Tag Archive | "Albert Pujols"

Matt Holliday and Measuring the Moment

For all that can be said about Matt Holliday, one thing that can’t be taken from him is his flair for the moment. On Tuesday night, for the second time in this season’s playoff run, he delivered a decisive and momentum swinging blow for the Cardinals, and has once again delivered them to brink of moving to the next round.

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Yet when looking at his plain performance, it is easy to see why he receives some of the criticism he does. Despite being leaned on to be the main producer for the struggling Cardinal lineup, he has more often than not failed to live up to that billing. In the NLCS, he is hitting .125 and hadn’t had a hit in over 10 at-bats before his massive fourth inning home run against Ricky Nolasco, which drove in Matt Carpenter and was a resounding moment in reviving a Cardinal offense that seemed to be on the verge of an early hibernation for a second year in a row.

The motivation of this big statement was very familiar, because it was the same thing his Game 4 home run in Pittsburgh did just last week. With the Cardinals on the brink of elimination, he provided the support to make Michael Wacha’s masterful performance stand up, via a two-run seventh inning home run. And now, as a revived Cardinal team finds itself awakened and with three chances to advance itself to the World Series, the team’s fortunes have been pulled in place by the most incorrectly criticized player in recent Cardinal history.

The image of Holliday is tarnished by the shadows it stands in, as well as the image it is supported by. From day one, there was the idea that he was rental player, which cost the team too much to land (the now laughable expense of Brett Wallace and two other minor leaguers who never made it far). Yet in his first postseason, it was one dropped fly ball in Game four of the NLDS during the Cardinals last October trip to Los Angeles which remains the highlight of his first campaign in St. Louis. Much more than the .353 average he hit once coming over from Oakland which provided much needed non-Pujols created offense and helped the team win the NL Central by a runaway 7.5 games.

He was John Mozeliak’s first blockbuster acquisition, as well as his first big dollar contract dealt out. The purpose of Holliday’s acquisition was to be the second half of a potent heart of the lineup along with Pujols, but to also be security in case he was not able to be retained. Ultimately, the latter became reality, albeit after the Cardinals won a World Series in a season where Holliday put up a .296 average, All-Star effort. At this point Holliday replaced the then irreplaceable hitting third in the Cardinal lineup. But he also carried the tag of being the “highest paid player in Cardinal history”, which became more curse than reward in the court of public opinion. This was fueled by his pay grade was not deemed as necessary stroke of foresight, but rather being a prime reason why Pujols couldn’t stay, for financial reasons.

Holliday’s career thus far has been better than it has been bad. In St. Louis, his career numbers during the regular season have been the most consistent of any player on the team during his four-year tenure, averaging .306/23/90 split as a Cardinal. Despite the notion of not being “clutch”, he turned in a .390 average with runners in scoring position this season, which increased to .426 in same scenario, but with two outs.

Those numbers are a pretty fair regular read out of his “clutch” tendencies, as well as a showing of regular value.

However, the postseason struggles have happened and cannot be denied. A team needs its power conduit to be churning at the highest points of the year, and Holliday has let the club down in those scenarios over the past two years. In most situations, a season is not made by the moment, but the postseason is an exceptional time, and the same rules do not apply. While consistency is still not his ally this October, he has made amends in many regards by showing up when most needed. And that is not a presence that should be glazed over lightly, even if that has been the trend for many of his greatest contributions thus far.

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Triple Play: Mike Trout, Joe Mauer, Todd Helton

In this week’s Triple Play, we look at the best all-around player in baseball, the best rookie in baseball, a retiring Rockie, and more (including our weekly Wainwright Walk Watch). Let’s dive in:

MikeTrout

Who’s Hot?

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

It’s become a popular theme this month, how well Trout continues to hit while Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera struggles (mostly due to injury). Specifically, Trout has hit .356/.540/.489 in September; Cabrera has hit just .179/.343/.214. However, that narrow-minded view completely ignores just how good Trout has been throughout the whole season. Trout’s 1.029 OPS in September is only his fourth highest mark this season. After leading the American League in stolen bases, runs scored and OPS+ as a rookie in 2012, Trout has been even better this year. He again leads the AL in runs scored (103 entering Sunday), walks (99) and his OPS+ is 181. He already has exceeded 2012’s RBI total and is all but certain to better the 315 total bases from last year.

In a year that has seen most everything go wrong for the Angels (horrible pitching, career-worst season for Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton’s awful first year in LA), Trout has been the only thing to go right. For the second straight year, Trout is worth 10 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), the only player to do that since Barry Bonds. He might not win the MVP this year, but he probably should. The Angels have been so bad this year, Trout is about the only thing separating the Angels from being the Milwaukee Brewers or the Minnesota Twins.

Who’s Not?

Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

Speaking of the Twins, they were officially eliminated from the postseason over the weekend. Unofficially, they were eliminated on Easter. Mauer certainly did his part, compiling a .324/.404/.476 slash line. So why is he in this section? Because of the concussion symptoms from which he continues to suffer. The injury supposedly occurred on August 19, when he took several foul tips off his catcher’s mask. But when you’re a catcher, absorbing foul tips and assorted other punishment is all part of a day’s work. Who really knows when the injury happened? He started light workouts several days ago, only to have the symptoms return and he was sent home on September 11. Is there any benefit to have their homegrown star rush back to the field this season? Absolutely not. Further, if there is any team in the majors that should be extra careful when it comes to a superstar with a concussion, it’s the Twins. Justin Morneau’s concussion issues were such that he has never returned to his MVP-caliber level once he sustained his. Here’s hoping that he is able to recover during the offseason and return to Target Field fully healthy for the 2014 season.

