Monday, December 12, 2011

Breaking news!

I've accepted an opportunity to join Redbird Rants as a staff writer. I would wager to say that a lot of my Cardinals-related writing will be done over there from here on out. Other baseball stuff will be posted here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pujols introduced

I know, I know. I don't get it either. If he's trying to win the PR war, he's not selling it correctly. Just read this line right here.
"I know people back in the city of St. Louis think it's all about the money and are upset about that," Pujols said. "I have all the offers out there for a lot of money. They're calling me 'liar' and all that stuff. That's all good. I went through that when I made the decision. It was tough. I know what they're going through. They're losing somebody that has been part of the community. And I feel for that. My wife and I felt that pain, too."
Pujols says he wept after the Cards initially offered 5 years. To be honest, a five year deal is not so bad when you factor in age and injuries. When a ballplayer is between 25-32, they are usually in their prime. Albert is going to be turning 32 before the end of 2012 and we saw this year that his numbers fell off his career averages. Was that because of the pressure on him in a walk year? I don't know. I just don't know.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Other Cardinals news...

It appears that Rafael Furcal will be a Cardinal for at least two more seasons.
The Cardinals will finalize a two-year, $14-million deal with shortstop Rafael Furcal early next week.

The deal has been agreed upon pending a physical, the shortstop's agent Paul Kinze confirmed to The Post-Dispatch on Saturday afternoon.

Furcal, 34, returns to the team that acquired him at the July non-waiver trade deadline last season. Furcal solidified the team's defense with his play at shortstop, and he took over the leadoff role until struggling at the plate in the World Series. Furcal hit .255 with a .316 on-base percetnage and a .418 slugging percentage in 50 games with the Cardinals in 2011. He added seven homers and 29 runs scored as the team's everyday shortstop.
Defensively, resigning Furcal for two years is a great move. Offensively, he needs to work on getting on base once more.

Asking who the face of the franchise is with Albert now an Angel is a really good question. My vote goes to Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright.

Derrick got the quotes that BJ was unable to provide the other day.
"I wouldn't say that I was shocked. I was sad," Holliday said. "But the cupboard isn't bare...It is going to be very different. But it's exciting. We've lost a Hall of Fame manager and one of the greatest players of all time in the same offseason, and a lot of organizations would be sent reeling by that. We're in pretty good shape. We have a team that can win."[...]

Pujols took him through some of the things that happened on the way to his decision, and the two decided to try and get together before Pujols leaves St. Louis. Holliday kept a pulse on the Cardinals' pursuit of Pujols and said he remained "hopeful" through this week. Now he looks ahead to possibly being the team's first new No. 3 hitter in years and definitely being the focal point of the offense.

"We've got a big hole to fill," Holliday said. "That's going to take all of us to fill it. I think it feels different. It obviously feels that way now. It will be even more glaring when we get to spring training and look around and Tony's not there and Albert's not there. It's a new look. It's a new era in Cardinals baseball."
Bernie gets a quote from Bob Costas on Pujols' decision.
So what does the always fair-minded Bob Costas think about the Cardinals' offer to Pujols and our town's reaction to the defection? Costas offered his take Friday on the MLB Network. After explaining why the Angels and their owner Arte Moreno were in great financial position to take on the enormous Pujols contract, Costas said:

"The Cardinals made more than a fair offer, and they went about as far as their economics would allow. All of those things might have made sense for Arte Moreno to go to a number that the Cardinals couldn't reach. But the Cardinals certainly put out a fair number, which is why you won't find in St. Louis a lot of anger directed at the Cardinals. They're not saying the Cardinals screwed up. Their reaction is disappointment, sadness. And if there's any resentment at all, at least at this point it's directed at Albert Pujols. They believe their devotion to him, and their appreciation of him, in the end, was not reciprocated."

Stan The Man: Book Review

I'm just over halfway through Stan The Man by Wayne Stewart. Published in 2010 by Triumph Books, this book is one of a few released recently about the Cardinal great.

It's a good read. At times, I feel as if Stewart is giving us too much information about Jackie Robinson or Branch Rickey.

