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Friday, July 01, 2022

Surviving ‘the grind’: Cardinals’ plans to weather rigorous schedule ‘reveal a better team’

So, they had experience and Excel sheets.

“Well, one thing that has been similar to 2020 is asking, ‘Who is on the team today?’” pitching coach Mike Maddux said. “We’ve had a lot of changes, and sometimes those changes were out of an available arm because we can’t just keep beating the same guys up time and time and time again. In between there were some injuries and people on the IL for various reasons. It has challenged our depth. But I think it’s become a testament to our depth.”

Maddux works months ahead with the rotation, reverse-engineering it around off days and opponents. The Cardinals engineered the rotation to get Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Dakota Hudson and Jack Flaherty in line to pitch at Milwaukee on the past road trip.

But, the plans are meant to be rewritten.

“You get one rainout,” Maddux said. “And that’s why you do it in pencil.”

As the Cardinals’ five-game, four-day visit to Wrigley Field neared, the team planned weeks in advance for how pitchers would be used at Triple-A Memphis just to be available, if … well … when needed. Pitch counts were managed, appearances set to avoid overlap, and then when the series arrived the Cardinals made six different pitching transactions. Thompson debuted. Jake Woodford was optioned, recalled, and optioned again in five days.

Tapping into the 40-man roster and beyond for innings has allowed the Cardinals to cover 647 2/3 innings over the past 77 days, 24 more than any other NL team. And they’ve done it with a 3.74 ERA, which ranks top 10 in the majors. That’s allowed them to keep pace with Milwaukee in the division as the Brewers deal with their own quirky schedule; they’ve already played 44 of their 81 road games.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 01, 2022 at 10:46 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Cardinals absolutely confused the Pirates into allowing a run with a brilliant baserunning trick

Well, one thing is for certain: The St. Louis Cardinals paid attention to all the baserunning drills in spring training.

It was amazing to watch that play out in real time. The Pirates simply had no clue how to handle it.

With Paul Goldschmidt at the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game, he hit a sharp grounder to short — which should have ended the inning. But keep an eye on what Nolan Gorman did on the base path. Instead of slowing down to slide, Gorman kept running through the bag at full speed. This led to both a safe call at second base, and it amazingly distracted Pirates second baseman Yu Chang.

Again, the bases were loaded with two outs. So while Gorman’s effort allowed him to beat the toss to second, Chang could have made the turn and thrown to first to force out the slow-running Goldschmidt and end the inning with no runs scoring. But Chang was caught so off guard by Gorman’s antics that he chased after him to third base, which allowed Yadier Molina to score from third.

Even though the Cardinals eventually ran into an out there, they were able to score the run by keeping the play alive and eliminating the force opportunity at both second and first.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 15, 2022 at 09:37 AM | 66 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Cardinals To Promote Nolan Gorman, Matthew Liberatore; Tyler O’Neill to IL

The Cardinals are set to promote top prospects Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore heading into this weekend’s series against the Pirates, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter links).

According to Goold, Gorman will be in tomorrow’s starting lineup at second base. That figures to be his primary role moving forward, with Gold Glove second baseman Tommy Edman kicked to the other side of the bag. Edman has been excellent this season, but the Cards haven’t gotten much production out of their shortstops. Paul DeJong struggled enough the team optioned him to Triple-A Memphis last week, seemingly setting the stage for a forthcoming Gorman promotion.

That’s not to say the Cardinals hastily promoted Gorman to compensate for struggles at the major league level — far from it. The left-handed hitter has forced his way to the majors with an incredible showing in Memphis. Over 147 plate appearances, he’s hitting .308/.367/.677 with an astounding 15 home runs. No other Triple-A batter has more than 13 round-trippers, and only the Cubs’ Robel García has a higher slugging percentage in the International League.

Gorman’s production hasn’t been completely without issue, as he’s gone down on strikes 50 times. That’s a 34% clip, an alarming rate for any minor leaguer considering the higher quality of pitching he’ll face in the majors.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 19, 2022 at 06:41 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, matthew liberatore, nolan gorman

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

After being ‘positive and patient,’ Cards option DeJong to Triple-A

Feeling that they had been plenty “positive and patient” with Paul DeJong, the Cardinals optioned the struggling shortstop to Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday when “the at-bats looked the same and the adjustment wasn’t coming” and started the process of finding their next long-term shortstop.

