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GM on Peralta: Cardinals not 'morality police'

Tuesday, 26 November 2013 00:14 Published in Sports

 

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals factored in Jhonny Peralta's drug suspension when they negotiated a $53 million, four-year contract with the free agent shortstop.

General manager John Mozeliak said Monday that Peralta had admitted wrongdoing and served his penalty, and that the Cardinals weren't about to appoint themselves "morality police."

"Character and makeup are something we weigh into our decision-making," Mozeliak said. "In his case, he admitted what he did, he took responsibility for it. I feel like he has paid for his mistakes, and obviously if he were to make another one, then it would be a huge disappointment."

Mozeliak agreed with critics that penalties aren't strict enough.

"You do need a deterrent, and right now 50 games does not seem to be necessarily stopping it," Mozeliak said.

But he also believed attitudes have changed.

"I think Major League Baseball has done a great job trying to clean up this game, and I feel like they've taken great steps," the GM said.

While he used the phrase "morale police" during his availability earlier in the day, Mozeliak said he meant to say "morality." He also said the club was confident this was an isolated circumstance.

The 31-year-old Peralta was suspended for 50 games last summer following MLB's investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic, which was accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs. He underwent a physical on Sunday in St. Louis but did not attend the introductory news conference.

Peralta gets $15.5 million next year, $15 million in 2015, $12.5 million in 2016 and $10 million in 2017. He had a $6 million salary season, when he lost $1,639,344 in withheld salary during the suspension.

St. Louis also explored a trade but wasn't willing to part with several prospects. Mozeliak said negotiations went quickly after groundwork was laid at the GM meetings.

Peralta and Stephen Drew were the best two shortstops in free agency. Peralta was a plus for the Cardinals because they've got a lot of left-handed hitters and he bats right-handed.

Mozeliak said rookie Pete Kozma, the starter last year who could end up back in the minors next season, was a better defensive shortstop than Peralta. The Cardinals prized Peralta, an All-Star two of the last three seasons, for his bat.

Peralta batted .303 with 11 homers and 55 RBIs in 107 games last year and four times has hit 20 or more homers. Kozma hit .217 with one homer and 35 RBIs.

Mozeliak said he'd be satisfied if the Cardinals stood pat the rest of the offseason but added the team will still be listening to offers. St. Louis filled its other need last week by trading third baseman David Freese to the Angels for center fielder Peter Bourgos.

Coming off a second World Series in three seasons, the Cardinals are loaded with young pitching and the lineup is set.

Matt Carpenter is set to move from second base to third base next season to make room for rookie Kolten Wong, a first-round draft pick in 2011. Matt Adams will start at first base with Allen Craig moving to right field.

The Cardinals don't anticipate Carlos Beltran, the right fielder last year, will take a one-year qualifying offer.

"There's still some things we can look at, there's still opportunities over the next 6-7 weeks as we progress into the winter meetings, but if the clock stopped today we'd be pretty happy with our club."

Steen scores 2 in Blues' 3-0 win over Wild

Tuesday, 26 November 2013 00:10 Published in Sports

 

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Alexander Steen scored twice, and Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

Steen has 19 goals this season, one behind Washington's Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead.

Vladimir Sobotka also scored for the Blues, who are 9-1-1 in their last 11 and 12-2-1 in the last 15. They have won six straight against Minnesota by a combined 20-7.

The Wild were shut out for the first time this season and lost only their second game in the last eight. Minnesota (15-6-4) is still off to its best start with 34 points in its first 25 games.

Halak improved to 13-3-2 with his third successive win. He robbed Zenon Konopka from close range late in the second period and earned his second shutout of the season and 27th of his NHL career.

Steen pounced on the rebound of Jay Bouwmeester's shot midway through the first period to give the Blues a 2-0 lead. Steen added an empty-net goal with 1:22 left.

Sobotka scored just 1:20 into the game off a rebound of a shot by Carlo Colaiacovo. Sobotka also scored the first goal 1:39 into a 6-1 win over Dallas on Saturday.

Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom, who started in place of Josh Harding, fell to 2-2-2. Harding is day-to-day with a groin injury.

