TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Dodgers stymie Pujols; go for sweep.

The Cardinals were a pick of mine to advance. I thought the Dodgers’ pitching was suspect and Albert Pujols could take over a series. So far, I have been wrong. The Dodgers have limited the Cardinals to five runs in the two games and go for the sweep today in St. Louis.

Of course, if Matt Holliday could catch a line drive the NLDS would be tied at a game apiece. He couldn’t and it is not.

PUJOLS: Cardinals need his bat.

PUJOLS: Cardinals need his bat.

That play was a major storyline. So is the Dodgers’ unwillingness to pitch to Pujols. Like Barry Bonds a few years ago, Pujols is to be avoided.

Pujols, the NL MVP favorite, hit .327 with a major league-leading 47 homers and 135 RBI. He as also intentionally walked 44 times, most in the majors. In the first two games of this series the Dodgers have limited him to a single in six at-bats. They’ve walked him intentionally the three times he came to the plate with runners in scoring position.

“To me, Albert is just out there in a class by himself,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Friday. “It may cost me, you know, a three-run homer instead of a two-run homer. But I’m still going to make somebody else beat me.”

The Cardinals have the power to complement Pujols, but Los Angeles’ pitching has been too good.

“One of the reasons we were a lot better in the last half of the year is we have protection behind him,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “If Albert keeps getting on base, we’ll pick him up.”

For the Cardinals, who stranded 14 runners in Game 1, it has to happen soon.

91 thoughts on “TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Dodgers stymie Pujols; go for sweep.

  1. John (2) They are two teams I’m familiar with – although not so much with the Dodgers these days.

  2. Hey, Annie: The Angels are helping me with that SoCal Freeway Series I’m hoping for! :)

  3. 5 Someone needs to know how to beat the Yankees. So far, the Twins are experts at beating themselves and the umps are good at beating the Twins.
    I haven’t seen a bigger, juicier meatball in my life than the one I saw Joe Nathan deliver to a tee last night and serve up to Alex Rodriguez on a plate.

  4. LOL! Nice play, Albert! You’re fielding in this series is matching your offensive output. Don’t worry, in about six innings, you’ll have plenty of time to work on both in the off-season!

  5. Gil (4) Please keep those Angels away from my teams – they scare the daylights out of me.

  6. John (5) Gil (6) You’re afraid of the Yankees? Last year they didn’t even make the post season.

  7. 9 Love the Angels. Love how Mike Scioscia has always had them play like an NL team. Love how everyone always underestimates them. And I still wonder why Omar Minaya didn’t make a play for Torii Hunter when he was a free agent, to play one of the corner spots. Somehow he thought Moises Alou and Ryan Church were better options.

  8. Of all the teams to get swept in the first round, I wouldn’t think it would be the Cardinals. I thought they had some of the best pitching in the playoffs.-JD

  9. 10 Not afraid of the Yankees — I just detest them as a baseball organization. Always have. No one likes the bully walking in the same neighborhood as my Mets, especially the bully always flaunting his wealth. :)

  10. Gil (11): The Angels might be the most fundamentally sound teams in the playoffs. The Twins are fundamental, too, but haven’t shown in the first two games. Bad baserunning cost them last night. Bad umping, too, but that’s another story.-JD

  11. 15 So did the Nathan meatball to A-Roid. So did ugly ABs by Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez with the bases loaded and the go-ahead run 90 feet away.
    Another thing about last night was surprising: As skilled a bunter as Carlos Gomez is, Gardenhire didn’t call for him to squeeze — even with Joe Mauer on third base.
    The Twins are likely done. What a HUGE emotional victory it could’ve been for them, to beat Mariano at Yankee Stadium and for their closer to shut down the heart of their order. Mariano’s not getting burned twice in the same series.

