We're making a list and checking it twice. Oh heck, who am I kidding. I barely proofread it once.
Happy Festivus for those of you whose calendar still reads "1997."
- The Cardinals signed free agent pitcher "The Leaker" Mike Leake to a five-year, $80 million contract.
- Jerry Crasnick thinks that Leake fills the void in the Cardinals rotation left by John Lackey's departure.
- Matthew Leach thinks that Leake may not be the sexiest free agent, but his dependability and durability is exactly what the Cardinals need.
- In his press conference, Leake was asked about the Cubs and he said "I wouldn't mind taking them down." I don't have a problem with him saying this, but let's not let the Cardinals think they're taking any sort of high-road in the duels of free agent press conferences after this.
- Ken Rosenthal points out that one other thing that appealed to the Cardinals about Leake is that he won't cost them their first-round draft pick.
- Leake will wear number 8, which makes him a rare pitcher with a single-digit number.
- The Mets finally made a free agent move by signing outfielder Alejandro De Aza to a one-year, $4.5 million deal. Or at least they're going to.
- Craig Calcaterra thinks signing De Aza is a fine move for as far as it goes, but the Mets are blowing a golden opportunity to build on their momentum from last season.
- Eddie Matz thinks that Orioles fans shouldn't vilify Chris Davis for turning down the team's offer because no one has done more for the Orioles over the past few seasons than Davis.
- Cliff Corcoran tries to predict where the remaining free agent infielders will end up.
- Shaun Newkirk examines whether the Royals can afford to re-sign Alex Gordon. The short answer is "Yes, but. . . "
- Phil Rogers thinks the NL Central, AL Central and NL West are the most competitive divisions heading into 2016.
- David Schoenfield has an early preview of the AL East.
- And then does the same for the AL Central.
- Russell A. Carleton has a fascinating piece looking at future trends in baseball and how versatility is the one of the new keys to winning.
- The Red Sox are retiring Wade Boggs' number. Ted Berg wonders what took so long.
- Freddy Sanchez officially retired. Since he hasn't played in the majors since 2011, this is one of those "you mean he didn't do that years ago?" type of story. Injuries ruined his career.
- The Economist has a look at baseball's role in Cuba throughout its history and how the game is currently struggling in the face of the country's changing relationship with the US. Also somewhat interesting in that it's written for a European audience, so they have to explain pretty much everything. But there are probably a few things here about the history of baseball in Cuba that you don't know about. (h/t HardballTalk.)
- The Indians released Chris Johnson with two years and $17 million left on his contract.
- Here's a "feel-good" story. After seven seasons in the minor leagues, career minor leaguer Buddy Baumann became a free agent. That's not unusual. What is unusual is that even though he has yet to pitch in the major leagues, the Padres gave Baumann a guaranteed major-league contract. After never making over $2500 a month playing ball, Baumann is now guaranteed $520,000 for 2016.
- Dan Szymborski explains how the broken Hall of Fame voting process has cost Mike Mussina a shot at Cooperstown. (ESPN Insider Only)
- Add a new contender for the bat-flipping king as a player in Venezuela just flipped a bat 15 feet up in the air.
- And finally, what do you give an old friend who has everything? For Giants manager Bruce Bochy, he gave his old friend and former coach Tim Flannery a full-size replica World Series trophy. The two of them won three real ones together in San Francisco.
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. And a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone out there.