Playing the Name Numbers Game

Here are some interesting numbers from the 2013 season (entering Sunday’s games):

Random Thoughts

  • Todd Helton told Troy Renck of The Denver Post on Saturday that he intends to retire after the 2013. “It just seems like it’s time,” Helton said. He is right. Although he reached the 2,500 hit mark, it has become clear that Father Time has caught up to the 40-year-old lifetime Rockie. The power is mostly gone, as is the bat speed that helped produce ten straight seasons with a park-adjusted OPS+ of at least 118. Helton’s slash line this year is just .244/.315/.408, with 13 homers, 52 RBI and 34 runs scored.
  • In his career, Helton sports a lifetime .317 average, .415 on-base percentage, .539 slugging percentage, 367 home runs, 1,397 RBI, and 1,394 runs scored.
  • According to the Post, those 1,394 runs scored represent eight percent of all the runs scored in Rockies franchise history.
  • Think about that for a moment.
  • Although he tarnished his name with the cement-headed decision to drive drunk earlier this year, Helton’s career will be defined by two iconic moments: 1) Sept. 18, 2007, a walkoff home run off Dodgers closer Takashi Saito that jumpstarted the improbable “Rocktober” run of 21 wins in 22 games, culminating in the team’s only World Series appearance; 2) the image of Helton exulting, fists and head lifted toward the sky as he caught the final out of the 2007 NLCS.
  • Helton probably could elect to continue his career as a reserve/DH, much in the way Jason Giambi has, but the Post story indicates that such an idea never seriously crossed his mind. Helton seems weary and ready to step away from the game. He is fortunate that he gets to do so on his own terms.
  • Five years from now, his Hall of Fame case will be a compelling one to watch.
  • In the short term, this is the best thing for the Rockies. His big salary comes off the books, they can shift Michael Cuddyer to first base and use those funds to bolster the ghastly middle relief.
  • Earlier this year, I wrote that the NL Rookie of the Year award was Yasiel Puig’s to lose. I was wrong. That award should go to Miami’s Jose Fernandez.
  • In his final start of the season last Wednesday, Fernandez shackled the division-leading Braves for seven innings, lowering his ERA to 2.19, with the 0.98 WHIP. His 5.8 H/9 and 9.7 K/9 are tops in the National League. Since his electric appearance at the All-Star Game, Fernandez seemed to get better each start. In his final 10 starts, he averaged seven innings per starts with 1.32 ERA, 84 whiffs, three homers allowed. A whopping 68% of his pitches were strikes and opposing hitters slugged a paltry .239. Here are some other numbers to chew on from his inaugural season in the big leagues:
  1. Surrendered more than five runs just twice in 27 starts
  2. 20 quality starts (at least 6 IP and less than 3 ER allowed)
  3. 10 home runs allowed in 172 2/3 innings pitched
  4. 187/58 strikeout-to-walk ratio
  5. Four starts in which he gave up two hits or less
  •  With apologies to Puig, Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, and Hyun-Jin Ryu (all of whom would be strong contenders in any other year), this is a no-brainer. Fernandez is the Rookie of the Year. In fact, you could make a reasonable argument for him to win the Cy Young Award ahead of Clayton Kershaw.
  • Wainwright Walk Watch: Once Adam Wainwright started the 2013 season by pitching 37 innings before allowing his first walk of the season, we started a weekly tracker to keep track of how few free passes the Cardinals’ ace hands out this season. He has led the majors in strikeout-to-walk ratio all season, and it hasn’t been close. Last Friday, Wainwright spun another gem, an eight-inning, six-hit, one-run performance against Seattle (he did not factor in the decision). The outing lowered his ERA back below 3.00 (2.96), and his WHIP is down to 1.069. He has a 16-9 record, with 201 strikeouts and 33 walks. Although his K/BB ratio remains sterling at 6.09-to-1, he no longer leads the majors in that category. That honor now belongs to Matt Harvey (6.16). Wainwright likely has three more starts this season to raise that ratio and a favorable schedule in which to do so.
  • Which is more surprising, that the Kansas City Royals remain in the wild-card hunt on September 16, or that the Washington Nationals have crept to within four games of the Cincinnati Reds for the 2nd wild-card spot in the NL?
  • Texas’ Yu Darvish became the fourth pitcher in modern era to strike out at least 250 batters in his first two major-league seasons. The others: Herb Score, Dwight Gooden and Tim Lincecum. He has 12 starts this year in which he has fanned 10 or more batters.
  • Darvish has four 1-0 losses this year, including his past two decisions. Three of those losses have been at home, which is mind-boggling, given the hitters’ paradise in which the Rangers play.
  • Last Monday (Sept. 9), Darvish lost to Pittsburgh’s 23-year-old Gerrit Cole. Saturday, he lost to 40-year-old Bartolo Colon.
  • Saturday was the sixth time Colon did not allow a run in one of his starts.
  • The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw has done that eight times this season.
  • Raise your hand if you foresaw Ubaldo Jimenez stepping up to become the Indians’ stopper with Justin Masterson on the disabled list.
  • I wonder if Jimenez would be this effective if he were still pitching for the Rockies.
  • News: Dodgers allow 19 runs to the archrival Giants, the most the team has ever surrendered ever at Dodger Stadium. Views: San Francisco can celebrate that feat while watching Los Angeles play October baseball.
  • In news sure to enrage Crazy Brian Kenny: Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka wins his 25th straight start. He has won all 21 starts this season, plus his last four in 2012. Obviously, Japanese statistics do not count in the US, but 25 consecutive wins beats the major-league record of 24 straight starts without a loss set by Carl Hubbell in 1936-37.
  • At 24, Tanaka is a prime candidate to pitch in the majors in the next couple years.
  • Hopefully, Kenny will have to address this news on air.
  • We end this week with a feat achieved only once in baseball history: on September 14, 1990, the Mariners’ Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. became the only father-son duo to club home runs in the same game (off Kirk McCaskill of the then California Angels). Not only that, they did it back-to-back. The elder Griffey was 40, Junior was 20. Both teams finished below .500, out of the playoff picture. But, as is the greatest thing about baseball, history can happen at any time.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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Flopps: The 8 Bit Baseball Card

I am a sucker for this stuff, I admit.

Flopps

Craig Robinson is the author behind one of the best infographic style books I have ever read, Flip Flop Fly Ball.  Where the book left off, the website took over.

Craig continues his great work over at his site keeping track of what hat he wears everyday and all kinds of graphically represented statistical anomalies.  We’ve featured some of that work here on i70 before, bring you galleries of his Lego Baseball Players and his infographic on Albert Pujols.  Just last week we brought you other 8-bit baseball players from another site.

Today we bring you a sampling of Craig’s newest creation, Flopps.  The Flip Flop Fly Ball baseball cards dedicated to all things baseball.  Browse the images in the slideshow below and then head on over to the site to see the entire collection.  (Don’t miss the Steve Bartman card below)

Use the “next” and “previous” buttons below the slides to browse through all the images.