The first chapter deals with his childhood in Donora, PA. Some anecdotes relate to Ken Griffey, Jr. as Musial played with Sr.'s father, Buddy in high school.

The next few chapters, we learn just how he became The Man, why he treats his fans the way that he does, etc.

Stewart not only interviews family and friends but he does his research with quoting former ballplayers that wrote books.

Rick Ankiel was not the first Cardinal to be converted from pitcher to hitter. Stan started out as a pitcher but he was a good hitter at the time. An injury to his throwing shoulder and next thing you know, he's asked to play in the outfield. We know what happens next.

The book covers the great decade of the 1940s for the Cardinals, a decade that took the Cards to 4 World Series, winning 3 of them. Stewart discusses how Stan was robbed of a triple crown.

After finishing the book, I can say that it's definitely more of a linear biography moreso than anything else. Wayne Stewart talks with friends and family of Stan and most of Stan's quotes in the book, I feel as if they came elsewhere from press in the media rather than The Man himself. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. But we do find out interesting things though. During the memorabilia craze of the early 90s, Stan the Man, Inc. was formed and even though the goal was to SELL memorabilia, Musial had no problem with giving away autographs for free. I should know...I'm the owner of one of those free autographs.

It's a fast read, too. When one works and has to find time to read, you shouldn't have a problem. It's not like some other books that take forever to read because we're reading about one of the greatest guys of all time to play the game.

Stewart does go into detail on why he's not beloved nationally as say a guy like Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, or even Ted Williams.

It's highly recommended.

Ryan Braun tests positive

While I am very disgusted with the fact that Kentucky blew an opportunity to foul in the final seconds against Indiana, let's turn our attention to Ryan Braun.

ESPN is reporting tonight that 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The report from ESPN states as follows:
National League MVP Ryan Braun, who last season led the Milwaukee Brewers to their first division title in nearly three decades, has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and faces a 50-game suspension if the initial finding is upheld, two sources familiar with the case told "Outside the Lines."

Major League Baseball has not announced the positive test because Braun is disputing the result through arbitration.

A spokesman for Braun issued a statement Saturday: "There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan's complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program. While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident he will ultimately be exonerated."[...]

To affirm the results and strengthen its case, MLB asked the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal, which conducts its testing, to perform a secondary test to determine whether the testosterone spike resulted from natural variations within Braun's body or from an artificial source. The test indicated the testosterone was exogenous, meaning it came from outside his body.
There's more in the article but this is a huge blow to the Milwaukee Brewers as they possibly lose star first baseman Prince Fielder to free agency.

Friday, December 09, 2011

DeWitt talks Pujols

Bill DeWitt spoke earlier this morning on the subject of honoring Albert Pujols. This is from the transcript from ITD Morning after.
Doug: Speaking of the Pujols legacy, you suppose the club will do anything to honor him, will someone else be wearing number 5 this year. Have you had any time to think about that kind of thing?

DeWitt: I can’t imagine we would do that. That would be pretty good if you were really pissed about it. That’s not how it happened. I think we’d hold off on things like that. As far as honors in the future, I don’t rule anything out, you never know in this game what is going to transpire. You try not to burn bridges, I’m sure we’ve burned a few, but you never approach any negotiation with that as the end game, if you don’t end up with the player. We owe Albert, the memories aren’t going away, he’s been great for the Cardinals and the St. Louis community. At some point there will be an opportunity to honor that legacy, right this second it doesn’t come to mind how we’re going to do that.

Carlos Beltran and the Cardinals?

There's just something about former Houston Astros players and the St. Louis Cardinals. There's currently talk that the St. Louis Cardinals are pursuing Carlos Beltran, which makes you wonder what's going to happen with Allen Craig's future.

Craig will be recovering at the start of the season from off-season knee surgery.

Jim Bowden tweeted:
Cardinals express interest in Carlos Beltran, Jimmy Rollins (will end up w/Phils) &Rafael Furcal as they begin to work on life after Pujols
I think Rollins will ultimately stay with the Phillies.

Jon Morosi has also tweeted with regards to Beltran and the Cardinals:
Carlos Beltran fits the #STLCards in so many ways. Jimmy Rollins does, too. The irony: They have the same agent as Albert Pujols.