On Tuesday, when the Cardinals hosted the Orioles at Busch Stadium for the first time since 2003, the shortstop job fell onto the shoulders of rookie Brendan Donovan, who became the first player since 1900 to make his first four MLB starts at four different infield positions. Tommy Edman, the Gold Glove winner at second base last season, will get more pregame work at shortstop in the coming days and could see time there soon. Also, Edmundo Sosa will finish up a two-game rehab stint at Double-A Springfield on Wednesday and could potentially play for the Cardinals later this week.

As for the status of DeJong, who hit just .130 in 24 games, the Cardinals staff met on the team plane Sunday night on the way home from San Francisco and again in St. Louis on Monday. The decision to option their full-time shortstop since 2017 to the Minors was made prior to Tuesday’s game. .

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 10, 2022 at 11:15 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, paul dejong

Friday, April 22, 2022

Incredible Story of Larry Bird - High School Baseball Coach

In order to finish his college degree, Larry Bird was working at Ballinger’s school as a physical education student-teacher just weeks before becoming an NBA rookie. While doing so, Bird approached Ballinger about helping out with his team. As soon as they could find a uniform that fit his 6-foot-9 frame, “Larry Legend” was officially an assistant varsity baseball coach.

“As far as a lot of the technicalities of baseball, cutoff men and stuff, that was more Coach Ballinger. But the fly balls Larry would hit to the outfielders were Dave Kingman like. Sometimes he’d put them over the fence and into the tennis court,” said Bob Compton, who was a senior first baseman on the team coached by Bird.

Imagine Ja Morant in baseball pants hitting fungos to high school kids just days before his first NBA press conference. Talk about a viral TikTok.

“Larry would get on the tractor and mow the grass for me. He would help line the field too,” said Ballinger.


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Scaling the walls: After exploring new dimensions for Busch to spur offense, Cardinals stuck with ‘golden’ rule

“We talk about this ballpark quite a bit and how it’s a pitchers’ park,” Marmol said a few hours before Thursday’s 9-0 win powered by three homers. “I think at the end of the day, it’s a mindset. We know what we’re getting into here. … If you’re mentally strong enough to know that going into it you can see the opposing club get frustrated at times. You add drilling the ball and it getting caught at the warning track. That’s normally a home run in 22 other parks. Then you add our defense to that and you can’t get away with anything? It’s a frustrating day.”

So rather than move the walls in, the Cardinals leaned in.

In this launch-angle age, a ballpark that does not reward that approach could be advantage for the lineup that knows it best.

The Cardinals tailored several of their offseason moves to their defense and the ballpark. They’re high on Sunday starter, lefty Steven Matz, because of his groundball-greedy approach and how he’ll benefit from the big ballpark. Reliever Nick Wittgren was bit by homers in 2021. The Cardinals believe his numbers will be reduced simply by transplanting him. The analytics on Drew VerHagen suggest the right-hander will thrive in Busch’s friendly non-confines. During spring training, lefty Connor Thomas impressed, and Marmol used the home ballpark to explain why.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 10, 2022 at 10:02 PM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Cardinals name former closer Jordan Hicks as fifth starter in surprising move

The St. Louis Cardinals will have a surprising face in their rotation when they begin their season on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jordan Hicks, who had served as the Cardinals’ closer as recently as 2019, will open the year as the fifth starter, according to what manager Oliver Marmol announced on Wednesday.

Hicks, 25 years old, has never started or opened a game before in his big-league career. He was a starter earlier in his professional career, making 34 minor-league starts (including as recently as 2017) before he reached The Show. All that will change on Tuesday, when he’s scheduled to face the Kansas City Royals. Marmol, for his part, said he hopes that Hicks can get through two or three innings as the Cardinals build up his pitch count, according to MLB.com’s John Denton.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 06, 2022 at 04:35 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, jordan hicks

Thursday, March 31, 2022

‘I have a broken heart:’ Mike Shildt bares his soul about being fired by the Cardinals

La Russa, who spent 16 years as the Cardinals manager with two World Series titles before returning to manage the Chicago White Sox, said he heard a comment from someone in the Cardinals’ organization that Shildt was fired because of a “toxic environment.’’

“That one frosted my ass,’’ La Russa said. “My comment was that if it was toxic, it must be in the front office. … I’m for the Cardinals. Everybody makes their own decision. But when you start talking about that, it might damage his chance to manage again for those that don’t know any better. He did a hell of a job.

“Philosophical differences? Ok. But toxic?

“He’s a special guy. That’s why it’s so important for his reputation to be intact and not smeared.’’

