Tag Archives: Albert Pujols

Let the good times roll

Posted by Steve

Things are looking pretty darn good these days for the Brewers. They’re on a serious roll, having won 11 of 12 games, including six over the hapless AAA team from Houston. On one hand, you could argue that it’s not as impressive coming against teams like the Cubs and Astros. On the other hand, you could say the Brewers’ brutal first half schedule is finally evening out, and they’re taking full advantage of it.  That’s the hand I’m going with.

The starting pitching has been solid, and the top 3 starters have been great. The bullpen has been great. Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are carrying the team, although Yuniesky Betancourt, of all people, has been the one to replace Rickie Weeks offensively. All Yuni’s doing is starting to make up for the horrible impact he had on the team the first few months of the year, but at least he’s doing something now.

Baseball Prospectus has the Brewers at 75.8% to make the playoffs (that’s as of Sunday morning, so it’ll be a bit higher after yesterday’s win). They’re really in great position. The only frustrating thing about this past week is the Cardinals haven’t lost either. Pretty incredible that neither team has lost since that wacky series in Miller Park ended.

Even though they haven’t gained ground on the Cards, they’ve still improved their playoff positioning. They’re now only a game behind wildcard-leading Atlanta, so if the Cardinals somehow caught fire, the Brewers would still have a chance to get in. Likely more important, though, is that the Brewers are now ahead of every team in the N.L. West. Obviously the main concern is to just get in the playoffs, but after that, you’d certainly like to avoid playing the Phillies in the first round. If the playoffs started today, the Brewers would play Atlanta instead of Philadelphia.

First things first though. There is still a lot of baseball to go, and a three game lead can disappear quickly. This Cardinals series is huge, but the pressure is on St. Louis. All the Brewers need to do is not get swept. The Cards probably need to win 2 of 3. Anything more than one in in this series is gravy in my eyes. The Brewers will leave St. Louis either tied, two games ahead, four games ahead, or six games ahead. I’ll be fine with a two game lead, and like I said, anything more is icing on the cake.

That’s the rational way of thinking. The fan in me wants to stomp on the Cards a la 2008 when Braun pimped his go-ahead homer that gave the Brewers a 4-game sweep in St. Louis–still the most satisfying mid-season series in my lifetime. I’m so sick of the Tony La Russa, Yadier Molina, Chris Carpenter, and Albert Pujols (in that order, probably) that I want to put the division out of reach for them.

One thing I am happy to praise Ron Roenicke for is he hasn’t fallen for any of La Russa’s head games–the same ones that chewed up Ned Yost and spit him out. Here’s hoping that continues in another pivotal Cardinals series.

St. Louis Classies

Posted by Steve

So much to talk about. Before I get going, I might as well paste this. I wrote this last night after the game, but I lost internet, so I couldn’t post it.

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Brutal loss last night, particularly because I was there. It was a crazy, long game that both teams were desperately trying to win.

I have to say I was reminded of this game when La Russa did what La Russa does and retaliated on Ryan Braun. How dumb was it of him to put the leadoff runner on in the eighth inning of a tie game? Never mind that the Brewers blew a bases loaded, nobody out opportunity–that was an incredibly dumb move that just happened to work out this time. Definitely a Yostian move.

Still, how do the Cardinals continue to get away with this garbage? Saito hits Pujols in a situation where hitting him was not what he wanted to do, so there’s no way it was intentional. The next inning, a pitch way inside misses Braun. The next one hits him… And there was no ejection! How obvious can it get! Ugh, I hate the Cardinals.

Anyway. What a crappy way to lose. From the bases loaded, nobody out opportunity blown, to the guy I wanted the Brewers to acquire (Furcal) making a nice play to save the game, to La Russa and Molina’s crap, to Berkman’s dinky game-winner–it doesn’t get much worse.

This was a very tough game to lose, especially since I fully expect the Brewers to lose tomorrow. Randy Wolf is getting by on smoke and mirrors lately, and I’m just waiting for something like a combined 5-8 with two homers from Pujols and Holliday. Games against the Cards now are huge. They went from being 4.5 up to 2.5 up, all because Furcal made a good play and Berkman hit a duck snort.

——–

Well, first of all, it’s nice to be wrong about today’s game, though I was right about one thing: Wolf was unimpressive. I suppose my mistake was in not forecasting 3 home runs from Casey McGehee after he had five in 428 plate appearances.

But anyway, on to the main point.  Tony La Russa continues to be a jag of epic proportions. Nothing he does should surprise us anymore, except what’s interesting is that his antics are finally starting to tire people other than his opponents. Have a look at this article from Yahoo Sports.

He sounds like he’s legitimately paranoid. If you care to, read through the transcript of his post-game interview. To sum it up, he first admits the pitch that hit Pujols wasn’t intentional–just inside, and “dangerous.” Then he called the fans idiots and immediately retracted it. Then he doesn’t literally admit (but pretty much does admit) that they intentionally threw at Braun.

So now, not only can you not hit Pujols, but you cannot even throw inside to him. Got it. Man, he contradicts himself in that article more than once.

Even his own team is questioning him! How about this quote from Lance Berkman? I couldn’t believe this.

It’s not like that was the first ball that had been thrown up and in,” Berkman said. “That one just happened to hit Albert. It’s certainly a situation that you don’t want to escalate any further than it needs to. Those things have a way of working out on the field.