  12. So, let’s get this straight. Tonight’s game at Denver is postponed because of the cold, and rescheduled for tomorrow NIGHT? If the weather is an issue, play it during the day. …. Oh, that’s right. Baseball doesn’t give a damn. Let TV dictate everything. For the good of the game, and not the owner’s bank accounts, play some afternoon baseball in the playoffs.-JD

  13. Gil (19): I see the same. Yankees not letting the Twins off the hook. Minnesota had its chances even with the bad call but let it get away.-JD

  14. John (21) I’ve been pondering that decision myself – I believe they are scheduled for 10PM eastern time, too. Who makes these decisions? – it must be stupid Selig.

  15. 21 Actually, JD it makes sense and is fair to Colorado sports fans — and to Denver traffic planners. The Broncos have a home game vs. New England at 2:15 p.m. local time. The Rockies’ game is scheduled for 8 p.m. local time.

  16. 24 Annie: As someone who lived for several years on the West Coast, the TV schedule has always been biased toward East Coast viewers. VCRs, DVRs and mlb.com’s video aside, how many times have West Coast baseball fans been shafted by games starting during the week at 4:30 and 5 p.m., when many fans are still at work?

  17. John (24) I think we all would, one of my reasons for loving the Misch game at the Marlin’s stadium was that there was sunshine and no noisy scoreboards or loud music. It’s a fine memory. Incidentally, saw Bernie Williams on CenterStage the other night and MK asked him what music he liked when he was announced. He replied “None, did DiMaggio or Mantle play to music?”

  18. No music – I want what Jeter has, Bob Sheppard to announce me by my name only with that marvelous voice of his.

    (I’m not pitching, I play first base)

  19. Gil (25/26): I don’t agree with you on either comment. Why can’t the Broncos and Rockies play at roughly the same time? It happens in NY all the time. … Also, the East Coast view is the one shafted by the night games in the playoffs. It’s far better to miss the first or second inning than the eighth and ninth. … It’s the East Coast viewer – and stadium fan – who has to stay up past midnight and have to get up early the next day. The West Coast viewers have it easy.-JD

  20. 30 I never minded staying up late for good baseball. Did it as a kid on Friday and weekend Mets games from the West Coast and will gladly do it again tomorrow.
    Have to admit, though, for the NFL I got used to and enjoyed 10 a.m. West Coast start times for the early games.

  21. Gil (31): I never minded staying up, either. I’m thinking about all those young kids who are sleeping when they could be watching history. Not a way to cultivate future fans,-JD

  22. I have to take John’s side in this – never lived anywhere but the East- and because of school, work, etc. I wake up early and get sleepy before 10PM.

  23. John – When I was in college, I used to fake illness during the World Series so I could go home and watch with my Dad. (We also watched all the political conventions together – although that probably doesn’t interest you.)

  24. 33 You might feel differently, then, if you lived out west. I remember before the days of DVRs having to watch the ’99 Mets-Reds tie-breaker at a buddy’s house on videotape because the game was in the middle of the afternoon West Coast time.
    And it was hard to watch the NLCS games of that year when I was working for the first two hours.

  25. 34 Annie: To this day, I believe the Mets won that 16-inning ’86 Game 6 NLCS marathon in Houston because I DIDN’T skip my afternoon English class in college. Ran across campus and joined that classic in the bottom of the 8th.

  26. Gil (36) – that was the game in the Astrodome wasn’t it? Mike Scott? I’m testing my memory.

  27. Hi everyone.

    As someone who lived in Denver for a number of years. This weather is a bit out of norm for this time of the year. It generally is warmer.

    So playing at night should not be a big deal.

    You may remember the Bronco blizzard on Monday night football in the early 80′s. The thing is the sun came out the next day and melted almost all of the snow. By the weekend it was completely gone.

    It would be nice if they played a day games in the playoffs on Saturday and Sunday but we all know that is not going to happen.

  28. 38 LOL! 39 No, Annie. That was the game the Mets won to AVOID the scuffed-ball throwing cheat!

