L.A. Angels’ Albert Pujols Contract is Nonsensical

It is amazing that as the NFL and NBA recently concluded labor disputes their popularity isn’t suffering as much as Major League Baseball; who are losing the youth demographic. The decision for L.A. Angels owner Artie Moreno to pay Albert Pujols two hundred fifty four million dollars over ten years is ludicrous and absurd. Say that again $254 million over 10 years.

There is speculation of what Pujols’ age really is.

In 2011, I am skeptical of this notion because data around the world are fairly transparent. If that were the case, the truth likely would have come to light by now. Even so, men of a certain age (shout out to Ray Ramano) will not produce more than in their prime without assistance from performance enhancing drugs.

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While Stl. Cardinals Fans Mourn, Did Albert Pujols Do Right Thing?

‘Whenever older sports fans are goaded into talking about the good old days, certain things will inevitably come up in the conversation. Whether it be something along the lines of “players used to play for the competition and the love of the game, not the money,” or “Dick Butkus killed a guy, and that’s real football”, these old school fans of the games we love have a certain moral ethic that they adhere to when it comes to their teams, and they expect their favorite players to follow suit.

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World Series to Determine Fair Value for Albert Pujols, Stl. Cardinals?

Shaun Marcum and Edwin Jackson struggled in their starts on Sunday night in the 2011 National League Championship Series. That was no surprise considering their previous track records. The eighteen total runs scored made the over betters elated in Las Vegas. Albert Pujols had a home run and two runs batted in for the Cardinals.

Pujols has an average of over four hundred in the postseason with an on base percentage of over .550. He is widely seen as the top hitter in the National League and is a quality teammate-citizen in the Midwest. His prowess at first base has really improved over the years due to his diligence. There is nothing negative that I can write about the man besides his age. The player on the wrong side of thirty probably has the best years behind him…if he is not taking supplements.

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Lance Berkman: The Feel Good Story of the First Half

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New York isn’t for everyone. Lance Berkman can certainly attest to that. He was shipped off to the Bronx last season and began his tenure as a reserve player. This simply didn’t suit the man who had been the face of the Houston Astros since the the days of the killer bees in Texas. Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell had a long run of success at Minute Maid Park, but Bagwell shouldered the load upon their departure.

It is no surprise that a Saint Louis Cardinal arguably has the best offensive statistics in the National League at the break. Fans would have thought that the name associated with those numbers would be Matt Holliday or Albert Pujols though. The latter has returned from his broken wrist extremely quickly and has the faithful with high hopes for the post break portion of the schedule.

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Sparky Anderson’s Special Day: Detroit Tigers Retire His Number

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In a gesture that is long overdue, the Detroit Tigers are scheduled to retire the number of managerial legend Sparky Anderson on Sunday prior to their game against Kirk Gibson’s Arizona Diamondbacks. It is not surprising that one of these teams is entering the season in first place, but the part that is shocking is that it is the club from Phoenix. They are really cashing in on the catastrophic demise of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their narrow lead over San Francisco does not mean that it is only a two team race. The Colorado Rockies have been known to make some late season runs throughout the last few years.

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Twins’ Gardenhire Should Take Notes From Cardinals’ LaRussa

I have thought for quite some time that Ron Gardenhire is in the top quartile of managers. His longevity is rare in the major leagues. He has the necessary knowledge to get the job done, and his players enjoy competing for him. The Minnesota Twins have stumbled out of the gate so far this season-losing two thirds of their games. It is not as bad as the Red Sox have done and is certainly no reason for alarm with the fans. However, it is time to reference Tony LaRussa.

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THE CASE FOR LARRY ROTHSCHILD

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By George Ofman

There is a hue and cry around Clark and Addison these days and it has nothing to do with wanting more rum at Captain Morgan’s. Many displeased Cubs fans want Lou Piniella to take a hike. They also want to sleep with the enemy. They desperately want to embrace the men who have had far more success several hundred miles south than those who have commanded their franchise for low these many eons.

They want Tony Larussa and his band of not so merry men. Yes, they want him even after the Cardinals were stunningly swept out of the playoffs by the Dodgers just the way their Cubs were the year before. Larussa may wind up staying put.  His pitching coach may have other ideas. Dave Duncan has been inexorably tied to Larussa like the far right is to Rush Limbaugh.