Albert Pujols

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Albert Pujols is one of the greatest hitters in recent memory. Perhaps he will forever be remembered as he is depicted here, in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform.

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Jack Clark Says Albert Pujols Juiced

It sure didn’t take long for Kevin Slaten and Jack Clark to open up the doors to controversy on the new 920 AM.

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The subject of performance enhancing drugs is clogging sports talk radio, and for good reason.  The Biogenesis scandal has brought it back to the forefront of everyone’s mind.  When Kevin Slaten brought it up on the air and suggested that he always suspected Albert Pujols of using, Jack Clark was quick to jump in with his thoughts.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch broke the story this morning and you can read Dan Caesar’s take by clicking here.

Clark states that Pujols former trainer, Chris Mihlfeld, offered to provide Clark with steroids as a part of his exercise routine.  Mihlfeld went on to explain how well it was working for Pujols, whom he had been working with since college and projected to be a “big star” someday.

Is this shocking to anyone?  I mean, we all want Pujols to have played a clean game over the years and believe that he was the super-human he portrayed to be early on in his career, but are we sticking our collective heads in the sand?

I can recall Pujols final season here in St. Louis.  In June of that year, he broke his arm in a play at first base.  We we warned that he would miss time and that he would take some time to rebuild his strength based on the type of injury .  It would cause a good portion of his season to be a struggle.  He was slated to miss 4-to-6 weeks with the injury but i70baseball’s Mike Metzger noted in this article that he recovered in just over two weeks, referring to his recovery as much quicker than that of a “mere mortal”.

Pujols did some amazing things while he was in St. Louis and I sincerely hope he did them the right way.  He was exemplary on and off the field.  He was a childhood hero to many fans.

Say it ain’t so, Albert.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
He is a freelance writer that publishes work for InsideStl and Yahoo Contributor Network as well.
Follow him on Twitter.

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Life Without Yadi, Berkman’s Future, And A Historical Week

Last night, I took my place at the microphone for the UCB Radio broadcast and spent a half an hour talking baseball to the masses.

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If you missed it, I discussed concerns of life without Yadier Molina behind the plate and why I think the injury is worse than what the Cardinals are letting on.  I took a look into the future for Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols and the injuries the two former Cardinals are dealing with.  I spoke briefly on the Alex Rodriguez and Biogenesis situation and how it could impact labor relations if Bud Selig is not careful.  I also took a look into a historical situation that the Cardinals may be able to dubiously achieve later today.

If you missed the episode, you can listen live online by clicking this link.

Join me live next Wednesday night at 10 p.m. as I will once again host the show as we start the stretch run.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can talk baseball with him on Twitter or read more of his St. Louis Cardinals analysis on Yahoo!.

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Triple Play: Second half predictions edition

The All-Star break is in the rear view mirror and trade rumors are heating up. This week’s edition of the Triple Play is a change-up: instead of looking back at the previous week, we look ahead and make some predictions for the rest of the season (we didn’t want to feel left out since everyone else is doing it!). Without further adieu:

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Who’s Hot – Award Predictions

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit. Not exactly going out on a limb here, I know. But the man just keeps getting better and better. The likelihood of him continuing to do what he is doing is greater than Chris Davis. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Mike Trout also is having a better season than in 2012, but he will probably be hurt in the voting by the Angels’ disappointing season.

NL MVP: Yadier Molina, St. Louis. Cardinals fans have learned that John Mozeliak was right when he called Molina the heart and soul of the team (and NOT Albert Pujols). This is the year that Yadi finally gets the proper recognition as not only the best all-around catcher in baseball, but one of the best players, period.

AL Cy Young: Yu Darvish, Texas. He might only be on pace to win 14 games, but he is also on track for over 250 strikeouts with a WHIP barely above 1.00. I believe Max Scherzer is due for a little regression, leaving Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale as Darvish’s primary challengers.

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles. Kershaw will outduel Adam Wainwright and Matt Harvey to win his second Cy. Harvey will tire down the stretch and Wainwright will be a runner-up again, despite having better peripheral stats.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jose Iglesias, Boston. Compared to the class of rookies in the NL, the AL group is quite weak. Oakland’s Dan Straily will finish the season with a better case to be the ROY, but Iglesias will benefit from the east coast publicity to win the award.

NL Rookie of the Year: Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles. Look at the rookies in the NL this year: Shelby Miller, Jose Fernandez, Evan Gattis, Trevor Rosenthal, Jedd Gyorko, Julio Teheran, Hyun-Jin Ryu. Every one of them would have a stronger case than the AL nominees. Miller and Fernandez are budding aces and were the front-runners before Puigmania swept across the NL. The award is his to lose.

