Good morning, everyone.
Our Opening Day countdown is down to four(!), which also means we're four days away from game recaps reappearing here amongst your regularly planned Breakfast Links.
On to the news:
The Big Three
1. The Cardinals agreed to a five-year, $97.5 million contract extension with Adam Wainwright yesterday, demonstrating that the Chris Carpenter situation has not scared them off from handing out big money to pitchers on the wrong side of 30. Waino will now be with the Redbirds through at least 2018 -- his age 36 season -- which is a long ways away. All the normal disclaimers to giving a long-term contract to a pitcher apply here, but perhaps St. Louis believes that the worst is over injury-wise for their sinker-baller ace. Wainwright's earned-run average wasn't at his pre-Tommy John norms last season, but his strikeout, walk, and home run rates were right in line with the rest of his career, so there's a good chance his ERA in 2012 was just an aberration. I hesitate to call this a good deal, but it's certainly not the worst deal that's been made this week.
2. So this is more Tuesday evening news than yesterday, but I didn't get to talk about it yet so here we are. The Blue Jays have demoted left-hander Ricky Romero to the minors so that he can get a handle on his mechanics. I don't remember the last time a team resorted to demoting their Opening Day starter from the previous season -- especially one who's owed at least $22.5 million over the next three years -- but it definitely seems like the best course of action here. Romero completely lost the plot last season and has actually managed to look even worse this spring. The extension the Jays handed out to J.A. Happ yesterday seems to indicate that perhaps they don't view Romero's issues as being quick fix. I certainly hope Ricky can figure things out. It's always a bit unsettling when an elite athlete suddenly loses his powers a la Space Jam. I worry what it means for the rest of us normal humans in terms of keeping our stuff together.
3. The Angels did some last-minute bargain shopping for relief depth yesterday. The Halos signed right-hander Mark Lowe to a minor-league deal, acquired right-hander Dane De La Rosa from the Rays, and capped off the day by acquiring right-hander Elvin Ramirez from the Mets. Lowe probably has the best shot of breaking into Anaheim's bullpen on Opening Day, while De La Rosa and Ramirez will likely come in handy later on in the season when someone inevitably hits the disabled list. If anything, these moves signify that the Angels aren't going to panic about Ryan Madson's lingering elbow woes and sign someone like Jose Valverde or Francisco Rodriguez... which is probably a big relief to Halo fans (it is for me, at least).
In Other News...
1. The Texas Rangers have one too many center fielders on their roster, so are looking to trade Julio Borbon. The lefty was a big part of the Rangers' outfield from '09-'11 but didn't play at all last year. He's still a strong fourth outfielder option, and should find a home somewhere by the end of the week.
2. And almost like clockwork, the Rockies are targeting right-hander Aaron Cook. The veteran is no stranger to Coors Field, so he's got that going for him, but he's certainly exhausted all his luck as a pitch-to-contact guy in the most cavernous MLB ballpark. And where would Colorado put him if they did sign him?
3. Chris Young is liable to land somewhere by the end of the week, but it doesn't look like it'll be the Mets or the Rangers. The tall right-hander opted out of his minor-league deal with the Nats in the hopes of landing on an Opening Day roster elsewhere, but he's running out of time and interested teams.