Entries Tagged as 'Albert Pujols'

Monday catchup

It’s tough being a Cubs fan who has Albert Pujols on his APBA league team.  It’s even tougher when you find out he’s out for six weeks.  My favorite headline today… Rays to miss play against Pujols  Yeah, I’m sure they’re heartbroken. 

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Chad Cordero retired. In other news, Chad Cordero was still playing baseball.

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On a personal note, I just attended my first roller derby event Saturday.  The Twin City Derby Girls are making a go at it in Champaign-Urbana and from the attendance this weekend, it seems pretty popular. 

I can see why.  It’s quite exciting what with fast-paced action, healthy looking women going at each other, and even a campy atmosphere.  I even began to understand the rules after a while.  I’ll be back for more.  A few more photos from Saturday’s event.

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Slow Starters: NL edition

A couple days ago, I posted my list of slow starters in the AL.  Now it’s the NL’s turn. 

Stats as of 4/27.

 

Dan Uggla, Atl .188, 8 rbis Those eight rbis come on 5 HR.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing.
Geovany Soto, Chi .227, 1 HR I’m thinking that unless Geo starts shaping up, his time is running out with the Cubs.
Ryan Dempster, Chi 1-2, 7.63 ERA Eight HR in 30 2/3 IP.  Yikes!
Hanley Ramirez, Fla .211, 3 SB hitting the same as John Buck
Carlos Lee, Hou .207 …but does have 13 rbis
J.A. Happ, Hou 1-3, 6.94 ERA lack of control isn’t helping
Jonathon Niese, NY 1-3, 5.10 ERA workhorse is leading Mets in IP, though
Albert Pujols, StL .250, 8 EBH I know he’s got 17 rbis but have you noticed?  He’s got more Ks than walks so far.
Madison Bumgarner, SF 0-3, 7.79 ERA I think a lot was expected from this Giant hurler
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Pujols and his jugs

Albert Pujols says “Winners use JUGS”?

fri indiana st 301

taken at the opposition dugout at last night’s Illinois baseball game

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Guest post: Rich Williams on what happened to the 2010 St. Louis Cardinals

This post is penned by friend and die-hard Cardinals fan Rich Williams.  When asked by us Cub fans over email what happened to St Louis this year, Rich wrote this very thoughtful and analytical piece on the Cardinals.  What went right, what went wrong and the look to the future. 

I asked his permission if I could re-post it here and he graciously yes.  Thanks, Rich!

-tbz

 

After watching Halladay pitch a no-hitter in his first ever post-season appearance, Texas pound the Rays, and the Yankees continued Torment of the Twins, I think we can all agree that both STL and the Cubs (maybe a little more with the Cubs) have a longgggggggggggg way to go.   My pleasure will become in watch Dusty make stupid pitching choices on the way to a 3-and-out.

So, I can’t let Alex’s questions go by without some insights. I have to admit, this is the most complex Cardinal season I have ever tried to dissect.  I think there are a few problems I can immediately identify:

1. LOW OBP by leadoff batters caused overall run totals to sag.  Felipe Lopez was not the answer offensively or defensively to Schumaker sagging to his career means in both areas. Ditto Aaron Miles, although his BA was inexplicably decent for a part time player.

2. Inconsistent performance by 3-4 hitters in RISP situations.  I don’t believe there is such a thing as a clutch hitter (ala Bill James), so the only explanation I can offer is both were pressing and expanding their strike zones because ……

3. Very LOW OPS in 5/6/7 slots after Freese went down, Rasmus went down, Ludwick was hurt then was traded, Allen Craig could not hit MLB pitching, etc.  Molina struggled offensively all year and finally broke down when Larue got his head kicked in by Cueto.

4. Lack of depth, period for third base (feliz????) both at bat and on the field.

5. Not getting Jake Westbrook enough innings after spending so much to get him

6. Bad chemistry in the club house with enough blame to go around.  Felipe became the scapegoat, but the problems between the players and Tony eventually extended to Albert, Holliday and Carpenter.  Losing Ludwick was a major contributor to negative clubhouse atmosphere just when they needed it most.

7. A curious inability to beat tail-ender teams like the Cubs while piling up an impressive record against above-.500 and contending teams.

8. Below average defensive performance compared to previous years in general, particularly against lesser teams.

 

Summary:

The Cardinals season got decided in the six weeks following the sweep of the Reds immediately after the All-Star Break.  All the problems above seemed to descend in a vengeance. Problems in finding a 4th and 5th starter (Lohse and Suppan) aggravated these issues by consistently putting a team behind 4-5 runs early when they could not score.   This in turn burned down what had been one of the most effective bullpens in the NL culminating the outrageous game in Denver where the Rockies came back in the bottom of the 9th trailing 9-3 to win 12-9 on a walk-off 3-run homer.   September found them so far behind and still struggling to score runs that even the Cincy mini-collapse only narrowed the ending gap to 5 games. Getting swept by Cubs (who finished 11 games in back of them) in STL was pretty much the end of the line.