AL Division Winners: Boston, Detroit, Texas

AL Wild Cards: Tampa Bay, Oakland

NL Division Winners: Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles

NL Wild Cards: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati

Playing the Trade Deadline Game

  • Besides Matt Garza, who is the biggest pitching prize available? Ricky Nolasco and Scott Feldman have already been dealt. Evidently, Philadelphia isn’t trading Cliff Lee. That leaves Jake Peavy, who could be a nice piece for a contender (as previously noted in this column). Yovani Gallardo and Bud Norris also have drawn interest, but are they difference makers? The Royals have some intriguing arms, but have shown no inclination to deal them. There had been rumors about the Giants trading Tim Lincecum, but that seems highly unlikely following his no-hitter. Teams should run the other way if the Padres make Jason Marquis or Edinson Volquez available.
  • Ultimately, I think Garza still goes to the Rangers.
  • Peavy is a little more difficult to guess. MLB Trade Rumors reported over the weekend that at least half a dozen teams were scouting Peavy’s start Saturday. He is under contract for 2014, so he wouldn’t be strictly a rental. That explains the heavy interest.
  • To me, Arizona would be an ideal fit for Peavy or Gallardo, but I haven’t seen any reports of the D-backs having any interest. To be sure, Peavy would benefit from a trade to the NL.
  • Gallardo would be a consolation prize for teams missing out on Garza and Peavy.
  • The market for hitters still seems fuzzy, but it appears that the Pirates have feelers out all over the place. The Alex Rios/Alexei Ramirez rumor is certainly intriguing in that it would allow them to upgrade two positions in the lineup. Pittsburgh has young pitching and outfielders to trade. This is a rumor that makes so much sense for both sides that it needs to happen ASAP.
  • Hunter Pence is another player whose name has come up recently, but it would really make no sense for the Giants to trade him. They can barely score runs WITH him in the lineup behind Buster Posey.
  • Jason Kubel has had a pretty lousy season so far, but this is a guy who smacked 30 homers last year. With Adam Eaton back, Arizona would love to trade him for a pitcher. Hello, San Francisco?
  • Aramis Ramirez is another veteran hitter who could be dealt if he can prove himself healthy between now and the trade deadline. I’ve got to believe he would be of interest to the Yankees and Red Sox.
  • Speaking of those teams, I don’t understand their interest in Michael Young. He’s 36, he doesn’t hit much anymore (.288/.345/.421, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 37 runs) and he’s an abominable fielder. His Offensive WAR rating of 1.3 is almost totally offset by his -1.2 defensive WAR figure, making him nothing more than an average player at best. Is it the whole “classy” thing? I thought that had been put to rest years ago; his history of pouting and arguing with team management has been well-documented. So why all the interest? In my opinion, Ramirez would be a much better target, as would San Diego’s Chase Headley.
  • It would be a shame if Baltimore really is “tapped out” financially and can’t make a move to bolster their pitching staff. The Orioles would be much more fun to watch in October than Boston, Detroit or Texas (to this writer, anyway).
  • Asdrubal Cabrera’s name has been linked to the Cardinals again. In the offseason, a Cabrera for Matt Carpenter/Lance Lynn/plus a prospect deal was rumored. After the season Carpenter has had, I’m 99.99% certain the Cardinals wouldn’t trade Carpenter straight up for Cabrera.
  • I think the Tigers will trade for Francisco Rodriguez to fill their closer spot.
  • I also think K-Rod will made some fans (and maybe even Jim Leyland) occasionally pine for Jose Valverde.

Random Thoughts

  • Wainwright Walk Watch: Adam Wainwright pitched 37 innings this season before walking his first batter, so we are keeping track of how few free passes the Cardinals’ ace issues throughout the season. Following his start Sunday against the Padres, Wainwright has walked just 17 hitters while fanning 137, good for an 8-to-1 K/BB ratio, best in the majors among starting pitchers. The ratio has come down noticeably in recent weeks, but Wainwright still has not walked more than two batters in any start this season. He is now 13-5 with a 2.44 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.
  • Thanks to the two walks yesterday, Wainwright is no longer the starter who has walked the fewest batters. That distinction now belongs to Bartolo Colon, who walked just 16 hitters (including one in Sunday’s complete-game shutout of the Angels).
  • The 40-year-old Colon (doesn’t that sound like a bad comedy routine?) has three shutouts this season, and 12 in his career. He is 10-1 with a 1.46 ERA. His 1.113 WHIP would be the lowest of his career.
  • Erik Bedard’s pitching line Saturday: 6 1/3 IP, 0 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 10 K. He was charged with the loss. Here are some interesting notes about that game:
    • According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was just the second time in the Live Ball Era that a pitcher allowed three or more runs while not allowing a hit in six or more innings. The other time was the Yankees’ Andy Hawkins in 1990 versus the White Sox.
    • Seattle scored two unearned runs in the sixth thanks to three walks, two passed balls and a sacrifice fly. Talk about ugly baseball.
  • Speaking of Bedard, here’s a stupefying stat about him over the weekend: in 207 career starts going back to 2002, Bedard has tossed eight innings just 10 times (hat tip to Billy-Ball). Wainwright has gone at least eight innings eight times this season.
  • Bedard has a grand total of one complete game. One.
  • In short, I’m guessing Astros manager Bo Porter wasn’t too surprised when Bedard took himself out of the game Saturday night. After the game, Bedard said this to reporters: “I’ve had three shoulder surgeries. I’m not going over 110 (pitches). I’d rather pitch a couple more years than face another batter.”
  • Erik Bedard has made at least $27 million in his playing career. He has never once made the playoffs. I wonder why.
  • News: Clay Buchholz is planning to visit Dr. James Andrews. Views: Uh oh.
  • Mariners shortstop Brad Miller bashed two home runs with five RBI Friday night. Brendan Ryan, who started at short on Opening Day for Seattle, has hit three home runs and driven in 17 – in 255 plate appearances.
  • Once upon a time, Hanley Ramirez was a Top 5 fantasy performer. He’s been reminding folks of that ability since returning from the DL: .392/.445/.721 going into Monday’s games, to go with 10 HR, 31 RBI, 29 runs and five steals (in 155 plate appearances). Puig is getting most of the headlines, but HanRam has been just as valuable to the resurgent Dodgers.
  • Good news: Matt Kemp returns from the DL and belts a home run and a double. Bad news: he left the game after twisting his ankle sliding into home in the ninth inning.
  • Great one-liner from the Denver Post’s Troy Renck: “Chris Carpenter is harder to kill than Jason Bourne.”
  • Alex Rodriguez isn’t going to be back Monday after all? Whatever will the New York media do for its daily dose of sanctimonious soapbox screeching?
  • The Numbskull of the Day Award goes to Jose Reyes, who was plunked by an off-target pickoff throw at first base by Rays pitcher Chris Archer. Reyes was not wearing a protective cup at the time.
  • Has Sunday night’s Yankees-Red Sox game ended yet?
  • I did a double-take at this minor-league transaction: Left-handed pitcher Jason Lane signs with Padres, assigned to Triple-A Tucson. No big deal, you say. Except that it’s the same Jason Lane who played outfield for the Astros and Padres between 2002-07. He’s now 36. Could we be looking at Rick Ankiel Part II?
  • Miami hasn’t scored a run in 37 innings. That’s a club record, as well as the longest drought by a major league team in 28 years. The Houston Astros were held scoreless for 42 consecutive innings in July 1985. The Marlins haven’t scored since the fourth inning of a game against the Nationals on July 14.
  • Fortunately for them, the Rockies are next on the schedule, so the dry spell should come to an end in fairly short order.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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Yahoo: Albert Pujols Deserves Respect

I am well aware that the headline to this article puts me in the minority and will cause me to face the ire of Cardinal Nation, but I cannot help it.

AlbertPujols9

I wrote over at Yahoo! tonight about the facts behind my standpoint that Albert Pujols deserves respect from Cardinal fans.

He gave the St. Louis Cardinals, their fans, and myself 11 years of amazing baseball memories.  Meanwhile, he made one bad choice – to leave the team.