He’s been Larussa’s pitching coach since 1983 when they guided the White Sox to the playoffs. That’s 27 years though the count could end. Duncan is clearly miffed the Cardinals traded his son Chris to the Red Sox. Let’s assume Larussa stays and Duncan doesn’t. Should the Cubs go after him? He is considered one of the best in the business. The other question you must ask is; should the Cubs dump Larry Rothschild? I’ll ask this question; why would you want to fire Rothschild?cubs0814

Yes, he’s been a whipping boy of sorts particularly when he had his ailing pitchers whip a towel to get their act together. The infamous “towel drill” drew derision from skeptical fans and media alike. But take a closer look at Rothschild’s track record and you might determine he’s pretty good at what he does.

The Cubs pitching staff finished 5th in ERA in the majors for the second straight season. The fact they won 14 fewer games than last season is clearly based on their lack of hitting. They also had 93 quality starts, 2nd in the National League. Matter of fact, since Rothchild became the Cubs pitching coach in 2002, his staff has finished in the top 5 in ERA 5 times in 8 years! Duncan’s Cardinals have finished in the top 5 three times during that same span.

This doesn’t mean Rothschild is a better pitching coach. It doesn’t mean he’s worse, either. You could fault him for the antics displayed by Carlos Zambrano. Maybe Duncan could do a better job. Maybe a shrink could but you’d have to pay him overtime.
The last I looked, Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster’s numbers have improved dramatically. Lilly is 18 games over with an ERA of 3.7 since joining the Cubs. Prior to that he was one game over with an ERA of 4.6
Dempster went from Cubs closer to starter and over the past 2 seasons is 28 and 15 with an ERA of 3.3. During his years as a starter with and Marlins and Reds, Dempster went 50 and 55 with a rather hefty ERA of 5.01. Does Larry Rothschild get credit for this?
Does Rothchild deserve blame after Mark  (made of glass) Prior physically and mentally disintegrated?

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Does Rothschild deserve blame because Kerry Wood embraced the disabled list the way an alcoholic craved his next drink?
Maybe we should give Rothschild credit for resurrecting Wood into a pretty good closer in 2008. Maybe, just maybe, Rothschild is one of the Cubs most valuable assets. Pitching staffs don’t finish in the top in ERA 5 of 8 years through slight of arm.
Maybe, just maybe, The Cubs need a better bullpen and a manager who uses it wisely.

Maybe just maybe, the Cubs are better off leaving Rothschild right where he is. They have far greater issues to deal with.

St. Louis Cardinals Streaking!

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By Jake McCormick

Baseball is great because it can be so unpredictable, yet so easy to understand. Case in point: the St. Louis Cardinals and their past 18 games.

Ten days ago, the team was on the losing end of a sweep from the Brewers and had lost seven of nine games. Since that point, St. Louis did a Michael Jackson 180 and tallied a 7-2 record, including an always enjoyable sweep of the Chicago Cubs and a vindicated two out of three games against Milwaukee.

Considering the Cardinals had lost 10 out of 11 against the Brewers dating back to last year, the monkey was thrown from their backs. Now St. Louis hopes to carry that momentum over to Friday’s game against the San Francisco Giants.

Add in a healthy Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick, and the team has to feel good about leading a division rife with injuries among all contenders. Injuries are a part of the game obviously, but the number of bodies on the disabled list in the NL Central could fill a quality fantasy team. They piled up quicker than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s victims in the last half-hour of “Commando,” yet the April standings still made a strong case for the Central’s place as baseball’s toughest division.albert-pujols-homerun-diamondbacks

Tony La Russa has never been a conventional manager, frequently batting the pitcher eighth in the lineup and shuffling his lineup every day like it was an NBA draft simulation. But with Albert Pujols bodyguards Ryan Ludwick, Troy Glaus, and Rick Ankiel out of the daily lineup for the past week and a half, La Russa has been forced to play half of the Cardinals’ Triple A affiliate on a regular basis. Pujols only has 2 RBIs during the Cardinals hot streak, but has been guaranteed first base over 50 percent of his at bats- making him the new Barry Bonds, minus the arrogance, backne, and custom helmet that wouldn’t fit Darth Vader.