 

2011 Needs:

1. A lead-off hitter that improves on these stats:

BA (rank) … OBP (rank) … SLG (rank)

245 (12th) … .309 (13th) … .350 (13th)

2. An everyday 2nd baseman with league average OPS at least.  (Trade)

3. An everyday third basement with league average OPS at least. (Freese, Descalso, Greene are likely contenders)

4. Overall depth at infield positions as opposed to outfield positions. This is where a lot of younger players from Memphis who came on late will contend (Greene, Descalso).

5. An everyday right fielder with minimum league average OPS, if not a little more.

6. Sign Pujols to an extension.

7. Resign Westbrook.

NB: Brendan Ryan remains an way above league average fielding shortstop that the pitching staff trusts and insists is in the game most of the time. His offense can remain a semi-black hole as long as his defense comes back in 2011 instead of his 2010 where he got injured early.  The Skip Schumacker experiment at 2b is over and he will either return to outfield duty of get traded as a throw-in somewhere.

Good things in 2010:

1. Young players making strides: Jaime Garcia, John Jay, Tyler Greene, Colby Rasmus, Jason Motte, Kyle McClellan.

2. Starting pitching and bullpen.

3. Pythagorean for RS/RA projected a better record (92 wins) even with problems above. See defensive issues, problems against lesser teams, consistency in run scoring.

4. 86 win season matching 2006 club.  Reds simply beat them despite playing sub-.500 ball against winning teams by cleaning up on tail-enders (but only by 5 games=91 wins). Reds outscored Cardinals gave up far fewer runs and dominated the heads up series 12-6.

Where to improve:

Offense:

Improve on these 2010 numbers across the board:

RUNS 736  14th Overall

ON BASE PERCENTAGE .332  13th Overall

SLUGGING PCT  .402  16th Overall

Pitching:

Improve on following 2010 numbers

QUALITY STARTS 94  6th  Overall   (Find 4th and 5th starters who are healthy and go six innings)

WHIP

1.30 10th Overall  (Ditto)

BAA

.256  16th Overall (Ditto)

Cardinals are way ahead of the Cubs in fielding a contending team, but need to fill some obvious gaps to stay competitive.  The Reds will likely come down to earth in terms of RS/RA but will look to improve as well.  Offseason will be worth watching for both.  Cubs need to clear deadweight payroll, Cardinals will try to deal with limited payroll flexibility given they have locked in Holliday, Lohse and Carpenter and look to lock in Albert.

And what will Tony Larussa do?  

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He’s back

This should teach me to write an article pointing out the weaknesses of Albert Pujols.

Phat Albert seems to be back.

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Cardinals need rock-steady Albert Pujols back

When May ends, Albert Pujols will no doubt have recorded his worst month on record.  For the month, he’s currently hitting .256 with one homerun.  His slugging percentage?  .385.  He’s managed 10 rbis and 10 runs scored and has a .396 OBP which certainly isn’t embarrassing but quite honestly, I’m afraid something is wrong with the God of Baseball ™. 

Let’s put it in perspective.  In May, Cubs infielder Mike Fontenot had a better slugging percentage than Albert.

Not only that, MLB.com reports that Pujols denies having words with Tony LaRussa.  Let’s face it, if it gets by the editors at MLB.com than there is probably something to it.

This is a bad time for Pujols to go into the first slump of his career.  It’s possible that he could be a free agent at the end of this season should the team decline his option at $16 million.  I seriously don’t think that will be an issue but you never know. 

Add into the mix that Dan Lozano who is Pujols’ agent, is making an exit from Beverly Hills Sports Council to start his own agency.  Lozano plans to keep Pujols as a client. 

I’m no Cardinals fan but with them battling it out with the Reds, this is no time for their star player to get into a slump possibly fueled by a nagging injury (purely conjecture on my part) or to get involved in any dugout dramas. 

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Albert Pujols: Give him the ‘00s NL Triple Crown

Not only did Albert Pujols win three MVP awards this decade, he also can lay claim to the ‘00s Triple Crown according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark.  He lead all National Leaguers in batting average, homeruns and rbis for the decade. 

The last person to do that was Ted Williams in the 40s.

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2009 MVP roundup: Joe Mauer’s power convinces the BBWAA

I was thinking about the 2009 MVP awards and getting all cynical about how the BBWAA only recognizes players when they finally start hitting the long ball.  After all, Joe Mauer’s 28 homeruns was twice his previous high three years ago.  Mauer had all (ok, most) of the tools necessary to garner the award already but the boost in power clinched it. 