A Letter from Albert Pujols

The Pujols family took out a full-page ad in this morning's St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It reads as follows:
To the City of St. Louis and Cardinal Nation,

I want to thank each and every one of you sincerely from the bottom of my heart for the love and support you have me and my family for the past 11 years. In my time with the Cardinals, I have been fortunate enough to play on championship teams, and in front of championship fans. This community has reached out and embraced me, and for that I am truly humbled and grateful.

My decision to leave has been incredibly difficult, and your support is the biggest reason why. While I am excited about this new chapter in my life, it was very important to me to let you know that St. Louis has been, and will always remain, in my heart. I have been honored to be able to wear the Cardinal uniform the last 11 seasons, and I want to thank the entire Cardinal organization, my teammates, coaches, managers and staff for everything they have given to me as well.

We call St. Louis home and my family and I are so blessed to have made lifelong relationships in St. Louis that we look forward to continuing for many years to come, and words cannot fully express our gratitude to you all.

Thank you and God bless,
Albert and Deidre

Thursday, December 08, 2011

More reactions...

BJ Rains has reactions from some of the players. Here is how Skip Schumaker felt:
"I was shocked," Schumaker told "I'm used to seeing No. 5 hit in the three-hole for the Cardinals. That's what a lot of people are used to seeing. It's going to be weird seeing him in a different uniform. I think the only different uniform I've ever seen him in is an All-Star uniform. It's going to be different.

"I always assumed that he would come back to St. Louis just because of all that he's done for the community and the team and the organization. I just assumed he would come back. But that might have been wishful thinking."
Meanwhile, you can read Rob Rains' article here.

What really makes it a blow to the gut is this article here by Matt back in 2009.
"Do I want to be in St. Louis forever? Of course," Pujols said. "Because that city has opened the door to me and my family like no other city is ever going to do. I don't want to [go to] any other city, but if that time comes I'm pretty sure wherever I go they are going to do the same way -- hopefully, open the doors. But I don't think it's to be anything compared to St. Louis.

"People from other teams want to play in St. Louis and they're jealous that we're in St. Louis because the fans are unbelievable. So why would you want to leave a place like St. Louis to go somewhere else and make $3 or $4 more million a year? It's not about the money. I already got my money. It's about winning and that's it. It's about accomplishing my goal and my goal is to try to win. If this organization shifts the other way then I have to go the other way."

In Pujols' eyes, the organization has not yet "shifted the other way." He expressed support for the franchise's course in recent years, while also emphasizing again that a new contract is not a big priority.

"When that time comes, then we're going to figure it out," he said. "And I told you, I'm not going to lie to you, it's not about the money all the time. It's about being in a place to win and being in a position to win. If the Cardinals are willing to do that and put a team every year like they have, I'm going to try to work everything out to stay in this town. But if they're not on the same page of bringing championship caliber to play every year, then it's time for me to go somewhere else. Where? Somewhere else that I can win.

"But we don't have to worry about that because I still have a couple of years. As long as they bring in talent and they keep drafting guys and doing moves here and there, then I don't have to worry about that. I'm happy with what I got. I play one year at a time and when that time comes we'll figure it out. But it's not always about how much money can I get. It's about winning. I've already told you guys. I've got 10 fingers and I've nine plain that I can fill up with World Series rings. I want to win."

Commish on the news

Rick Hummel had two very good articles on the news today.

The first was Bob Gibson and Whitey Herzog's reactions to Pujols' leaving for Anaheim.
Bob Gibson, the Cardinals' Hall-of-Fame pitcher, said today he would have liked to have seen Albert Pujols stay in St.Louis, but with the kind of money being offered, it's hard to turn down the kind of offer that the Angels made.

"I hate to see him go, I really do. He should have been a Cardinal for life," Gibson said. "It's tough to turn that (kind of money) down."

Will it be a hard day for St. Louis fans?

"I would think it's got to be a hard day for Pujols, too. Aside from the fact that you're making a lot of more money, there's got to be a lot of emotional things there.

"He's got a lot of ties in St. Louis -- his family, his friends, so many organizations ... "[...]