Because most news about Glaus this year has been negative, Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak has not denied a pre-emptive sweep of the trading market for third basemen. Colorado Rockie Garrett Atkins and Cleveland Indian Mark DeRosa would at least give the team a consistent all-around player at the hot corner.

As you would expect, replacements like Colby Rasmus, Joe Thurston, and Nick Stavinoha have filled their diapers to the brim for most of last week after some surprises from the rookies, including third baseman Brian Barden’s selection as the NL Rookie of the Month in April. I’m almost expecting Chris Duncan to walk into the batter’s box in a Green Ranger costume because of his lost power this month, and Yadier Molina has, at least temporarily, regained the form that left him undrafted in the 2006 fantasy season. Although the team has scored a deadball era 3.5 runs per game in May, the Cardinals have more than a few Huggies (codeword: pitching) in hand to make sure things stay relatively clean.dave_duncan

If a team’s pitching is great, it doesn’t matter if they score less than five runs a game. St. Louis scored more runs in its 8-1 victory over Milwaukee Tuesday than it has given up in the last nine games (seven). Tuesday’s victory was all the more significant considering it was against former Cardinal Jeff Suppan, who has been the Cardinals’ Officer Tenpenny (voiced by who else? Samuel L. Jackson) in Grand Theft Auto IV: San Andreas – nearly impossible to beat.
Chris Carpenter has yet to allow an earned run in four games and Adam Wainwright looks more and more like an ace with every start. Kyle Lohse and Joel Pineiro tend to be streaky. But Lohse continues to benefit from Dave Duncan’s powers to heal the proverbial lepers of pitching, and Pineiro has not allowed a walk or home run in his last four starts.

With Pineiro on the mound tonight, and Carpenter and Wainwright slotted for the final two games against the Giants’ resident batting practice pitcher Barry Zito and an underperforming Jonathan Sanchez, the Cardinals’ buzz should carry through the weekend like a Homecoming bender. In a pitcher-friendly ballpark with two sputtering offenses, pitching should be a deciding factor, and on paper the Cardinals can at least guarantee the computer simulations will fall in their favor.

What’s Brewing in ’09: Opening Week Woes, Cold Soup & Hot Hitting

By: Melissa Wollering


It wouldn’t be rivalry if there weren’t highlights and lowlights to the Brewers Opening home stand against the Cubs this past week.

 

 

     
Personal highlights include the first christening of my new handmade cornhole game with my little brother, having a Brewers fan tell me ‘that’s an impressive amount of liquor you brought for two people,’ a picture on the Warren Spahn plate near the outfield entrance in honor of the late Walter Wollering, and of course Rickie Weeks safe at the plate last Friday.


Plus, at 10:33 a.m. Opening Day, sitting in traffic backed up before the off-ramp to Miller Park Way, Bill Schroeder decided to get out of the vehicle dropping him off and walk the rest of the way to the press entrance.  First he came by our car, peeked in and asked, “What’s everybody waiting for?”
Personal lowlights include Suppan’s pitching, Vanillawafer’s pitching and the four male Cubs fans next to me calling me blondie and exiting from the middle of the row a combined 42 times in 9 innings while I’m trying to score the game in my new geekster Uecker-carbon-copied scorebook (made it myself).


Let’s go good, bad, ugly. Good is Mike Cameron snapping out of his – I need to speak with a psychologist after I fractured Joe Martinez’ scull three times – hitting slump.   Cameron returned to glory Wednesday with two solo home runs to help the Brewers actually win a game. He was freakin’ after leaving San Fran and probably needed to rid himself of nightmares before being able to smack the ball again.


Braden Looper may be the only Brewers starting pitcher who knows walking multiple batters is generally unfavorable in the game of baseball. Todd Coffey and Mark DiFelice were the only men who impressed me from the pen.  Maybe now that David Riske’s been put on the DL, lefty reliever R.J. Swindle can also contribute.  He was just brought up from AAA.  God knows we need Hoffman and fast. Hells Bells need to ring throughout Miller Park more than ever.

 
First however, Brewers bench coach and former Mets manager Willie Randolph will get a chance to seek revenge on the team that gave him a raw deal. Maybe the Brewers can beat up on the Mets in their new house to help Willie out with that.

 
I have also received a few apologies from Wickie-haters this week. For most of his four years with the organization, Wickie Reeks has earned his nickname by being called the biggest underachiever on the team. On Opening Day, quotes unlike anything anyone has ever heard before came spewing from his proud teammates and coaches.