Wow.

So in case you missed in, in the past 72 hours, La Russa has:

  • Complained about lighting around home plate at Miller Park (in the past he’s complained about slippery balls in Cincinnati and bullpen mounds in Colorad0)
  • Complained about the Brewers stealing signs
  • Retaliated for something he himself admitted was not intentional
  • Called Brewer fans idiots (some are, especially the ones in our section last night, but you still don’t say that as a manager)
  • Picked a fight with Bill Schroeder, of all people, and actually called him (!)
  • Argued a quick pitch today by LaTroy Hawkins that is legal when nobody is on base (Hawkins jumped way, way up in my book by quick pitching the next few pitches after TLR complained)

A guy could do all of that over the course of a season and be seen as whiny.

——–

Despite the tough loss last night, this was a good series and a great homestand. They’ve got a bit of a cushion with a 3.5 game lead, and hopefully they can extend that in Houston. It’s hard to believe that all this nonsense gets dialed up again next week in St. Louis.

————

EDIT:

Just came across an entertaining summary of La Russa’s complaints during his managerial career. Pretty entertaining.

Important Announcement that I am, in fact, still alive

Posted by Dan

Greeting everyone. Feels like just yesterday I made a post on this blog, but paging through the archives reveals it was actually June of 1999 the last time I posted.  I’m actually surprised it only took me 3 tries to login.  My official excuse for my prolonged absence is that I was trapped working in an area with no radio reception for the 2009 season, which makes my insight really boring. “Say, did anyone else notice Casey McGehee’s OBP dropped 3 points this week?” doesn’t really inspire a great discussion.  That said, who knows if we’ll look back at this post and laugh next season when I have made no additional posts and the blog is called Darrylandsteve.com — but I will make an honest effort.

My work schedule kind of keeps me from actually watching many of the games, but I do get to listen to them which helps me actually follow more closely than simply coming home and checking to see if they won.  I’m sure my observations will pale in comparison to Joe Morgan’s, and people who actually WATCH the games, but I’ll try.

My main inspiration for breaking the silence was the Phillies extending Ryan Howard (30 years old) through his age-35 season for $125 million.  I’m pretty sure the risks are obvious, but if they aren’t: Howard is already 30, he’s 6’4″ and 260 pounds, and his 3-year average OPS vs lefties is only .741, including .653 last season.  But the title of this blog isn’t “Phillies, Phillies Keep Turning Up the Heat” so I’ll leave that analysis to this guy).

This has certain ramifications for the Brewers chances to re-sign Prince.  Obviously, it establishes some sort of precedent Scott Boras will use in free agency, and to me it spells the end for Prince in Milwaukee–if they had any shot of extending him in the first place.  Prince is 4 and a half years younger, which means the team who signs him gets him through his prime, whereas Howard is already past his.  The past three seasons, Fielder has a WAR 14.7, where Howard’s is 12.4 so Fielder’s been the more productive player. I can’t see 5/$125M even getting it done for Prince, and I’m not sure it’s worth it.  Prince is a great player, and we all love him, but I just don’t think they can/should commit $25M of a $90M payroll for one guy.  It also makes Fielder more likely to test free agency because Howard was slated to hit FA at the same time as Prince.  That class of 1B is scheduled to include Prince, Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols.  The common thought is that this could kind of curtail the market for Prince, but now with Howard gone that is lessened.  You also have to assume Pujols won’t walk, so that has to make Prince more excited to be more of the main attraction.

Here’s what I propose the Brewers should do instead:

1.  Extend Rickie Weeks — Rickie is picking up right where he left off last year before the wrist injury derailed his season.  I’m trying not to overreact over what is essentially his last 150 ABs, but even his .740 OPS over 560 PA in 2008 as a floor/baseline is valuable enough and it really seems he’s turned the corner.  If this .850 OPS version of Rickie Weeks is the real deal, he’s far more valuable, and far less replaceable than Prince.  I have no idea what it would take to extend Weeks right now, or if he’d go for it but I think this is a big priority since I can’t see us affording both Weeks and Fielder.

2.  Trade Fielder for some haul as soon as it’s confirmed this team isn’t going anywhere this year.  If the Brewers can get something like what the Rangers got for Mark Teixeira it could go a long way toward the Brewers long term outlook.  If they could find a few players they controlled for 4+ years who could become big contributors, that could be worth more than just the Prince extension.

3.  I think the Brewers’ business plan has to bewhat they’ve done to this point.  Basically, I think that extensions are going to have to be club-friendly ones like the ones Yo and Braun signed.  There’s risk in doing it that way, but it allows you to buy out a year or possibly 2 of free agency while keeping the dollar amount down.  Granted, the Bill Hall contract blew up in their face, but I still think that’s the way to go.  I also realize this wasn’t possible with the Boras/Fielder duo, but if it’s possible with Weeks I think they should take it.  He carries more injury risk I guess, but I’m always willing to give players the benefit of the doubt (I seem to have guys like Brian Westbrook, or Rich Harden every year on my fantasy teams) in terms of injury-proneness (there’s no red squiggly line but how can that be a word?) Unless you believe that Rickie Weeks wrists are just frail and more easily torn than most, I guess I just assume its a fluke.

I’ll leave the proof-reading to Steve.