Mozeliak, when contacted, declined to publicly revisit the reasons for Shildt’s firing. He simply reiterated that there were philosophical differences, saying Shildt’s record and success as manager was inconsequential in the decision.

Shildt, 53, without going into public details, acknowledges he didn’t share the same views with Mozeliak on some components of the organization, but not nearly enough to provoke a firing.

“I thought I was going to die in my Cardinals uniform,’’ he said. “That’s why it still hurts so much.’’

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 31, 2022 at 10:53 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, mike shildt

Monday, March 28, 2022

Sources: Albert Pujols signing one-year, $2.5 million deal with St. Louis Cardinals

Albert Pujols is going back to where it all started—to the organization with which he carved out a Hall of Fame career, and to the city that still adores him.

On Sunday night, Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals agreed to terms on a one-year contract for the 2022 season, sources confirmed to ESPN, giving the 42-year-old first baseman the opportunity to bookend his Hall of Fame career in storybook fashion.

Once he completes his physical, Pujols will officially return to the Cardinals organization with which he starred through his first 11 seasons in the major leagues, capturing three National League MVP awards, claiming two World Series championships and compiling nine All-Star Game appearances.

The deal is worth $2.5 million, sources said, and will grant Pujols a part-time role in which he will seemingly start at designated hitter against lefties and otherwise serve as a late-game pinch-hitter. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Athletic first reported the news.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 28, 2022 at 09:02 AM | 36 comment(s)
  Beats: albert pujols, cardinals

Friday, March 11, 2022

Cardinals make MLB’s first post-lockout signing by inking Drew VerHagen to two-year contract

The St. Louis Cardinals have made the first signing since Major League Baseball’s owner-imposed lockout ended on Thursday night, some 99 days after it was first installed. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, the Cardinals have agreed to a two-year pact worth $5.5 million with right-handed pitcher Drew VerHagen.

VerHagen, 31 years old, spent the last two seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league. He appeared 39 times with the Fighters, accumulating a 3.51 ERA and a 3.47 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

VerHagen does have extensive big-league experience. Prior to heading overseas, he had appeared in more than 120 big-league games as a member of the Detroit Tigers organization. He posted career marks of a 5.11 ERA (88 ERA+) and a 2.08 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 199 innings. His contributions, as estimated by Baseball Reference, were worth 1 Win Above Replacement.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 11, 2022 at 12:36 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, drew verhagen

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun joins Landers in KBO on record 4-year deal

Kim Kwang-hyun has left the St. Louis Cardinals and will return to South Korea on a record four-year contract.

The left-handed pitcher will rejoin his old club, which is now known as the SSG Landers, in the Korean Baseball Organization.

The club issued a statement Tuesday saying the deal is worth up to 15.1 billion won ($12.3 million) over four seasons, the largest contract in the league’s history.

Kim pitched for the SK Wyverns, as the Landers were previously known, from 2007 to 2019 before joining the Cardinals on a two-year contract. The 33-year-old Kim became a free agent after the 2021 season.

He was the KBO’s regular season MVP in 2008 and won four Korean Series titles with the Incheon-based club.

In two seasons with St. Louis, Kim went 10-7 with a 2.98 ERA in 35 games, including 28 starts. He began the 2020 season as the Cardinals closer, recording a save in his first Major League appearance at the age of 32.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 08, 2022 at 11:11 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, kbo, kwang-hyun kim

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

David Green, ‘82 champ with Cards, dies at 61

David Green, once a promising outfield talent who received comparisons to Roberto Clemente and was a member of the World Series champion Cardinals in 1982, died recently at the age of 61, the club confirmed on Tuesday morning.

The Cardinals did not specify the cause of death, but media reports out of his native Nicaragua said that it was due to health complications stemming from recent heart attacks.

Green, signed as a 17-year-old by the Brewers in 1978, was traded to the Cardinals just two years later in the blockbuster deal that sent Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers and Ted Simmons, as well as future AL Cy Young Winner Pete Vuckovich, to Milwaukee. The deal was not supposed to be as lopsided as it played out; Whitey Herzog, during his time as both general and field manager in St. Louis, was incredibly high on Green’s potential, quoted at the time as saying “we think so much of Green that we would not have made the deal if he had not been in it.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 01, 2022 at 02:22 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, david green, obituaries

Friday, December 11, 2015

IT’S THE CUBS’ WORLD NOW

Not to spoil the ending, but:

But the Cardinals aren’t doomed. They still have a solid lineup, a solid rotation and a solid bullpen, and you’d have to think they’ll add somebody. But for years, some fans have claimed, wrongly, that Cardinals-Cubs isn’t a real rivalry because the Cards have always been so much better than the Cubs. This, not coincidentally, is the same thing Yankees fans used to say about the Red Sox, before Epstein took over there as well. Now, some have said, in the wake of the Cubs’ signing of Heyward, that this ratchets up the rivalry.