250px-AAAA8040_Joe_Mauer But then I thought back to last year.  Oh yeah,  Dustin Pedroia.  As much as a surprise as it was to me, Pedroia came through with the 2008 MVP award with a measly 17 homeruns for the Boston Red Sox (yeah, yeah, go ahead… scream East Coast bias all you want.  Yankee writers vote on this too).

A little bit of related MVP trivia… who was the last National League player with less than 20 homers to win the MVP?  It’s been a few years.  Answer at the end.

It was more than the power in of itself though.  An intriguing statistic… Joe Mauer led the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.  No big deal?  Except it hasn’t been done since George Brett did it in 1980.

Cocky sports show host Sam Panayotovich, who guest posted the MVP predictions on TBZ in September, shot me an email.  Referring to his article, he wrote, “Man, this guy was right on the money. ;).” 

Sure enough, Sam correctly picked Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols to win the big one.  But let’s be fair.  Albert Pujols was a gimme.  :)  The entire BBWAA thought the same way. 

Seriously, it was a nice call, Sam.  Out of all of our analysts who predicted the awards, I think he was the only one to get them both right. 

Mauer wasn’t unanimous and that’s not too surprising.  What is strange is that the lone dissenting vote didn’t go to second place Mark Teixeira or even third place Derek Jeter.   Fourth place Miguel Cabrera was the recipient of the gratuitous #1 vote.

Oh back to the trivia question, who was the last NL MVP player with under 20 homers???

It was Barry Larkin in 1995. Larkin hit .319 with 15 homers with 98 runs and 66 rbis.  He also stole 51 bases and won the Gold Glove that year.

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2009 National League All Stars

mark-reynoldsThe Sporting News announced its National League All Stars as determined by 31 major league general managers and assistant GMs.  St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols (also named Player of the Year), Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun were on the ballots of all 14 NL team executives who voted.

C Yadier Molina has shown that catching is much more than just offensive numbers, he is regarded as the best defensive catcher in the game.  Besides his work behind the plate, Yadier seems to have found his stroke, batting .293 for the Redbirds.

1B Albert Pujols is simply the best, as reaffirmed by him being named Player of the Year.  This year, once again, he posted Albert Pujols type numbers, leading the league with 47 homers & 122 runs, while batting .327 with a .443 OBP (best), while hitting 45 doubles, and driving in 135, leading St. Louis into the postseason.

2B Chase Utley is the quiet Phillie who just goes about his job in the field & at the plate.  Chase hit 31 home runs, and was seven (93) RBIs shy of driving in at least 100 runs for the 5th straight season, he scored 112 times (over 100 four straight campaigns), and stole 23 bases without getting caught, while batting .282.

3B Mark Reynolds is synonymous with strikeouts, but there’s alot more to his game than just whiffs.  Sure Mark broke his strikeout record he set last year (204) with this year’s mark of 223, but he also hit 44 homers, drove in 102, while stealing 24 bases for Arizona.

SS Hanley Ramirez had the highest batting average in the league, hitting .342, with 24 longballs, to go along with 42 doubles, driving in 106, 101 runs scored, and stealing 27 bases for the Fish.

OF Ryan Braun surprisingly this slugger had more hits than anybody in the NL, with 203, he also had 114 RBIs & 113 runs scored, amassing 32 homers, 39 doubles, & 6 triples, he also stole 20 bags.

OF Matt Kemp is a pure athlete and a true five tool player.  The Dodgers centerfielder batted .297 with 34 steals, 26 home runs, knocking in 101.

OF Jayson Werth This gentle giant seems to have found a home in RF for Philadelphia, and he certainly can turn a baseball & a ballgame around in a hurry.  36 longballs, 99 RBIs, & 98 runs scored, all while playing excellent defense in the field.

SP Tim Lincecum The Freak was it at again, repeating as NL Pitcher of the Year, where does that little guy get all that power?  He was 15-7 with an ERA of just 2.48, striking out a league best 261 batters in 225′ innings, allowing only 168 hits.

RP Ryan Franklin The 36 year old journeyman relief pitcher came out of nowhere to takeover as the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals, saving 38 games, with a 1.92 ERA.  His 17 saves the year before was his career high.

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2009 Player of the Year: Albert Pujols

pujolsThe Sporting News announced St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols as the winner of the Player of the Year award for the 2nd consecutive year as determined by a vote of a panel of 338 major league players, he was a unanimous selection.

For the 9th straight year, since arriving in the big leagues, Albert has batted over .300, with more than 30 home runs, and over 100 RBIs.  He also won the award in 2003.  This year Pujols hit 47 homers and scored 122 times, both tops in the NL, in addition to batting .327 and driving in 135, all this with an elbow which required postseason surgery.  He joins these other Cardinals who have won the award, 1944 Marty Marion, 1946 & 1951 Stan Musial, 1964 Ken Boyer, 1971 Joe Torre, and 1974 Lou Brock.

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