  29. Also Monday night football is great living in Denver. Loved the 7:00 PM start time.

  30. OK – here’s an off-topic story from this afternoon. I’m watching a golf tournament between the US and the International players from Europe etc. It’s being held about an hour away from Stanford, on the oceanside. All the big guys are there. I’m looking carefully at one large person who is actually walking inside the ropes with Tiger Woods…Yes, it was his buddy, Michael Jordan.

  31. John (47) I don’t know him, but I was surprised to see him there. Condoleeza Rice was also there – Bush’s Secretary of State.

  32. 43 JD
    Your dream could be the perfect beer commercial.

    You remember the line

    It doen’t get any better than this.

  33. I don’t mind the Dodgers winning but it is hard to root for a guy like Padilla.

  34. Nice stat line TBS just put on Andre Either.

    Just in case anyone wants to give up on Murphy or F-Mart.

  35. 54 Well, Annie, I believe Padilla has one less DUI (1) than Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa (2) and he purposely drills opposing hitters in the back (Mark Teixeira twice) and is generally acknowledged by former teammates to be a bad teammate.

  36. 53 Scott: The Dodgers have done a brilliant job building up their farm system: Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, James Loney, Andre Ethier, Jonathan Broxton, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley…

  37. Gil (55) Was he on the Dodgers when all this happened? Apparently Don Mattingly and Joe Torre like him a lot at least that was the info at the beginning of this telecast.

  38. Gil 56
    If the Mets followed a Dodger type plan 2010 would be painful but the rewards in 2011 would be worth it.

  39. 57 Annie: Padilla was on the Texas Rangers in ’06 when the DUI arrest happened.
    But before then, according to a Nicaraguan newspaper, Padilla was the driver — and found by authorities to be legally drunk — in an auto accident there that claimed the life of his passenger.
    Padilla has a history of alcohol abuse.

  40. 57 Annie
    The Dodgers got him for nothing, and signed him out of desperation.

    Do an internet search.

  41. 58 Scott, I agree with you, buddy. Hell, if the Mets followed their own player development plan from 1980, we’d have several competitive years to look forward to. But you know Mets management — don’t follow the blueprint which earned you the most success, right?

  42. 61 Annie: While I hope Padilla overcomes his addiction, I hope his his driver’s license has been revoked, so no one else on the road, in his car or even on the street can be harmed by his bad judgment and recklessness.

  43. Gil – what do you think the Mets will do over the off season? Anything? or just try to keep the status quo?

  44. 64 Annie: Based on Omar Minaya’s track record, my gut feeling is that he’ll try and make a splash by signing one or two big name free agents, but it won’t be nearly enough.
    He has little or nothing to trade with, no impact-ready prospects because of his bad mismanagement and neglect of the farm system and his bidget isn’t infinite.
    I expect him and Jerry Manuel to be fired by the All-Star break next year and replaced by either Kevin Towers or J.P. Ricciardi.

  45. Someone on this blog wanted Wally Backman – conveniently forgeting his assault on his wife a couple of years ago…

  46. 68 Annie
    That story seems to be not accurate.

    At least one version claims that his wife was beating him up.

    I would not hire Backman because of his conduct while he has been a minor league manager.
    Too much of a hot head.

  47. 68 Annie, your point is well taken.
    But have you ever heard Wally Backman’s side of that story? It aired a few years ago on HBO’s “Real Sports.”
    I’m not at all excusing Backman’s behavior, or taking his or his ex-wife’s side, but he alleges it was she who started and escalated the violence.
    That’s the hard part about these domestic incidents, like the recent one between the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera and his wife. None of us was inside their homes at the time and will ever know exactly what happened.
    For the record, Braves’ longtime manager Bobby Cox also was alleged to have beaten up his wife and Phillies’ pitcher Brett Myers was arrested after a public fight in Boston with his spouse.
    Doesn’t make it right that they weren’t significantly punished, but baseball is long past the days of hiring “character guys” for key positions.

