– The Cardinals have officially announced that they were unable to reach a deal with 1B Albert Pujols before his self-imposed deadline. Pujols’ noon ET deadline has come and gone without a deal. “While we are disappointed that we did not reach an agreement, we remain hopeful that Albert will finish his career in St. Louis,” Cardinals’ Chairman William O. DeWitt Jr. said in a statement. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, “the reality is that the Pujols talks have been dead for weeks.” Yikes.
– Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Brewers have signed 2B Rickie Weeks to a 5-year/$50M extension. Rosenthal adds that the Brewers can void the 5th year of the contract if Weeks is not an everyday player in 2013 and 2014. The 28-year-old is coming off career-highs in home runs (29), RBI (83) and runs scored (112), but has struggled to stay healthy in the past. It’s a risk, but he could be a bargain if he stays on the field and maintains similar production.
– The Twins and OF Delmon Young avoided arbitration Wednesday by agreeing to a 1-year/$5.375M contract. Young filed for $6.25M and was offered $4.65M from the Twins when arbitration figures were exchanged last month, so the two sides settled for a little under the midpoint. The 25-year-old earned $2.6M last season while setting new career-highs in batting average (.298), slugging percent (.493), OPS (.826), home runs (21) and RBI (112). He remains under team control through the 2012 season.
– Red Sox’ OF Jacoby Ellsbury (fractured ribs) said Wednesday that he has been 100% “for a while now.” The 27-year-old was limited to just 17 games last season.
– Pirates manager’ Clint Hurdle announced Wednesday that RHP Joel Hanrahan will open the season as the team’s closer. RHP Evan Meek had the lower ERA than Hanrahan last season, but unlike Hanrahan, he doesn’t have closing experience or the ability to miss bats with regularity. Hanrahan struck out 100 batters over 69 2/3 innings last season.
– SI.com’s Jim Trotter reports the Raiders have agreed to terms with DL Richard Seymour on a 2-year/$30M contract, though NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora is hearing it may actually be a 4-year contract. The deal includes $22.5M in guarantees with a $7.5M guaranteed bonus in 2012. The Raiders finished with 47 sacks in 2010, second in the NFL. The new deal will take the 10-year veteran through his age-33 season. It was important for Oakland to bring Seymour back after dealing a 1st-round pick for him two years ago. The signing also paves the way for the Raiders to use the franchise tag on TE Zach Miller.
– The Broncos and impending free agent CB Champ Bailey have resumed contract talks. HC John Fox said, “He’s a guy we have strong feelings about. We’ve had some dialogue there. There have been discussions. He’s a guy we definitely want to bring back.” It’s a good sign that they’re talking again, but sources tell Fox 31 Sports’ Josina Anderson that the team’s “negotiating posture” is unchanged. Bailey isn’t going to accept the Broncos’ offer until they begin offering more guaranteed money. It’s believed that the franchise tag will not be an option.
– The Chiefs have applied the franchise tag to OLB Tamba Hali. Hali has been a new player since switching to OLB in Romeo Crennel’s 4-3 scheme. The 27-year-old led the AFC in sacks last year with 14.5, adding two more in the playoff loss to the Ravens. Hali, Brandon Flowers and Derrick Johnson have become the core of this team’s defence. His linebacker franchise tag is projected to be worth nearly $10.5M for 2011.
– The Bills have released DT Marcus Stroud. The trade to acquire Stroud three years ago wasn’t a good idea, and the $20.5M extension was the cherry on top. Stroud was due $4.5M in 2011 on the heels of poor run defense for consecutive years. The 32-year-old isn’t a fit in the Bills’ 3-4 defence, and the team wanted to open up playing time for promising second-year end Alex Carrington. Expect Stroud to draw a look from 4-3 teams this offseason.
– The Cardinals promoted passing-game coordinator Mike Miller to OC. Miller had been sharing duties with running-game coordinator Russ Grimm since Todd Haley’s departure. Miller began to take turns calling plays in 2010 as preparation for his promotion to full-time play-caller. The Cards were 31st in the league in passing offense and 32nd in rushing offense, so he has a lot of work to do.
– Blackhawks’ coach Joel Quenneville has been hospitalized with an undisclosed illness. According to the team, he was admitted to a suburban hospital early Wednesday morning and is in stable condition. Team physician Michael Terry said, “Joel presented severe discomfort late (Friday) night at his home in suburban Chicago. He went to the emergency room and was admitted early (Wednesday) morning. He is currently in stable condition and is being treated for an undisclosed health concern today, not of cardiac nature. Further testing is ongoing and we will provide an update when possible.” Mike Haviland will take over the coaching duties on Wednesday night against Minnesota in his absence.
– Red Wings’ D Brad Stuart (broken jaw) has been cleared to play for Thursday’s game. F Mike Modano (wrist) has targeted a February 28 return date.
– The Bobcats have removed the interim tag from coach Paul Silas, 67, and have signed him to a 1-year extension. The Bobcats have gone a respectable 15-13 since Silas took over. Silas’ arrival has seen a new, freer offence, opposite of former coach Larry Brown’s textbook style.
– Nets’ GM Billy King said he thinks a trade involving F Troy Murphy trade will happen before next Thursday’s deadline. Murphy hasn’t played since January 7, and currently sits on the inactive list. He’ll need time to get back into game shape before he holds any value.
– With NXT Season 4 wrapping up in less than 2 weeks, where NXT Season 5 is set to premiere the week after Season 4 finale. NXT Season 5 begins on March 8, and there’s been talk of a “father-son” theme featuring WWE legends mentoring their sons.
– Jeff Hardy’s pending court case was delayed once again on Wednesday morning. Hardy was not there in person. Hardy’s attorney James Van Camp represents another client in a murder trial and was not able to appear today, which led to the continuance. The next court date is scheduled for Wednesday March 16, three days after TNA Victory Road and the two nights of iMPACT! tapings that follow.