Herzog said he was "worried" last spring when the Cardinals didn't re-sign Pujols. "That was big," said Herzog. "I thought at the time they should have come to a deal. Maybe say, ‘You'll be Cardinal for life and you'll get ‘x' amont of dollars till you're 65 years old.'

"But still I thought a deal might be worked out. I thought he could come back because of his ties to St. Louis and that it's a great place to play.

"What it boils down to again is that money talks.

"I don't blame the Cardinals. They made a helluva offer although I don't know how they would have structured it.

"I'm sure a lot of people in St. Louis are up in arms and calling the Cardinals cheapstakes. I don't think that's true. I think they negotiated a very fair contract."

But, said Herzog, "You can't deny what Albert did. He had a gimpy leg and a bad elbow and played every day. He was the Cardinals."
The second article was showing where Pujols stands in St. Louis compared to Stan "The Man" Musial.
If Pujols' next 10 years would have been anything like his first 11, the Cardinals' first baseman legitimately could have challenged, at least statistically, the revered Musial as the Greatest Cardinal of Them All."

Now, with Pujols fleeing to the Los Angeles Angels, Musial, as he has had for the last 50 or 60 years, will hold that title in undisputed fashion -- for our lifetimes and those of many others.

Pujols would have had to step it up a bit to catch Musial for career batting average as a Cardinal. He finished three points behind at .328 and 1,557 hits behind at 3,630-2,073.

Home runs would have been no contest. Musial wound up his 22-season career with 475 homers as a Cardinal. Pujols already has 445 on his way probably to 700 or more.

Runs batted in, the third part of a hitter's trifecta, also would have fallen to Pujols. Musial ended with 1,949. Pujols already has 1,329 and would have had to average only 70 or so RBIs a year to pass Musial there.

Cards statements on Pujols

Cardinals Chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt, Jr.:
“We are disappointed that we were unable to reach an agreement to keep Albert Pujols in St. Louis. Albert is a great champion and we will always be thankful for his many achievements in a Cardinals uniform, as well as his contributions to the St. Louis community. I have the highest regard for Albert both personally and professionally, and appreciate his direct involvement in this process. I would like our fans to know that we tried our best to make Albert a lifetime Cardinal but unfortunately we were unable to make it happen.”

Cardinals Sr. Vice President & General Manager John Mozeliak:
“Albert has been a special player in this organization since the moment he was drafted over 12 years ago. His accomplishments on and off the field have been spectacular. I wish him well in the next phase of his career.”

Pujols leaves Cards, goes Hollywood

Albert Pujols has decided to leave the greatest baseball city in the world to head west to Los Angeles, where he will play for the Angels.

Reports are that it is a 10 year deal for $250 million. I'm also hearing reports that there is no opt-out contained in the contract.

It cements the fact that Stan Musial remains the greatest Cardinal of all time. If there is one thing that fans appreciate the most, it's the guys that put their heart and soul into the organization and don't care about how high their salary is.

Mark McGwire fell in love with the city and the fans--he gave the club a hometown discount.

Ten years at a quarter-billion dollars, honestly, is too much to pay especially when you look at the age factor and injury factor.

Could St. Louis still be a contender for the playoffs next season? It's hard to say. We're losing a lot of offensive production in Albert Pujols' departure for Hollywood.

Albert Pujols is one of the once-in-a-generation players and will surely be a lock for the Hall of Fame but I don't place him in the same category as Lebron James but this is one of those that will take some time to really digest.

Curt Schilling says Pujols would do better in St. Louis than Hollywood.

The legacy factor is where one must really think about things. Pujols could have been the greatest Cardinal of all time but as of now, he is in second place to many of Stan's numbers.

2012 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

The candidates on the ballot this winter for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame next summer include:
Jeff Bagwell
Jeromy Burnitz
Vinny Castilla
Juan Gonzalez
Brian Jordan
Barry Larkin
Javy Lopez
Edgar Martinez
Don Mattingly
Fred McGriff
Mark McGwire
Jack Morris
Bill Mueller
Terry Mulholland
Dale Murphy
Phil Nevin
Rafael Palmeiro
Brad Radke
Tim Raines
Tim Salmon
Ruben Sierra
Lee Smith
Alan Trammell
Larry Walker
Bernie Williams
Tony Womack
Eric Young

Of that list, those appearing on the first time are Williams, Mueller, Sierra, Castilla, Salmon, Lopez, Womack, Mulholland, Radke, Burnitz, Jordan, Young and Nevin.