St. Louis has a franchise record 37 points through its first 23 games.

 

NOTES: St. Louis D Kevin Shattenkirk missed the game because of the flu. ... Minnesota LW Mike Rupp made his season debut after missing 24 games due to offseason knee surgery. ... This was the first of five meetings between the new Central Division rivals. ... The Blues lead the NHL with a plus-32 goal differential. ... St. Louis LW Ryan Reaves underwent surgery Monday for a broken bone in his right hand. Reaves, who leads the team with 69 hits, is expected to miss at least six weeks. ... Minnesota has failed to score on its last 11 power plays against the Blues.

Mizzou No. 5 in BCS

Sunday, 24 November 2013 23:55 Published in Sports

 

Northern Illinois moved ahead of Fresno State in the BCS standings and up to No. 14 as the Huskies and Bulldogs jockey to be the last BCS buster.

NIU jumped two spots Sunday and Fresno State slipped one to 16th.

The top three teams in the BCS standings were unchanged: Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State - the remaining undefeated teams in BCS automatic qualifying conferences.

The other major college unbeatens, Northern Illinois and Fresno State, are fighting for one automatic bid. They have to finish in the top 12 of the last BCS standings, which comes out Dec. 8, or finish in the top 16 while ranking ahead of an AQ-conference champion.

Central Florida is in position to win the American Athletic Conference auto-bid, but is 19th in the latest standings.

Northern Illinois reached the BCS last season by being ranked ahead of the champion of the Big East. The Huskies then lost to Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois overtook Derek Carr and Fresno State this week on the strength of better computer ratings. NIU is seventh in the computer ratings, while coming in 17th in the Harris poll and 20th in the USA Today coaches' poll. Fresno State is 13th in each poll, but 17th in the computers.

Jerry Palm, who analyzes the BCS for CBS.com, said he was surprised Northern Illinois made such a big move after winning at Mid-American Conference rival Toledo last week. Fresno State stayed unbeaten with a win against Mountain West Conference foe New Mexico. Neither team has played a strong schedule, Palm said.

"What baffles me is we have such a disparity in the computers between two teams that we're splitting hairs over," he said. "That's a head scratcher."

Palm said NIU's lead could be temporary as Fresno State plays tougher opponents the rest of the way.

NIU plays at home against Western Michigan (1-10) on Tuesday and then faces either Buffalo or Bowling Green in the MAC championship game. Fresno State plays at San Jose State (5-5) on Friday and then either Utah State or Boise State in the Mountain West championship.

The Bowl Championship Series is done after this season. The four-team College Football Playoff replaces it next year.

The Crimson Tide and Seminoles are still on course to meet in the final BCS championship game if they can stay unbeaten. Ohio State is on deck if either of the top two slip up.

The Buckeyes were in danger of being passed by Baylor, but Oklahoma State took care of that by blasting the Bears 49-17 on Saturday night.

Auburn (fourth) and Missouri (fifth) are behind the Buckeyes and could make an interesting case for being in title game if they can win out and become SEC champions with just one loss. But the Buckeyes (.9200 BCS average) have a good-sized lead on both the Auburn Tigers (.8326) and Missouri Tigers (.8077).

Ohio State is third in each poll, followed by Clemson. Auburn is fifth and Missouri is sixth. The Buckeyes are also third in the computer ratings.

"They're not going to pass Ohio State," Palm said of Auburn and Missouri. "The coaches in particular are not going to allow an undefeated to not play for the title. They understand how hard it is to finish unbeaten. It hasn't happened yet in the BCS and there is no reason to think it would this year."

Alabama (11-0) plays Auburn on Saturday, with the winner advancing to the Southeastern Conference championship game as the SEC West winner. Missouri or South Carolina will represent the East, depending on whether the Tigers beat Texas A&M at home.

Florida State (11-0) plays struggling rival Florida at home Saturday and then moves on to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, where Duke, Virginia Tech, Miami or Georgia Tech will be the opponent.

Ohio State (11-0) finishes its regular season against rival Michigan at the Big House on Saturday, and then plays Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game. The Buckeyes have won a school-record 23 straight games. If they remain unbeaten the worst they can do is a trip to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 2009 season.

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