Oct 12

On the market ….

With Boston and St. Louis making early exits in the playoffs, the focus is on the outfielders Jason Bay and Matt Holliday, and where they might land. Left field in Citi Field is a possibility, although not a seemingly strong one.

Yesterday, Bay acknowledged possibly playing elsewhere, but that seems to be more posturing than anything else. Bay loves Boston and the feeling is mutual and the two already had talks this season. I’m figuring he stays in Boston based on what has been written.

However, as much as the Cardinals would like to bring back Holliday, that might not happen because of the pending free-agency of Albert Pujols in two years. The Cardinals aren’t big spenders, but the Catch-22 is in order to retain Pujols they have to be serious about winning and protecting their big bat in the line-up.

Even so, I can see the Cardinals passing on Holliday because they could figure they could get somebody later. That’s how many of these teams think. In addition, the Cardinals’ first priority will be manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Of the four names mentioned here, personally I like La Russa and Duncan on the Mets best, but I know that won’t happen. The odds are best with Holliday.

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.

Mar 19

Where to slot in Castillo?

Manager Jerry Manuel is thinking about going back to Jose Reyes in the leadoff slot to get him going. That spot worked for Luis Castillo, who owned up to the challenge and is hitting .321 with a .500 on-base percentage.

Castillo has been far from the nightmare at the plate he was last year.

I’ve always liked him second, but I can see the logic of Daniel Murphy in that slot. That also allows for a 3-4-5 of Beltran, Wright and Delgado.

Batting him eighth is a waste, but what about ninth and swap with the pitcher? The idea would be to bunch the speed of Castillo and Reyes together.

Initially, I thought Tony La Russa was reinventing the wheel when he did it, but there’s sense to it. If the pitcher is an automatic out (that’s the assumption), what difference does it make if it is eighth or ninth?