Returning candidates: Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Dale Murphy, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell, Edgar Martinez, and Lee Smith.

At some point over the next few days or weeks, I'll look at their stats and tell you who I would vote for.

Jeff Luhnow set to take over Houston Astros

According to sources, Jeff Luhnow has been named as the new General Manager of the Houston Astros. This now makes two GMs in the NL Central that have come from the Cardinals organization.

Someone tweeted the information, then went ahead to delete the tweet before making their account private. When dealing with social media, it's important to remember that actions have consequences. The tweet was made and the damage was done. We offer our congrats to Jeff Luhnow nonetheless.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Mark Buehrle

The Cardinals are shopping either Kyle Lohse or Jake Westbrook to possibly make room for pitcher Mark Buehrle. I like the idea that this could very well happen. I've been wanting Buehrle to join the Cardinals for several years now. He's a hometown kid. The question is: What kind of hometown discount would he take?

Monday, December 05, 2011

Ron Santo inducted to HOF

Ron Santo has finally got his due. Too late in my opinion as he is not alive to see it. I may be a die-hard St. Louis fan but I know HOF-caliber ballplayers when I see them.
Santo was the lone candidate among a ballot of 10 men, whose greatest contributions were realized between 1947 and 1972, to receive the 12 votes necessary to earn 75 percent and election to the Hall of Fame by the Golden Era Committee. Santo received 15 votes from the 16-member electorate and will be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 22nd in Cooperstown.

"The numbers of are there," said Committee member and Hall of Famer Billy Williams. "Everybody saw the numbers, the home runs, the Gold Gloves. And I think everyone looked at it with a different view saying, 'This guy should be in the Hall of Fame.'"

Santo died on December 3, 2010, but his wife believes he is celebrating today.

"I am sure he is smiling down on this day," she said. "I am a believer in what's meant to be. I believe he was meant to be in the Hall, unfortunately it couldn't be during his lifetime. But I think the message is to never give up. This was always his dream."

Santo becomes the 12th major league third baseman to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the first elected at the position since Wade Boggs in 2005. Including three selections from the Negro leagues, there are now 15 third basemen in the Hall of Fame. In 15 major league seasons, Santo compiled a .277 lifetime batting average, with 2,254 hits in 2,243 games, while totaling 1,331 runs batted in and 365 doubles.[...]

Santo played for 14 seasons with the Chicago Cubs and one with the Chicago White Sox and was a nine-time All-Star. He hit 342 career home runs and won five Rawlings Gold Glove Awards for his defense at third base. He was honored by the Cubs Walk of Fame, becoming a member of the inaugural Class of 1992 and was selected to the club's all-century team in 1999. He was also a Cubs broadcaster for 21 years.[...]

"[During the voting process], some people brought out more than the numbers of Ron Santo," said Williams. "And talked about what he did for the community."
Here's how the voting went down:

Results of the Golden Era Ballot (12 votes needed for election): Ron Santo (15 votes, 93.75%); Jim Kaat (10 votes, 62.5%); Gil Hodges (9 votes, 56.25%); Minnie Minoso (9 votes, 56.25%); Tony Oliva (8 votes, 50%); Buzzie Bavasi, Ken Boyer, Charlie Finley, Allie Reynolds and Luis Tiant each received less than three votes.

The 16-member Golden Era Committee was comprised of Hall of Fame members Hank Aaron, Pat Gillick, Al Kaline, Ralph Kiner, Tommy Lasorda, Juan Marichal, Brooks Robinson and Billy Williams; major league executives Paul Beeston (Blue Jays), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals), Roland Hemond (Diamondbacks), Gene Michael (Yankees) and Al Rosen (retired); and veteran media members Dick Kaegel, Jack O'Connell and Dave Van Dyck. Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark served as the non-voting chairman of the Golden Era Committee.