If you were awake while I was writing this you could get yourself a $50 laptop or a TV so thin it's invisible for $99, limit one per person, limit three per store. The Cardinals have no such luxury. Their doorbuster: Left-handed reliever Raul Valdes, who is only interesting compared to other left-handed relief pitchers, and only cheap compared to other Cuban defectors. He's a Black Sunday deal—where you go to Best Buy and there's still masking tape on the floor but the only TV still on sale is a 33" 1080g set manufactured in Myanmar.
He's probably not better than Trever Miller or Dennys Reyes, either. But he had a nice year as a longish-reliever for the Mets—after being out of organized baseball for two years, no less—and the strikeouts make him more interesting than the average potential-LOOGY fodder. (Small-sample-size half-empty: Lefties hit .330. Small-sample-size half-full: Lefties struck out 27 times against just three walks.)
Meanwhile, the first big free agent of the season is off the board—Victor Martinez, to the Tigers for four years, $50 million. That sounds about right to me, or just-about-right; Martinez is a bad bet to age well, but he's not a terrible bet to age well relative to other catchers, and he's had six excellent seasons out of seven. Considering the deal Jason Bay got last season—he's basically Victor Martinez, only a terrible defensive outfielder instead of a terrible defensive catcher—Martinez was a bargain.
Not quite Black Friday material—they're paying retail, maybe retail with a coupon—but still a solid move. It also means the Red Sox are about to overpay somebody for a catcher! I say Mozeliak leads with Bryan Anderson for Jed Lowrie, then offers to figure out what Matt Pagnozzi's doing right now if the Sox play hard-to-get.
Meanwhile, Kaz Matsui signed with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, just in time to serve as a cautionary tale for whichever team won the rights to Tsuyoshi Nishioka, set to be announced this very afternoon. The official danup position on Nishioka is already well-established—I think it would be cool, and I guess he'd be better than Skip Schumaker or Miguel Tejada—but keep in mind that teams are bidding for a career year in which he hit .346/.423/.482.
Matsui, 28 at the time, hit .332/.389/.617 and then .305/.365/.549 in back-to-back seasons before joining the Mets, with 36 and 33 home runs. Then he had that one nice season with Colorado and got the Houston Astros to do something they would later forget, for a career mark of .267/.321/.380 that actually understates just how much he struggled in the states.
Of course, whoever signs Nishioka would probably not be especially disappointed to see him put up Matsui's first season with the Mets—.272/.331/.396—over the course of his contract, depending on how his defense plays. Okay, okay, he'd basically be Skip Schumaker at that point, only we wouldn't know whether his defense was terrible yet. I said I thought it would be cool, not that it would be a great idea.