I don’t feel the choice outweighs the memories.

There was a commercial that aired a few years back that pointed out that the generation of fans before myself got to watch Bob Gibson pitch, Lou Brock run, and Ozzie Smith field.  My generation?  We got to watch Pujols do…everything.

That’s the player he was.  Dominant, game changing, something never seen before, and the guy that you knew could do something you never thought possible on any given day.

Fans will react in many different ways when the see Albert on their screens this week wearing a uniform other than a Cardinals one in a game the Cardinals are a part of.  Some will shrug it off.  Some will be full of hatred and spit whatever vile phrases that come to mind.

I’ll choose to take a page from Jack Buck.

Pardon me while I stand and applaud.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can follow him on Twitter by 
clicking here.

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Triple Play: Evan Longoria, Carlos Beltran, Texas Rangers

Welcome to a Father’s Day edition of the Triple Play. This week, we take a closer look at a first-time dad on a hot streak, a team that has picked a bad time to slump, and our weekly Wainwright Walk Watch. Off we go:

EvanLongoria

Who’s Hot?

Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

Longoria, who became a father a few months ago, is on an impressive hot streak. In the past two weeks, the Rays’ leader has slugged five homers, driven in 11, scored 9 runs and batted .333/.375/.725. For the season, Longoria has accumulated 14 home runs, 42 RBI, 46 runs scored, putting him on pace for over 30 home runs, 100 RBI and 100 runs scored – elite numbers from one of the best third basemen in baseball. Thus far, Longoria is slugging a career-best .556, and his park-adjusted OPS+ is a career-best 155. What’s even more impressive is that he has been on this tear while dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot (that same injury has nagged at Albert Pujols for years), which has limited Longoria to designated hitter duties this past weekend. After enduring an injury-shortened 2012, fantasy owners are hoping that the foot pain doesn’t send Longoria back to the disabled list. There was some good news Sunday for Longoria owners (and, really, all fantasy owners): top prospect Wil Myers is finally being called up, presumably to play every day for the Rays. Adding one of the top five hitting prospects in the game should bolster a Tampa Bay lineup that has had trouble scoring runs at times this season. Longoria should see a benefit regardless of whether Myers ends up batting before or after the Rays third baseman.

Who’s Not?

Texas Rangers

How do you know your team has issues? When they’ve been swept by the Toronto Blue Jays. At home. In a four-game series. Outscored 24-4. Shut down by a pitcher who is on his third organization in the past year. That pretty much sums up where the Rangers are after this past weekend. Only a father could love this team right now. Sunday’s loss to Toronto was the Rangers’ sixth loss in a row – all at home. It’s a team-wide slump. A starting pitcher hasn’t won a game since Derek Holland (who was knocked around by the Jays on Sunday) was credited with a win on May 31. Yu Darvish has continued to pitch well, but he hasn’t won a game since May 16. In June, the team is slugging a ghastly .359, with 39 runs scored in 15 games. The team desperately misses first baseman Mitch Moreland, who was hitting .288/.338/.561 with 12 homers and 29 RBI when he was injured. Primary DH Lance Berkman, so good in April, is mired in an awful June, batting just .182/.294/.250 with one home run. Left fielder David Murphy, who was touted by a national baseball writer just last week for always being a “tough out,” has actually been one of the easiest outs in the lineup this month (.143/.250/.265, one home run). Now that the Blue Jays are headed out of town, the Rangers can look forward to their next opponent: red-hot division rival Oakland, which has surged into the division lead during the Rangers’ skid. When the Athletics last visited Texas (just before Memorial Day), Oakland took two of three, but still trailed the Rangers by 5 ½ games. Things will be a little more urgent for the home team this time around.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: .232/.286/.357, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 5 SB, 27 runs
Player B: .284/.341/.346, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, 8 runs

Player A is Josh Rutledge, recently called back up by the Rockies following the injury to Troy Tulowitzki (more on him below). Player B is utility infielder Jonathan Herrera. Both players have started at shortstop for Colorado since Tulo’s injury. Suffice it to say that they eagerly await the return of their MVP-caliber shortstop.

Player A: 1-1, 6.25 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 24 Ks
Player B: 3-7, 3.79 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 72 Ks

Player A is Matt Garza of the Cubs. Player B is Miami’s Ricky Nolasco. Garza’s stats aren’t very pretty in his five starts since being activated from the DL, but he spun seven shutout innings Sunday against the Mets. Nolasco’s game Sunday was a little more impressive, holding the powerful Cardinal lineup to one run over seven innings to pick up the win. Both pitchers are expected to be dealt before the July 31 deadline. Both pitchers would provide a boost to a pitching-needy team in the playoff hunt (Rockies, Padres, Giants, Yankees, Orioles, Pirates, Diamondbacks). Which pitcher gets traded first? Or will Cliff Lee be dealt before either?

Random Thoughts

  • Wainwright Walk Watch: Adam Wainwright pitched 37 consecutive innings before issuing his first walk of the season. All season long, we are keeping track of how few free passes are handed out by the Cardinals’ ace. After 14 starts, Wainwright has walked nine batters in 103 innings (two intentionally). Twice, he has walked two batters in a start. Each of those games included an intentional walk and the following batter was retired. Those two IBBs have dropped his K/BB ratio a bit, but at almost 11-to-1, he still leads the National League.
  • Thursday, June 13. That’s the date that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki landed on the disabled list after diving for a routine ground ball and breaking a rib. It’s also the date the Rockies will point to as the date the season fell apart. Or will it be the date that they galvanized themselves to overcome the latest injury to their team leader? Rockies management has raved about the leadership skills of rookie manager Walt Weiss – here is his first big test.
  • Carlos Beltran, 2012: 32 HR, 97 RBI, 83 runs, .842 OPS. 2013: 16 HR, 44 RBI, 34 runs, .889 OPS. If there has been a bigger bargain free-agent signing the past several years, I don’t know who it is.
  • Don’t look now, but the San Diego Padres are above .500 for the first time since the final day of the 2010 season. If Chase Headley ever gets it going, the Padres could challenge for the NL West title.
  • Congratulations to Zack Greinke, who successfully made it through an outing without plunking an opposing batter, being plunked himself, or being body slammed to the field.
  • News: Yovani Gallardo and three relievers combine on Milwaukee’s first shutout of the season Saturday night. Views: the fact that the Marlins, Mets, Astros and Rockies all tossed shutouts before the Brewers this year tells you all you need to know about how hideous their pitching staff is.
  • I know Albert Pujols isn’t the same guy he was when he was with the Cardinals, come on now. Bottom of the 9th, bases loaded, facing Mariano Rivera – that was still must-see TV.
  • Here’s hoping that Rays starter Alex Cobb is able to come back with no ill effects from the line drive that struck him in the head Saturday. It was reported that the ball’s velocity at impact was 102 mph. Absolutely terrifying.
  • Finally, on this day after Father’s Day, a personal note: over the weekend, I played catch with my kids, who are 12 and 10. You always see fathers playing catch with their sons in the movies, but I’m here to tell you that it is every bit as great with daughters.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

Posted in Cardinals, I-70 Baseball Exclusives, RoyalsComments (0)

The Great Matt Holliday Debate (with myself)

I have always been flummoxed by Matt Holliday.