 
“He pretty much won the game for us,” says Ken Macha. “I just know it’s going to come together for him. It might be happening right now.”

 
“You can’t ask for anything more than Rickie gives,” Seth McClung said.  “He gets here early and works so hard. Nobody deserves it more.


Weeks tied the home opener with his bat and won it with a slide to the plate as the Brewers rallied in the bottom of the ninth.  The swarm of B’s at the plate said more about Rickie’s overdue break than the team though.  The team then went on to SUCK IT UP by losing the next 4 in a row.

Which brings us to the bad.  Or in this case, sad.  Merle Harmon, the original radio voice of the Milwaukee Brewers passed away this week.  Harmon partnered with Bob Uecker from ’71 to ’79 and he’s as legendary as they come. With the recent loss of so many baseball greats these last few weeks, the only consolation I can provide is that these amazing men are probably playing a game of countless innings up in the heavens together.

 
Yovani Gallardo isn’t pitching like Yovani Gallardo either.  In his loss to the Reds this week, he went 5 innings giving up 7 runs on 3 hits and 4 BB’s. Also sad, at one point this week, Ryan Braun had hit like 2 for his last 18 or something awful like that. But the bigger picture reveals worse: the Brewers have left a total of 27 on base throughout the last few games. Vomit in my mouth. 

Jeff Suppan not only got a-talkin-to by Macha, not only will he sit out his next start but he should also consider retiring next year out of guilt and forfeit his salary back to the organization so they can pay SOMEONE WHO DESERVES IT. I’m torn because what is more alarming: 3 HBP? 10 BB in < 9 innings? 2 HR’s AND ONLY 2 K’s? 

 
It begs the question: can two terrible starts combined with an ugly performance down the stretch last season be enough to give a veteran pitcher an Essen Haus boot to the drawers? Among Brewers who pitched at least 300 innings for the organization, Jeff Suppan has the fourth worst ERA.  Here are your top five: Glendon Rusch, Jimmy Haynes, Gene Brabender, Jeff Suppan and Steve Woodard. You want league-adjusted?  Fine, when you use ERA+, then Soup drops to eighth. He’s also second worst in quality start percentage, behind Brabender again.

 
It used to be funny when Madison 1070 AM guys pulled the Conan O’Brien wonder-dog “for me to SUUPPP—AANNN” quote out, but now it’s just reality. In this week’s “Chart Magnificence,” we study Jeff’s movement on pitches. Compare the difference between these four starts.


He threw a great deal of strikes in Sept. 07 and most of his misses were just shy of the zone, too. A year later, his pitches weren’t painting the corners; they were decent pitches to hit. Even so, Suppan managed to cash in a 3.00 ERA based on a joke-of-a .214 batting average on balls in play. Then by the end of last season, Suppan had just crumbled and combined his unimpressive throws with zero command and complete inaccuracy when it came to the zone. Commanding the strike zone is his only hope for saving himself. Painting corners and changing speeds will also need to be part of the equation. Note his falling velocity is also working against him.


In “Around the NL,” Cecil Cooper could be the first manager fired.  What?  He said the Astros were going to win 120 games?  Not if your entire team hates you. Tony La Russa says Chris Carpenter’s going to be out “for a while.”  Heh.  Meanwhile, the Pirates actually won some games and acquired Delwyn Young.  But Young hasn’t been a healthy OF.


This deserves a call-out but it also fits in this column – YOU DO NOT HANG A DEAD GOAT AROUND THE HARRY CARAY STATUE. No way.  No how. No matter who you are, you do not do that.  I’m not even going to expound on that.


But finally in, “Friendly Fire With the Cubs,” I was pleased to see Cubs fans boo Jason Marquis only to have watch him beat his former team and cash in for 2 RBI’s at the same time. Rich Harden only lasted 3 innings, too.  Giggle.

 

 
Plus, in a rewind to Sunday, Prince rightfully tipped his hat to Reed Johnson after Reed robbed Prince of a grand salami.  See, when Milton Bradley left with an injury, it was the luckiest thing that could’ve happened to the Cubs. Milton would NEVER have made that play at the wall, but Reed Johnson is just ridonkulous. Game-changing catch on a moon shot.  Classy describes what I think of Prince’s gesture, too.