Today’s topic is about the great Albert Pujols. I’ve bit my tongue long enough. I’ve failed to mention all the times he stands there this year (really, the last couple of years) at the plate after he hit balls that he thought were gone and watched them get caught at or well in front of the warning track. I haven’t said a word about Pujols expanding the strike zone all year, not playing team ball and taking his walks (lowest of his career with 61), with massive protection in Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and David Freese behind him. Pujols was worried about HR’s and RBI’s, not taking walks for the team. Not this year, when he’s looking for the biggest payday in baseball history. I haven’t made mention of his flipping the bat at home plate, showing disrespect to the other team when he does take a walk or hit a home run. I did mention that Pujols’ act is phony, but he fails to take hits from other writers because he’s able to put God in the middle of it, each and every time. The fact is, Pujols turned down a lot of money. From most accounts, it’s in the neighborhood of $200 to $230 million. That would have made him the second highest paid player in the game, and by far the highest paid first basemen. My thought on that is that the Cardinals would be crazy to pay that kind of money to an aging first basemen. That money should only be justified if you played a premium defensive position like A-Rod, and only if the Cards were a large market team.
Well, as you can see, I’m not biting my tongue anymore. Albert, I hope you leave, and I can’t wait for the Cardinals to continue to win after you do so. I want money to be there for the future of the Cards in players like David Freese, Adam Wainwright, and others that come along. I don’t want the Cardinals to be handcuffed for the next 10 years because of your contract that you won’t live up to. I don’t give a shit about your milestones, I want to see a winner on the field, and a team that plays like a team.
Why am I so angry at Albert today? It’s easy, because that lazy attitude finally caught up to him in a big way that may cost the Cardinals their 11th World Series Championship. There was no excuse for Pujols trying to alligator arm that throw from Jay, but I think I know why he did it. I’m pretty sure Pujols and Dan Lozano had a conversation that went down in a way to make sure he didn’t get hurt here in the last few games before the big payday. Maybe it didn’t, maybe laziness has become so routine for Pujols that he even fails to realize it. Either way, there’s no way you can let that ball get by you. You were charged with a well deserved error. You would have had Ian Kinsler nailed trying to go back to third base (by Kinsler’s own admission), and cutting it off would never have allowed Elvis Andrus to get in scoring position. It’s ok though Albert, the most important thing is you didn’t get hurt. Actually, I’m not sure why I’m so upset, it’s not as if you’ve been hustling at any point this year. Meanwhile, there’s the team first guy Berkman coming off of two knee surgeries who hustles all the time, and last night it led to a Kinsler error. If Pujols were running, that bobbled ball by Kinsler could have been picked up and he could have walked over and touched the bag for the out. Also Albert, way to man up after the game and leave Freese and Jason Motte to handle the tough questions. Just another way to prove you’re not a leader. Here’s the link to that story:
It’s not all Albert’s fault though, and I’m not just talking about hustle. I’m talking about the second set of rules that Tony LaRussa has for his players. There’s the ones for Albert Pujols, which is to do whatever he feels like, and the ones for the rest of the team. You could throw Yadier Molina in that mix, but I give him the benefit of the doubt because he’s a catcher and does more than most of us realize. His knees probably hurt all the time.
Speaking of Tony LaRussa, is it just me or did others know that continuing to pull Freese out of the lineup late in the game was going to come back to haunt the Cardinals in a big way. Last night was a perfect example. Sure, it’s worked before, and I don’t mind when the Cardinals have a lead of 2 or more. But in a one run game, are you kidding me? Sure enough, instead of the hottest hitter in baseball coming up with 2 on and 2 out in the bottom of the 8th to potentially pad the 1-0 lead, Daniel Descalso is up instead. These are the times that Tony absolutely drives me nuts. Descalso is not that much better a defender than Freese. Even if some think he is, the game had a great shot to go to extra innings. Why the hell do you remove the one player who hits every ball where it’s pitched?
So here the Cardinals are in the top of the ninth inning with a 1-0 lead, the Rangers have runners at second and third and no outs because of the laziness of Albert Pujols. Josh Hamilton is up, and by his own admission, he’s 50% at best because of his groin injury. The Cardinals need a strikeout, and Motte is the pitcher to do it. You bust him inside with the heat and make the groin ache in the cold weather, right? So what does Tony do, he goes to the bullpen for the lefty-lefty matchup. The problem with this is that Arthur Rhodes has no chance to make Hamilton worry about his groin because he throws as hard as a 41 year old pitcher. Why, because he’s 41, and turns 42 on the 24th of October. The rest is history, because Hamilton does the best thing possible for the Rangers, he gets the sac fly to score the run and tie the game at 1 and he hits it to right which allows Andrus to go to third and eventually score the winning run. How was it that Andrus got to second again? On a side note, if Hamilton would have hit the ball to center Andrus would have easily made it to third as well, because Jon Jay has an arm about as strong as Johnny Damon, which isn’t a good thing. I think most fans are starting to see that Jay really is nothing better than a 4th OF’er.
For just a few more thoughts, thank you TLR for putting a dent into Motte’s confidence by pulling him for Rhodes. The Cards should be up 2 games to none. Jaime Garcia pitched the game of his life. Allen Craig delivered again. However, the Cardinals two biggest stars made the mistakes that put them in the position of having to take 2 of 3 in Texas with Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson pitching the first two games. The Cards almost had 11 in 11, and they still might, but I think it’s unlikely. But hey, to a lot of Cards fans the most important thing is the Cards paying Albert when it’s all said and done. After all, there’s no way the Cards can win without him, right? In his 10 years prior to this one, 9 other teams miraculously did so. I will go out on a limb and say that with Adam Wainwright back next year, Allen Craig will easily duplicate Albert’s 2011 numbers from right field while Lance Berkman mans first base and the Cards will be right back in the playoffs. Of course, Tony LaRussa might tell Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez and Lance Lynn that they haven’t earned a spot on the team yet, and not to buy a house in St. Louis just yet. How amazing is it that none of those three guys were able to beat out the likes of Ryan Franklin, Miguel Batista and Brian Tallet in sprng training? I can see the conversation now with Tony and Mo.
Hey Mo, go find me a couple of soft tossing, non strikeout type guys to give these young guns some competition. They haven’t been around long enough to have anything handed to them. Also, see if Ryan Franklin and Jeff Fassero want a spring training invite.
The Cards have come back again and again this postseason. I can’t think of a loss more devastating that last night though. Texas is clearly in the driver’s seat the rest of the way. No happy flight this time. On one final note to Albert, will you please just start running hard when you hit the ball, after all, it is the fucking World Series.