MLB Chicago vs St. Louis

On one hand, there are the numbers. Those numbers tell me things like this: Holliday has compiled a park-adjusted OPS+ greater than 120 every season he has played since 2006. His average OPS+ of 137 is 12th among active players. In his 10-year career, Holliday has averaged 29 home runs, 109 RBI, 107 runs scored, and a .533 slugging average.

Statistical comparisons at Baseball-Reference list the following players as comparable to Holliday: Larry Walker, Lance Berkman, Fred Lynn, Bernie Williams, Hack Wilson. Pretty good company, no?

He has played over 150 games five times and is on pace to do it again – at age 33, when many players start to break down. But day in and day out, he’s out there, a reliable rock in the lineup for one of the better teams in baseball. Just this past Sunday night, he belted a grand slam in extra innings to help boost the Cardinals to a big win over Cincinnati.

When Albert Pujols left St. Louis after the 2011 World Championship season, the role of 3-hole hitter passed to Holliday. While he did not replicate Pujols’ numbers (and was not expected to), his usual numbers were right on target by season’s end. He was not out of place in that spot in the order.

In 2012, he hit the longest recorded home run at Busch Stadium III, a towering blast that sailed past the “Big Mac Land” sign into the second deck in left field. The bomb was estimated at 469 feet and was determined to be the fifth-longest home run hit by anyone the entire season. In August of that season, he got his 1,500 career hit.

The man has been consistently productive. In 2013, he is on pace for 24 homers, 90 RBI, 112 runs scored and a park-adjusted OPS+ of 119. Still an above-average hitter.

That’s Matt Holliday – on one hand.

On the other hand, Matt Holliday is, without a doubt, one of the most infuriating players I have ever watched in my entire life.

MattHollidayDodgerCatchRemember the fly ball to the, ahem, midsection in the 2009 Division Series against the Dodgers? That still image of the ball squirting free instead of being the game-clinching out that would have tied the series 1-1? Oh, I still get agitated thinking about that one. I know, I know. It was several batters later that the Dodgers actually won the game, but that hideous error opened the floodgates nonetheless.

How about the botched pop-up in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series? Or getting picked off third base later in that same game? Gah! There was a bright side to the pickoff incident – he exited the game and set the stage for Allen Craig’s heroics later in Game 6 and again in Game 7. To this day, I remain convinced that the Rangers win the World Series in St. Louis if Holliday had stayed in the game. So I can let that one go much easier than 2009.

In last season’s NLCS, Holliday was Public Enemy #1 in San Francisco. His takeout slide against Marco Scutaro energized the listless Giants and they rallied to win Game 2 of the NLCS at home (thanks in no small part to another fielding error by Holliday). By the way, it was Scutaro who hit the ball that Holliday butchered, leading to a bases-clearing double. Karma came around in a BIG way that day.

Heck, Holliday even booted his first chance in the field, as a rookie left fielder for the Rockies in 2004 (in St. Louis, ironically). Watching him in the field was reminiscent of another Rockies left fielder, Dante Bichette. He was a productive hitter, at home mostly, and a butcher in the field. Some Rockies fans referred to him as “Skates” Bichette because his footwork often resembled an uncoordinated roller skater. The nickname suited Holliday as well. Every fly ball was an adventure.

His swing has never been described as a thing of beauty, either. The contrast between Pujols and Holliday in the 2009-11 seasons was fascinating. After watching watched Pujols’ balanced, powerful stroke, with that beautiful follow-through, Holliday’s violent, twisting swing would almost looked like he was throwing the bat at the ball, hoping to make contact. And some of the at-bats he takes….good grief, are they ever horrible. How many times over the years does it seem as though Holliday comes to the plate with runners in scoring position and the Cardinals in need of a run, and he grounds into an inning-ending double play or tap weakly to the pitcher? So frustrating (but to be fair, probably no more frequently than with any other player).

Even his baserunning wasn’t immune. Although he was a quarterback in high school in Oklahoma, he often ran the bases like a linebacker lumbering after a runaway QB. Rockies fans will forever remember his game-winning slide to end the 2007 play-in game against the Padres. His faceplant in the Coors Field dirt left a nasty red raspberry on his chin (and became a running joke the following season, when he lampooned it in a team commercial). You can still find Padres fans who insist Holliday never touched the plate on his “slide.” It became part of Holliday’s legend: the man could hit, but as a fielder and runner, well, he was a heck of a hitter.

After Holliday hired Scott Boras as his agent, it became apparent that the penny-pinching ownership of the Rockies were not interested in paying market price to keep him. Instead, they began quietly bad-mouthing Holliday to certain local media members who served as team mouthpieces. Before the 2009 season, Holliday was dealt to Oakland for a package of players that included Carlos Gonzalez. Then, at the trading deadline, the A’s flipped Holliday to the Cardinals. Like so many trade acquisitions before him, Holliday was sensational in his initial stint in a Cardinal uniform. Well, until that NLDS Game 2 disaster. That left a bitter taste in many a fan’s mouth (myself included, as I have mentioned).

Was Holliday worth the $100 million-plus contract Boras was demanding? Pujols was due to be a free after the 2011 season, and Adam Wainwright’s free agency loomed on the horizon as well. How would the Cardinals afford those guys if they gave a nine-figure deal to a guy who would probably end up as a DH? Many people (me included) had to pick up their jaws off the floor when the Cardinals signed him to a seven-year, $120 million deal. He’s not worth that much, I remember saying to anyone who would listen. They’ll regret this deal. Are they (Cardinals management) really ready to hitch their wagon to Holliday instead of Pujols?