But if anything, I believe it dampens it. Even before Friday, the Cubs were a better team than the Cardinals in just about every way. Now that the Cubs took the Cardinals’ best player, the gap between these teams have widened. If anyone needs to prove this is a rivalry, it’s the fading Cardinals.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pujols, La Russa absent as Obama honors Cardinals

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Tuesday dubbed the St. Louis Cardinals the “greatest comeback team in the history of baseball” thanks to their thrilling late-season charge into the playoffs and death-defying, seven-game triumph in last November’s World Series.

[...]

Two key figures of the championship season were absent. Manager Tony La Russa retired after the series. And star Albert Pujols signed a $240 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels in the offseason.

Classy!

Tuque Posted: January 17, 2012 at 10:22 PM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals

Monday, January 16, 2012

Retrosimba: An interview with former Cardinals pitcher Al Jackson

Q: You began the 1967 season in the Cardinals’ rotation and in April pitched a one-hit shutout, beating the Astros, 4-0, in Houston. Bob Aspromonte broke up the no-hitter with a leadoff single in the eighth. Do you recall what happened?

Al Jackson: Yes, I do _ big-time. It wasn’t so much the no-hitter. I just wanted to maintain the stuff that I had that night, the control that I had. I wasn’t throwing as good as I was earlier in the game but I also knew that when I got a little tired, I was a better pitcher because I could keep the ball down. Against Aspromonte, I got the groundball I wanted. The pitch may have been down the middle because it was hit in the hole between short and third. If I had thrown it a little further away, the ball may have gone to the shortstop. I wasn’t worried about losing the game. I just wanted to stay on top of mine.

I also had pitched a one-hitter with the Mets against Houston. Joe Amalfitano got the hit. Boxscore Later, I was asked to speak at a dinner in New York. I began by saying I disliked Italians. The room was full of Italians and they looked at me like I was crazy. Then I had to explain: the two guys who broke up my no-hitters are named Amalfitano and Aspromonte. It got a laugh.

Q: Musial was 4-for-5 in his career against you. He batted .800 against you. You were smart to put him on with the walk…

Al Jackson: I’m glad I had a place to put him. I was asked after the game, “Why would you walk him? He’s a left-handed hitter.”  I said, “Why? That’s Musial.” Just look at his record. He’s known for beating teams. And here I am in that small ballpark _ just 250 feet down both lines. I know he can hit for power down both lines. And I never thought about striking him out. That wasn’t on my mind at all.

Thanks to Heck.

Repoz Posted: January 16, 2012 at 06:32 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, history, mets

Sunday, January 15, 2012

MLB.com: Wainwright expresses admiration for Tebow

ST. LOUIS—Hours before taking the field against the New England Patriots on Saturday night, Tim Tebow found himself the center of discussion in the Cardinals’ interview room. Yes, these days it seems as if there is no setting that the Broncos quarterback can’t effectively infiltrate.

Putting his Southeastern Conference allegiance aside, Adam Wainwright spent several minutes expressing his admiration for Tebow, particularly for the fearless the University of Florida product shows in expressing his religious faith in a public forum.

“I am obsessed with Tim Tebow,” Wainwright said. “I’m not afraid to say it. It’s almost embarrassing to us athletes that this much emphasis is put on Tim Tebow because that means we aren’t living our lives as we should. If we did that more often, the way he is living wouldn’t be as big a story. I’m so proud of him for living out his faith.”

Tripon Posted: January 15, 2012 at 02:07 PM | 193 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, rockies

MLB Trade Rumors: Bartolo Colon Agrees to Sign With Unknown Team

Bartolo Colon has agreed to a deal with an unknown club reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). The right-hander wouldn’t divulge the team because he has not yet passed his physical.

Pretty sure it’s either the All-Stars or the Champs.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Neyer: Who Will the Cardinals Miss the Most?

Rally squirrel, obv.

Thursday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s website ran a poll:

Whose departure will have the biggest impact on the Cardinals?

