Oct 10

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.

Oct 09

Pedro wants the ball ….

I’m not second-guessing the Mets’ decision not to bring back Pedro Martinez. I thought it was time to move on also. However, in light of the collapse of the Mets pitching staff, Martinez’s success with the Phillies shows they might have made a mistake.

Martinez finds himself in position where he could get the ball in the pivotal Game 3 of the Phillies’ NLDS at Colorado tomorrow.

The decision will be announced between Martinez, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ. Martinez thinks it will be him.

“I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s my turn,” Martinez said. “I’m supposed to get some action in there. And I’m looking forward to getting an opportunity to help this team. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do that.”

Martinez was 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA this season in a couple of months with the Phillies. If used the right way, meaning as a back end of the rotation starter, he could be valuable, and his numbers will get him a job if he wants to pitch again.

Did the Mets make a mistake?

Oct 09

Be careful what you wish for ….

A lot of Mets fans are hoping the team will take the plunge on free-agent outfielder Matt Holliday, whose defense prowess is why the Cardinals are down 2-0 in their NLDS with the Dodgers.

Holliday dropped a line drive for what should have been the final out in Game 2 yesterday and enabled the Dodgers to rally in the ninth inning. That the Dodgers rallied is not a surprise, as they won 23 games in their final at-bat this season. It was how sudden that was shocking.

There’s no doubting Holliday’s offensive ability, but his defense has been suspect and left field is a difficult position to play in Citi Field. Not that the Mets are going to splurge on what it would take to land him, but defense is a priority.

So, is his glove worth the risk just to have his bat?

Oct 05

Something with your morning coffee ….

This Day in Baseball History

This Day in Baseball History

One of the greatest catches in World Series history took place on this date in 1947. It was the bottom of the sixth inning in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium when Joe DiMaggio launched a long drive to deep left.
GIONFRIDDO: Robs DiMaggio.

GIONFRIDDO: Robs DiMaggio.


With two runners on it was certain the Dodgers’ three-run lead would be erased. However, Al Gionfriddo, acquired from Pittsburgh earlier in the season, closed the gap and reached over the wall to rob DiMaggio. The catch brought a rise out of the normally dour and unemotional DiMaggio, who kicked at the dirt out of frustration.

The Dodgers would hold on to win Game 6, but the Yankees won Game 7 to clinch the series.

TODAY’S SPORTS BIRTHDAY

1937 – Barry Switzer, football coach (Oklahoma).

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They Said It

They Said It

With their season over from a competitive standpoint, there were those – myself included – who believed Carlos Beltran should’ve shut it down for the remainder of the season.

Beltran said he needed to play to prove his health to himself, and yesterday indicated he doesn’t anticipate his knees would become a problem.

Said Beltran: “People asked me, ‘Why are you coming back?’ But, as a player you have to come back and I did. Now I can go in to the off-season feeling good about myself. I can get ready, be in the best condition I can be in, and get ready for spring training.’’

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ON TAP FOR TODAY

Today the lockers at Citi Field start to get cleared out. Players will be drifting in for the next few days. Some who don’t think they’ll be a part of the Mets next season, could come early and leave before the media is brought to the clubhouse.

Manager Jerry Manuel said there could be some announcements regarding his coaching staff. Third base coach Razor Shines, who waved on over 20 runners that were eventually thrown out at the plate, could be gone. Pitching coach Dan Warthen could be dismissed because of a staff that walked over 500 batters, and regressions by Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez.

ELSEWHERE IN SPORTS

The Tigers and Twins will have a one-game playoff tomorrow in the Metrodome. The stadium couldn’t be used tonight because the Packers-Vikings Monday night game is scheduled. ESPN is expecting huge ratings as the game pits Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre against his former team.

THE WEEK AHEAD

In addition to what news comes out of the Mets, I will also be reviewing the season and analyzing who will be available in the free agent market. I will also be handicapping and previewing the Division Series, and, of course, live blogging the playoffs as I did last year. … I also hope you’ll be with me tomorrow night for the Monday night game between Minnesota and Green Bay.