We know how that one turned out, but I’ll get back to that in a moment.

As a teammate, I have never read or heard anything negative about Holliday. The Rockies’ attempted character assassination prior to trading Holliday failed. Instead, they came out looking like petty cheapskates who were afraid of Scott Boras. Through all the costly fielding blunders, Holliday’s teammates have defended him vigorously. Holliday drew the wrath of Giants fans (and a couple of blabbermouth ex-players like Will Clark), but Scutaro himself never spoke an angry word to the media about Holliday. He reminds me of Darryl Kile in the way he seems to be universally liked and respected by his peers. Holliday, meanwhile, quietly spoke after the game about how he has never intentionally injured someone and he expressed repeatedly expressed regret. As it turned out, Holliday had far more serious issues weighing on him at that moment.

In May, an article on MLB.com appeared about Kathy Holliday, Matt’s mother, being diagnosed with colon cancer in October 2012. The story (which was marvelously written by Jenifer Langosch) detailed how Matt got the MattHollidayAndMomphone call while the Cardinals were battling Washington in the Division Series. While the Cardinals were playing the Giants in the NLCS, Holliday was also dealing with what must have been agonizing fear for his mom’s health. I can tell you first-hand that that kind of worry can be paralyzing and all-encompassing. You see, during that same month, my wife underwent a double mastectomy due to breast cancer. There were days I was able to go to work and do my job reasonably well, but there were also others where I was understandably preoccupied and, therefore, unproductive. My job doesn’t involve anything approximating the pressure of October baseball. Holliday didn’t play very well, but in my mind, the fact that Holliday was able to take the field at all in front of millions of TV viewers is pretty damned remarkable.

Holliday was nominated by the Rockies in 2007 for the Roberto Clemente Award, given to a player who best exemplifies community involvement in addition to his contributions to his team (aside: Holliday was robbed of the MVP award that year). They don’t nominate jerks for that award. In addition to his charitable work in the Denver area, he has an extensive history of doing good things since moving to St. Louis, including Homers for Health (with teammate David Freese) in 2012, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and others. He doesn’t always come off well in TV interviews, but so what? Albert Pujols often looked like a surly drudge during interviews and few people cared about that. If Holliday treated fans or teammates that way, then it would bother me. So he doesn’t get enthused about yet another round of pre or post-game interviews; I probably wouldn’t, either. Big deal.

Let’s get back to some numbers: specifically, the $120 million-dollar contract Holliday signed before the 2010 season. After making $16.3 million in 2011-12, he will receive $17 million for the remaining five years. Let’s look at what Fangraphs has determined his actual value to be thus far:

• 2010: $25 million (158 games, 28 HR, 103 RBI, 95 runs, .312/.390/.532, 149 OPS+)
• 2011: $21.7 million (124 games, 22 HR, 75 RBI, 83 runs, .296/.388/.525, 151 OPS+)
• 2012: $20.9 million (157 games, 27 HR, 102 RBI, 95 runs, .295/.379/.497, 137 OPS+)

So, to answer my question from above: yes, team management knew what it was doing when they signed Holliday. The decision to let Pujols go a year later was a completely separate matter (and even more wisely handled). Holliday has been everything the Cardinals could have expected – a durable, productive player who handles himself with class on and off the field. In case you’re wondering, my choice at the time for an outfielder was Jason Bay. He had been traded from Pittsburgh to Boston at the 2008 trade deadline and put up a sensational 36-119-103 season with a 134 OPS+ for the Red Sox in 2009. I was convinced that he would come cheaper than Holliday, yet be nearly as productive. How’d that work out? Well, in his three years with the Mets, Bay was worth a COMBINED $2.8 million (including negative $4.4 million in 2012). Obviously, I was 100% wrong. But so were the Mets and many national baseball analysts, so that’s some consolation.

Compared to other sluggers (Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Ryan Howard), Holliday has been a bargain. Often, a bargain comes with some sort of caveat (“it wasn’t the exact color I wanted, but the price was so good”). With him, the caveat is that he will botch plays in the field or take a terrible at-bat at a bad time. But, as he has repeatedly proven over the years, he will deliver the numbers by season’s end. He is not irreplaceable, but he is reliable. In sports today, I think that’s good enough.

I wonder how much longer he can keep this up. Time will tell, of course, but he has already defied my expectations. As for the rest of it, I am no longer flummoxed. Maybe it’s because of that ugly C-word that was affecting his personal life and mine at the same time. Maybe he’s the same person/player he has always been and it’s me who has changed. I don’t know. Whatever the case, I have gradually become a fan of Matt Holliday, as a player, but even more so as a person. I reserve the right to mutter a profanity or two when he makes a bad error or bounces into a rally-killing double play, but I would do that regardless of the player. He’s become one of the guys I root for, instead of that guy who plays with the guys I root for. And the best part (at least to me)?

His mom is in remission, as is my wife. Maybe that’s all the reason I need.

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Triple Play: Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, CC Sabathia

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Triple Play. This week, we are discussing Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout (but not arguing about which one is better), CC Sabathia, D-backs rookie sensation Patrick Corbin and more. Off we go:

MiguelCabrera

Who’s Hot?

Is there anyone else we can put here besides Miguel Cabrera? We should just rename this section after Miggy. When Albert Pujols was at his best, Cabrera’s brilliance was a little underrated. No longer. The Tigers’ third baseman is in a class by himself as the most feared hitter in baseball. Entering Monday’s game against Pittsburgh (in which he went hitless and struck out three times), Cabrera had gone hitless twice in his previous 34 games. In the past week, Cabrera smashed another three home runs, drove in 10, scored seven runs and hit .364/.481/.818. He’s on pace for 47 home runs, 192 RBI (which would break Hack Wilson’s all-time record of 190), 138 runs scored, and a .384 batting average. Two months into the season, Cabrera leads all of baseball with a 3.1 WAR (Wins Above Replacement player) rating. In fact, Cabrera is on track to improve in all fantasy categories except steals, where he is a non-factor anyway. Some analysts are already asking whether Cabrera can repeat as the Triple Crown winner, even though two-thirds of the season remains. That’s a topic for another day. For now, all Tigers fans and fantasy owners can do is marvel at the greatness. The torch has been passed. Pujols used to be the game’s greatest hitter. Now it’s Miguel Cabrera’s turn.