The choices: Dave Duncan, Tony La Russa, Albert Pujols…

What I found most interesting about the poll wasn’t that Pujols finished last, but that Dave Duncan finished first, with 42 percent next to La Russa’s 30 and Albert’s 28… I’m intrigued by the notion that Cardinals fans might actually give more credit to Duncan than La Russa for the team’s recent successes. Partly because I’m not completely sure they’re wrong.

But hey, let’s make this about the Hall of Fame, since we could never get tired of that.

This isn’t an original thought, either for me or the rest of the Internet, but I believe Dave Duncan deserves, if not more credit than La Russa, at least some real Hall of Fame consideration…

In the five years before Duncan got hold of Dave Stewart, he went 30-35 with a 98 ERA+. In the next five years, he went 93-50 with a 118 ERA+.

I don’t know how much of that was Dave Duncan, how much was Tony La Russa, and how much was just Dave Stewart getting a chance to pitch. But if I were somehow involved with the Hall of Fame, I would like to know.

I would like to know that, and a lot more.

The District Attorney Posted: January 12, 2012 at 07:40 PM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, hall of fame

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Robothal: Cards’ Duncan taking leave from team

Dave Duncan, one of the game’s most respected pitching coaches, is taking a leave of absence from the St. Louis Cardinals, general manager John Mozeliak said Thursday night.

Duncan, 66, is leaving the team so he can be with his wife, Jeanine, who underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor on Aug. 21, the team announced in a news release…

The team said that Mozeliak will meet with new manager Mike Matheny in the near future “to determine the team’s course of action to fill Duncan’s position during his absence.”

Duncan missed more than a month after his wife’s surgery last season, but rejoined the team for the final day of the regular season and remained with the club through the Cardinals’ march to the World Series title.

Bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist served as pitching coach while Duncan was away from the club…

Duncan is under contract to the Cardinals through 2012 with a club option for the 2013 season.

The District Attorney Posted: January 05, 2012 at 10:40 PM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cybermetrics: Why Didn’t The Writers Vote Johnny Mize Into The Hall Of Fame?

Being that he saw his whole career…I once asked Madden the same exact thing.

He got in, via the Veterans Committee, in 1981. So it might seem a little late and silly to complain about it.

But he never he even got 50% of the vote from the writers (he topped out at 43.6% of the vote in 1971 and he got 41.3% in 1973, his last year of eligibility). If we went strictly by WAR, it seems like he should definitely be in. Even now, about 50 years from when he first became eligible, he is 55th in career WAR among position players with 70.2. He had 8 top 5 finishes and one first place. He was in the top 5 each year from 1937-40.

So he had very high career value and peak value. In Win Shares, he also had 8 top 5 finishes among position players, including 3 first places finishes. He was 104th through 2001 in career Win Shares (338) including pitchers. He also missed 3 seasons due to WW II. Bill James ranked him as the 6th best 1B man in the 2nd Historical Abstract.

...In his first year of eligibility, 1960, he got only 16.7% of the vote. Click here to see the voting that year at Baseball Reference. Twelve guys got more votes than he did that year and he had more WAR than all of them. He beat 8 of them buy 20 or more WAR. Edd Roush, Sam Rice and Eppa Rixy all got over 50% of the vote that year, a level Mize never achieved. None of them had even 52 WAR (Mize had 70.2). All but one of the 12 got in before Mize (except Lazzeri). Most were by the Veterans Committee. So they too, did not give Mize the credit he deserved.

I think the writers, and to a lesser extent the Veterans Committee, did a poor job in evaluating Mize. I hope the writers have been, and are getting, better. But when I see the voting for guys like Raines and Bagwell, not to mention Lou Whitaker being gone after just one year on the ballot, I am not sure.

Repoz Posted: December 28, 2011 at 08:53 PM | 51 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, hall of fame, history, sabermetrics, yankees

Monday, December 26, 2011

Jayson Stark (ESPN): Strange stuff … in the 2011 postseason

The postseason edition of trivia and oddbits that Jayson Stark excels at collecting and presenting…

Here’s one I didn’t know:

All four teams that advanced to the LCS—the Cardinals, Brewers, Rangers and Tigers—got outscored by the teams they played in the Division Series … and won.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Carlos Beltran Signs 2-Year Deal With St. Louis Cardinals, According To Report

According to a report from Derrick Gould of the Post-Dispatch, free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran has agreed to terms with the St. Louis Cardinals on a two-year contract. St. Louis emerged as a major contender for Beltran’s services this week, though the club was cautious given the veteran’s recent injury problems.

