols? With Reyes, Marlins now need pitching

DALLAS -- Heath Bell opened some eyes. Jose Reyes opened some jaws.

But even with that, Miami isn't done in what is shaping up as the Winter of the Marlin.

Albert Pujols? Are they serious?

Indications late Sunday evening were yes, they're dead serious about pursuing Pujols even with Reyes bagged at six years and $106 million and Bell signed for three years and $27 million with a vesting option for a fourth year at another $9 million.

Question is, is adding Pujols a good idea? Or, at this point, is it simply the Marlins being silly?

Answer: Unless there's enough money to sign Mark Buerhle or C.J. Wilson after Bell, Reyes and Pujols -- and in a sentence I never, ever expected to type, even the Marlins must have a limit -- the noveau riche Fish are just being silly.

Adding Reyes to a dynamic lineup that includes Hanley Ramirez, Logan Morrison, Mike Stanton and All-Star first baseman Gaby Sanchez makes the Marlins an instant contender ... if they can pitch.

Adding Bell as their first legitimate closer in years solidifies their contending status ... if they have enough starting pitching to get the ball to him for 40 or 50 saves in 2012.

With Josh Johnson having crossed the 200 innings threshold only once in seven big-league seasons, and with Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad underperforming in 2012, what the Marlins need most is to back a much-improved lineup with pitching.

With the Reyes agreement, sources here Sunday night said the club absolutely has enough money to sign Bell, Reyes and a free agent starter such as Buehrle or Wilson. That is absolutely the way they should go.

Sure, Pujols, 31, is sexy and the Marlins right now are looking to throw their weight around. But now is the time to use brains, not testosterone.

No matter how the contracts are structured, if they commit in the neighborhood of $275 million or more to just two players -- Reyes and Pujols -- that is insane. Especially when their pitching would remain questionable.

Look for the Marlins to investigate the trade market this week because, assuming Reyes is not their last free-agent haul, they're going to have excess somewhere. They bag Pujols, Sanchez will be available. They add a starter, Nolasco could find himself on the trade block.

It's going to be a wild week here with the Marlins, perhaps a week unlike any other in their history. But what they don't need is to leave Dallas with a lasting hangover.

Tempting as Pujols is, pitching is where they should focus.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com