Who’s Not?

Lately, CC Sabathia is about as cold as it gets. He has had a history of starting a season slowly, but usually as Memorial Day hits, he eases into a groove. Not this month. Sabathia is winless in his past five starts, and he hasn’t been fooling opposing hitters at all. He has allowed 79 hits in 72 2/3 innings, including 11 home runs. Sabathia told MLB.com that he was hurting the team after his May 26th start against Tampa Bay. Looking closer, he’s right: his ERA and WHIP ratios would be the worst he has posted since 2004, while his H/9 and HR/9 ratios are the worst of his career. But it’s not all bad news. He continues to average over six innings per start, which has him still on pace for 200 strikeouts and 13 wins. But for fantasy owners to see a fair return on their investment, he needs to improve on the ERA and WHIP categories. You really have to ride out this slump, though. Trading Sabathia now would be selling low and you will have a Grade A case of seller’s remorse if he follows his career path and pitches better as the weather gets warmer. If he is still pitching this inconsistently at the All-Star break, it truly will be time to worry.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: .385/.460/.677, 14 HR, 57 RBI, 41 runs, 1 SB
Player B: .302/.379/.564, 10 HR, 36 RBI, 39 runs, 12 SB

Player A is Miguel Cabrera. Player B is Mike Trout, who should not be forgotten when discussing players who are red hot. Entering Memorial Day, this is “all” Trout had done this month: eight home runs, four doubles, three triples, while driving in 20 runs, scoring 24 and stealing eight bases. Is it a coincidence that the Angels have won eight straight? I think not. Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Torii Hunter might make most of the cash, but Trout is the player that makes the Angels go. In his transcendent 2012 season, Trout hit 30 home runs and stole 49 bases. He is currently on pace to hit 32 bombs with 38 steals. The biggest difference is that Trout is on pace to drive in 33 more runs than 2012, which would actually make him a more valuable player for fantasy owners. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan had a fascinating note about Trout in his most recent column: at age 21, Trout has gotten a hit on 35% of curveballs at which he has swung, making him the best curveball hitter in the game. Tons of young hitters can punish fastballs and remain mystified for years by Uncle Charlie. Yet, in his second season, Trout has leaped that hurdle. Think about what he’ll be able to do by, say, age 25.

Player A: 3-5, 2.48 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 71 strikeouts
Player B: 8-0, 1.71 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 56 strikeouts

Player A is Stephen Strasburg. Player B is Diamondbacks’ starter Patrick Corbin. Obviously, Strasburg has pitched very well for Washington, but fantasy owners have been disappointed because the wins haven’t been there (thanks to poor run support and defensive lapses) and they used a high-draft pick or big auction dollars on the Nationals’ ace. Corbin, on the other hand, probably wasn’t drafted in your league unless it is a deep NL-only league. At 23, he is a year younger than Strasburg. He also has been the ace of Arizona’s staff so far in 2013. The secret to his success isn’t difficult: he has allowed only three home runs so far, and opponents are hitting .206 off him. He was particularly impressive on May 20, spinning a complete-game, three-hit shutout against the Rockies at Coors Field. He whiffed 10 Rockies that night, and they looked like a Double-A squad flailing away at Randy Johnson in his prime. He is not an overpowering pitcher, so he will not be able to sustain this level of dominance. Hey, just being realistic here. But the kid can flat-out deal. If you did take a flier on him late in your draft, or snapped him up off the waiver wire, then congratulations; your pitching staff is probably doing pretty well. The big question now is: do you keep him and bank on him to continue to be as good as Strasburg, or do you sell high to fill another hole on your team?

Random Thoughts

• Just when you think the Rockies might be turning a corner, they suffer a loss like Angel Pagan’s walkoff inside-the-park-home-run this past Saturday. The Rockies have a long history of letting painful losses like this affect them for days and it may be happening again: they dropped the finale of the series against the Giants on Sunday, then lost to the woeful Astros Monday night.
Carlos Gonzalez is doing all he can to prevent a tailspin, though. In the past two weeks, CarGo has tallied 6 homers, 13 RBI, 4 steals, 14 runs scored and a .333/.411/.784 batting line.
• Speaking of tailspins, remember that day – April 26, to be exact – when Yuniesky Betancourt batted cleanup while on a hot hitting streak? Yeah, no one else does either. In news that is sure to be reassuring to baseball fans everywhere (except maybe those who are stuck with Yuni on their fantasy teams), Betancourt has returned to his normal terrible self, wet-noodling his way to a .178 average in May.
• Brewers fans had to know going into 2013 that this would be a rebuilding season, but they couldn’t have expected them to be THIS bad. Without that nine-game winning streak, they would be in Astros/Marlins territory.
Cliff Lee 2012, meet Cole Hamels 2013. Cole, Cliff. You two have a lot in common.
• Just when the Yankees were welcoming Curtis Granderson back into the lineup, he gets injured again and they are forced to recall Brennan Boesch from Triple-A. In related news, Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman had to return his Mercedes to the dealership for additional repairs and received a Dodge Neon as a loaner vehicle.
• Wainwright Walk Watch: the Cardinals’ ace pitched 37 innings before walking his first batter and he has walked fewer batters than any other starter in major league baseball. Going into this week (in which he will start twice), he has a 69-6 K-to-BB ratio (11.50), which is far and away the best of any starter in either league.
• At the rate they’re losing starters to injury, the Cardinals may start wanting him to start 3-4 times a week. Rookie John Gast is the latest to visit the trainer’s office. They don’t want to rush prized pitching prospect Michael Wacha, but they may not have a choice.
• At this rate, the Rangers will be printing playoff tickets at the All-Star break. Starter Colby Lewis is on a rehab assignment,
• From the “Apropos of nothing, but still interesting” file: Joe Mauer has broken up three no-hitters in the 9th inning in his career. Could somebody ask Jack Morris if that is considered “hitting to the score?”
• Finally, on this Memorial Day weekend, a sincere thank-you to our men and women who serve our country in the armed forces or as first responders. Freedom is not free and we are able to devote our time and passion for baseball as a result of their actions and sacrifice. I am thankful for each and every one of them.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

Posted in Cardinals, Classic, I-70 Baseball Exclusives, RoyalsComments (0)

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