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shameless free-agent rumor (hat tip to rockin redbird): aj burnett to the cardinals? don't know how i really feel about the idea till i look into it a little more, but a knee-jerk reaction is: i'd just as soon they throw money at a hard-throwing pitcher as throw it at another outfielder who'll go 2-for-15 in the nlcs . . . .

apropos that, here's a two-month-old tidbit from the miami herald: "Among those who have encouraged A.J. Burnett to sign with their team this winter: St. Louis' Albert Pujols, the Cubs' Michael Barrett and the Dodgers' Brad Penny."

and here's the case against, courtesy STLedge.

other reading: here are two report cards on yadi molina, one from bellyitcher and one from fungoes.

and here's some praise for leo mazzone, the longtime (and now ex) atlanta pitching coach, from jason marquis: "I know when a young guy comes in Leo tries to be a little harder on him because he wants to instill in him the values that he did with the Madduxes and the Smoltzes and the Glavines, when they were young. Some guys take it the wrong way. ... I tell you what, he's helped me a lot." gee, leo's heart must really be full . . . .

a reader at Athletics Nation reviews an obscure 25-year-old SABR book and asks two questions of moment for cardinal fans: are the playoffs a crap shoot? and does defense matter?

and Catfish Stew asks, semi-seriously, does reason matter in evaluating ballplayers / ball teams? seems like he's saying, more or less, "let statistics guide, not rule, your judgment" -- wise counsel.

neither reason nor intuition served john sickels eight years back when he labeled chris carpenter a grade-C prospect. "His K/IP ratio was very weak for a guy who threw as hard as he reportedly did," sickels explains. still not fully convinced, he adds: "I think '05 will be his career year."

time to roll out plan B for the off-season bullpen overhaul: jeff fassero has re-signed with the giants. damn the luck. . . . .

baseball prospectus' mvp, cy young, roy and moy awards for the american league (as voted by their readers) are out today: a-rod for most valuable, johan santana for cy, huston street for rookie and ozzie the g for mgr of the year. i'll report out the nl awards when they're announced, presumably tomorrow . . . . .