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Tag:St. Louis Cardinals
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:32 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 7:00 am
 

Rockies, Cards, Jays among those in on Beltran


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 10, 2011 7:18 pm
 

Deidre Pujols: "Broken-hearted and delighted"

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Deidre Pujols, Albert's wife, spoke eloquently and passionately Saturday about the slugger's decision to forsake his longtime St. Louis home and sign a 10-year, $254 million deal with the Angels.

The couple's future had been up in the air since Pujols declined the Cardinals' nine-year, $195 million offer on the eve of spring training and declared that he would enter free agency this winter.

"You cannot prepare yourself" for something like this, Deidre Pujols said. "We did the same thing 12 years ago when Albert was drafted. You can try to not listen to what people say, and you can try and prepare in the moment. But you cannot prepare for when the moment comes.

"There are so many adjectives to describe the feeling. Broken-hearted and delighted, all at the same time."

Yes, she said, the process has been difficult for her, too.

"Listen, St. Louis, we made it our home," she said. "We have a lot of time invested in the community. You can't just get up and leave it like that.

"Now, it's more like we have an additional place to be [and call home]. We realize there is a lot of hurt. We're experiencing the same thing. That wasn't our intention in our decision.

"We're never going to stop loving St. Louis, and loving the people. I don't want Albert to be a possession. He was a human being. I can't tell you deeper than that. He's a man."
Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:19 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 1:16 pm
 

Pujols stuns baseball, signs with Angels

DALLAS -- Albert Pujols agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday morning in a decision that has absolutely shocked the baseball world.

Less than 24 hours after the Angels jumped into the Pujols sweepstakes, they landed the St. Louis icon with a 10-year, $254 million deal. The deal includes a full no-trade clause and will tie Pujols to the Angels through the age of 41.

It is the third-largest contract in baseball history, trailing only Alex Rodriguez's two deals, for $275 million (2008-2017) and $252 million (2001-2010).

The staggering deal is for some $70 million more than owner Arte Moreno paid for the Angels. In April, 2003, he purchased them for $180 million from the Walt Disney Co.

Pujols, coming off of his second World Series championship with the Cardinals, was a St. Louis icon. The Cardinals picked him in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and are the only franchise for whom he's ever played. In 11 seasons with the Cardinals, Pujols batted .328 with 445 home runs and 1,329 RBI.

He has won three National League MVP awards, two Gold Gloves, six Silver Sluggers and is a nine-time All Star.

The Cardinals knew this day could possibly come but worked to avoid it. They negotiated with Pujols last winter but faced a deadline set by the slugger when spring training opened. He did not want to be distracted once the season started, so he terminated negotiations upon reporting to camp in Jupiter, Fla., last February.

St. Louis presented Pujols with a new offer on Tuesday, a reported 10-year offer for $220 million. The Miami Marlins were pushing hard to sign Pujols this week but talks between them and Pujols' camp ended on Wednesday. The Cubs earlier this week became involved, but they were only interested on a shorter-term deal, for four or five years.

The Angels moved into the talks full bore on Wednesday, with owner Arte Moreno personally speaking with Pujols. Even as late as Wednesday afternoon, first-year Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto worked to deflect attention away from the Angels as they made their stealth bid.

"Our net is spread wide," Dipoto said when asked about Pujols, but that's not necessarily where our focus is."

By Thursday, stunningly, shockingly, impressively ... that net had caught the biggest prize on the free agent market.

It was a dramatic reversal of the Angels recent misfortunes on the free agent market. In recent years, they've swung and missed at CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and, perhaps most frustratingly for them, Carl Crawford last winter. All indications were that Crawford wanted to play in the West, but the Red Sox moved in and blew the Angels out of the water with a seven-year, $142 million deal.

Having missed the playoffs for two consecutive seasons, the Angels have had a growing sense of frustration. They're betting that Pujols, who has two World Series rings since the Angels' last -- and only -- World Series win in 2002, can help them not only return to October baseball, but win another World Series crown.

Posted on: December 8, 2011 2:13 am
 

Fielder talks inch along in Dallas

DALLAS -- Waiting for some juice in the Prince Fielder talks?

Keep waiting.

"We've spent the past three days stuck in hotel rooms going through the flurry of teams that have come in and made their presentations, listening to teams talk about their interest levels, what they see and how Prince can fit into their organization as a player and contractually," Scott Boras, the agent for Fielder, said late Wednesday night. "We're taking all of this information, and I'm heading out to meet with Prince and discuss it and get an approach.

"And then we're going to begin furthering the process with teams."

Translation: Fielder isn't close to finding a landing spot.

The big first baseman declined the Milwaukee Brewers' offer of arbitration Wednesday, confident that there is a long-term deal awaiting him in the market. With all of the attention so far devoted to another slugging first baseman, Albert Pujols, Fielder's status has remained under the radar since the free agent signing period started last month.