  The Cardinals and Beltan’s agent, Dan Lozano, were able to finalize a deal Thursday evening. Beltran missed significant playing time in 2009 and 2010 as he recovered from knee surgeries, and the Cardinals wanted to understand more about his health before completing the deal. The Cardinals intensified their pursuit of the switch-hitter this week.

Thanks to Doug.

Repoz Posted: December 23, 2011 at 01:14 AM | 80 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Perry: Why I’m Not Mad at Pujols

Dayn’s first piece for Pitchers Hit Eighth.

This is a story without a villain:

I’m not angry at Albert Pujols. How can I be after all this? He’s provided us with too many impossible moments to chronicle and ferried us to a pair of championships. The past is unchanged, as some philosopher said at some point, probably in the original French.

...We’ll never, ever know the full complement of motivations that led him to do this. Pujols might want a new challenge after winning it all and seeing the only manager he’s ever known retire. He might believe the Angels provide him with a better opportunity to win than the Cardinals do (although there’s a self-fulfilling element to that prophecy). It could be layers of reasons. The weather. The chance to ease into the DH role in five years or so. Maybe his favorite cousin lives in Mission Viejo. He enjoys fresh, roadside citrus. Whatever. Even the most enterprising reporters aren’t privy to his thoughts.

...Most of all, to read into L’Affaire Pujols the basest of impulses is to pretend you know things you simply don’t. You’ll never know his innermost workings, the exact tenor of negotiations, or his true reasons for making this choice. Never. It makes for a tidy narrative to color him as a bad actor in all of this, but one could just as easily say the organization, after enjoying a decade-plus of Pujols for pennies on the dollar, is the disloyal party, the one who’s most transparently “about the money.” I choose not to make either case, mostly because a negotiation isn’t a morality tale.

And with that, I am sufficiently purged. I’m also ready for actual baseball.

Repoz Posted: December 17, 2011 at 05:03 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, cardinals, history

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gordon: Mozeliak assembling strong clubhouse for Matheny

Not without stud-framing clips, you don’t.

This team must keep as much of the 2011 vibe as possible. The Cards will have a different feel without destined Hall of Famers Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols setting the tempo on and off the diamond, but the team can maintain a good temperament by keeping the right sort of players.

Mozeliak learned plenty while sparring with La Russa over his roster make-up. Some players can excel in part-time roles and others cannot.

La Russa placed a premium on getting optimal fits for platoon and bench roles. Schumaker is a classic case. So is Punto.

Fans tend to dismiss the impact of such players, but a strong supporting cast can keep a team keep rolling through the 162-game grind. The sturdy makeup of the 2011 team allowed it to step over fallen teams and reach the playoff bracket with its unlikely late charge.

...Fielding a team with great mental/emotional make-up will be just as important as maximizing offensive and defensive potential — especially with a first-year manager in charge.

Repoz Posted: December 16, 2011 at 11:18 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What Lou Brock Will Tell Pujols

When the good Lord opens the sky and rain of disdain falls about ye…make sure you got a freakin’ Brockabrella handy!

Brock is planning on meeting with Pujols soon.  I asked him what he plans to say to the newest Angel.

“The first thing I would say is: ‘Relax,’” Brock said.  “Take a break from all of this.  And most of all, do not let your good deeds here in St. Louis be spoken of as evil because you went to Anaheim.”

...About a week before the Winter Meetings, Brock visited with Pujols.  He noticed that Pujols became somewhat uncomfortable when people around them would bring up the future.

“Albert, in his mind, was coming back to St. Louis,” Brock said.  “(But) every time somebody around us would mention that…he would just smile.  It was an indication that ‘I don’t want to talk about it – my body language may say one thing, but I’m really thinking another.’” “But it actually was to stay in St. Louis,” Brock insisted.

How many years of baseball does Pujols realistically have left in him?

“I think Albert is on the mountaintop,” Brock said.  “How long can he sustain being at the top of his game?  I would say he has a good six or seven years left.

“The decline can start — and will start — on the other side of the mountain,” Brock notes, “but you’re talking about six or seven years away.  That’s a long time.”

Repoz Posted: December 14, 2011 at 04:02 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, cardinals

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Sox TherapyHey Now
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NewsblogOutfielder Austin Hays becomes sixth player in Baltimore Orioles history to hit for cycle
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NewsblogRanking the home uniforms of all 30 MLB teams
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NewsblogBoston media explodes after Red Sox blow it without unvaccinated closer Houck
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NewsblogRob Manfred wants you to know: He doesn't hate baseball, he wants to save it
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