  48. One thing that will be interesting to watch is how many teams will want to get rid of bad contracts.

    You may see more players switch teams the way Alexis Rios did. Put on waivers with the hope some team will claim them and take the contract.

  49. Gil (71) Oh, they are ‘character guys’ all right. I know the DBacks dumped Wally and that his mug shot was in an Arizona Paper. Don’t have HBO, so I can’t monitor all these players for their behaviour, nor would I want to.

  50. 72 Scott, isn’t it something — speaking of bad contracts — how many of these bad contracts have been executed since ’06 by Omar Minaya?
    1. Guillermo Mota, two years.
    2. El Duque, two years.
    3. Moises Alou, two years.
    4. Scott Schoeneweis, three years.
    5. Luis Castillo, four years.
    6. Oliver Perez, three years.
    7. Tim Redding, any length of time.

  51. 73 Annie; Blame the D-Backs front office for not properly vetting their managerial candidate, not Backman, for applying for the job.
    As for monitoring his household behavior, Backman deserves to tell and have heard his side of the story. If it’s true that his wife was the aggressor and he ended up in the slammer(and got blackballed by MLB clubs) as a result, that’s as bad as if it were the other way around.

  52. Gil (74): In all fairness, all of those players with the bad contracts had some productive time with the Mets. The problem was the contracts were too long.-JD

  53. NINTH INNING: I can’t believe the Cardinals are on the verge of getting swept. Amazing to me. Dodgers will have a lot of time to get their pitching lined up for the next series. And, that’s going to last a while longer.-JD

  54. 74 Gil
    All teams have bad contracts.

    That alone has not been Omar’s major problem.

    In fact I bet if you add up all the money on the 7 players you listed it is still less than the Giants are spending on Barry Zito.

  55. 76 That’s exactly why I mentioned the number of years in my comment.
    But come on, JD, you think after ’06, Mota, Schoeneweis and El Duque were at all productive?

  56. 76 JD
    You hit the nail on the head.
    If all of the contracts Gil mentioned were one year shorter they would not look nearly as bad.

  57. 78 Excellent points, Scott — both about the insane Barry Zito deal and about Omar Minaya making other mistakes besides the bad contracts. Not trading Daniel Murphy after the ’08 season when his value was high and trading for known damaged goods in J.J. Putz were just two more of his errors.

  58. Gil
    El Duque was good in 07 until he got hurt.
    If his contract had been 1 year instead of 2 it would have been no big deal.

    Omar did get the Brewers to take Mota off his hands for nothing so he lucked out.

    Show was awful from day one

  59. 80 Sorry, Scott. Signing Schoeneweis for any length of time was a mistake (he also was damaged goods), as was the case with known and confessed steroid cheat, Guillermo Mota.
    At best, Castillo’s play with the Mets in ’07 earned him two years.
    And at their ages, both El Duque’s and Alou’s should’ve been one-year, incentive-laden, tops.
    Minaya, in not trading for or signing a young, talented OF to take Cliff Floyd’s place and then signing El Duque was looking to the past, not the future.

  60. Gil
    Alou’s contract was one year + an option which
    the Mets picked up. Not very wise.

    Will have plenty of time for hot stove.

    Dodgers winning in 3 is stunning to say the least.

    I am going to have to read the St Louis paper tomorrow. Should be interesting to see what they have to say.

  61. 86 We’ll definitely trun on the hot stove, Scott. Wasn’t shocked by the Dodgers’ sweep — great young talent at bat and a rock solid bullpen.

  62. 88 If De La Rosa is able to return to the mound, I could see the Rockies being a problem for the Dodgers. As for the Phillies, well, haven’t we all learned the last two years never to count them out? :)

  63. (71) When Bobby Cox announced his upcoming retirement, the press release issued by the Braves said that he wanted to spend more time beating up his wife.

    You’ve been a wonderful audience. Please drive safely.