The Brewers are maintaining contact with Boras, but they are not confident in their financial ability to retain him. Texas remains interested but on the periphery (for now), according to sources familiar with the Rangers' plans. So, too, does Seattle, whose general manager, Jack Zduriencik, was Milwaukee's scouting director when the Brewers made Fielder their No. 1 pick in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2002 draft.

There are those who believe the Cubs will enter the bidding, but all appears quiet on the North Side of Chicago for now (besides, the Cubs have been involved with Pujols so far). Some people think the Blue Jays will turn aggressive in Fielder's direction.

Boras maintains that the Pujols talks are not impacting those of Fielder, and that whatever decision Pujols ultimately makes will not affect Fielder.

"I just don't see teams other than the team that signs Albert -- that would be the only team I would think that would be impacted," Boras said. "The real issue is, does a team need a young, franchise core player? These players have so much value to them because they have value from the media content, they increase your RSN [Regional Sports Network] value tremendously, they also increase your attendance and they also allow ownership to retain ancillary players at a greater rate because those players want to stay on a winning team with a core player like that.

"It's very nice to hit in front of those kinds of players, and that attracts players. We saw in Milwaukee a great pitcher, Zack Greinke, let his original team know he wanted to go there and play. And that's because they had players like Prince Fielder there. And I think players sign long term to stay with those teams.

"There's an attraction value that comes with those players that help clubs retain the players they have or attract other ones.

"I just think there are few of them."
Posted on: December 8, 2011 1:53 am
 

Cardinals continue with company in Pujols talks

DALLAS -- The skies seemed to clear ever so briefly for the Cardinals on Wednesday when they learned that the Marlins were out of the Albert Pujols talks. Then the Los Angeles Angels jumped in, according to sources, and the fog has moved back in.

Also in the mix are an unidentified team that reportedly has offered 10 years and more than $200 million, and a Chicago Cubs' offer believed to be shorter term -- four or five years.

It is not clear when Pujols will make a decision. But multiple sources familiar with the talks said the Angels, rumored to have been involved with Pujols 24 hours earlier when they really were not in the mix, entered the bidding aggressively and seriously Wednesday.

Question is, for how long? The Angels also were working feverishly Wednesday night to wrap up a deal with free agent starting pitcher C.J. Wilson. If they come to terms with the left-hander, that almost certainly will preclude them from being able to add Pujols as well.

The agent for Pujols, Dan Lozano, could not be reached for comment. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported that the Angels made what is believed to be 10-year offer worth at least $210 million. On Tuesday, the Cardinals came in strong with their first new offer since last February, reportedly 10 years at $220 million.

Rookie Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto was evasive earlier Wednesday afternoon when asked directly about Pujols, saying "We're trying to improve our club in a variety of different ways. Speculation is what speculation is. Our net is spread wide, but that's not necessarily where our focus is."

Dipoto said the Angels would like to add a starting pitcher, bullpen depth and a bat that would make the Angels deeper and more versatile.

While deep in talks with Wilson on Wednesday night, the Angels added free agent setup man LaTroy Hawkins on Wednesday night, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3 million.

Meantime, sources said, the Angels had the pedal to the metal with Wilson and were hard after Pujols.

"We'll continue to have parallel talks, and that's not solely limited to a starting pitcher," Dipoto said earlier in the day. "You have to have the ability to break off and move in a different direction."

The entry of the Angels and an unidentified club into the Pujols sweepstakes had to add to the Cardinals' frustration over not being able to close this deal.

Talks between the Pujols Camp and the Marlins ended sometime around midday Wednesday, which sent the Marlins successfully recruiting in the direction of free agent starter Mark Buehrle. It was around that time that it became publicly clear that the Marlins were out on Pujols, and maybe the Cardinals thought they were home free.

You would think maybe they should be. As the Prince Fielder negotiations proceed slowly, agent Scott Boras held an informal media briefing late Wednesday night in which he dismissed the idea that the Pujols negotiations in any way would affect what he is doing with Fielder.

"The reasons St. Louis are interested in Albert are unique to Albert Pujols," Boras said. "He's dynamic, he has a history there, he's a franchise player, he's a great player ... he's the kind of player [of which] you should probably build a statue while he's playing. He's that kind of guy. He's a really unique player."

Clearly looking to plant seeds for Fielder as well while paying tribute to Pujols, Boras argued that retaining franchise players such as these two first basemen provides value to a club beyond what the player himself does.

"Certainly, the retention of players, I know Matt Holliday came to St. Louis and stayed in St. Louis because Albert Pujols was there," Boras said. "And I know another client of mine, Kyle Lohse, a big reason he wanted to win and go to St. Louis is because Albert Pujols was there.

"So those are two great examples of my clients who were attracted to and stayed in St. Louis because of an iconic player."

In his first foray into free agency, the question remains whether that iconic player will stay in place or move to greener pastures -- or, at least, pastures filled with more greenbacks.
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 5, 2011 12:15 pm
 

DeWitt: "Making every effort" to re-sign Pujols

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.

"We're hopeful."

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: 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