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Albert Pujols

Snap Judgments on the Early 2012 MLB Season

Even with the NHL Playoffs hitting us right in our sweet spot, and the NBA gearing up for the most arduous playoff schedule of all-time, we here at MAMBINO HQ still have some love for Major League Baseball.

Most teams have played about 12 games so far, and even just 7% into the year, we’ve got some snap judgments on this young season that are entirely too premature, over-excited and amateur in nature. But like my love life, that’s never stopped me before.

How good are the Los Angeles Dodgers?

Better than I thought, but certainly not on a 132-30 pace. Let’s throw out the most basic and obvious truth about this incredible 9-2 start LA has had; before this series with the Brewers, they’ve played the Padres and Pirates 10 times. Those two teams, if my projections are right, will end up being two of the worst four teams in the National League (along with Houston and Pucklius’ beloved Mets). Their schedule has been ridiculously easy, and even with a mediocre offense, beating starting pitchers like Kevin Correia, Jeff Karstens and Edison Volquez isn’t a terribly impressive feat. Lastly, while Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have been absolutely atomic at the 3 and 4 spots, producing 30 RBI in 10 games isn’t a sustainable business model.

However…

The offense has been one of the best in the National League, and it’s productivity has largely been through the strategy of manager Don Mattingly. Faced with the challenge of creating offense with a entirely marginal crew of hitters, Donnie has created a line-up that best utilizes each guy. With the speedy Dee Gordon leading off, the number 2 hitter Mark Ellis doesn’t have to be an extra-base hitting juggernaut, but rather just a contact hitter to move Gordon over. From there, Ethier and Kemp can swing away. With Kemp batting clean-up and either hitting doubles or stealing second, contact guys like James Loney and Juan Rivera simply turn into a Mark Ellis with slightly more pop. As well as Mark Ellis, Kemp and Ethier are playing right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if they came back to Earth a bit, but still maintained strong production.

The pitching has been exactly what I projected a couple weeks ago (amongst the league leaders in ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched), but with an offense that’s producing runs, they go from a very good starting rotation to an excellent one.
I don’t expect the Dodgers to keep this up all season, but with series at Milwaukee and Houston, and then Atlanta and Washington at home, it’s possible that the Dodgers remain looking like a playoff team…for at least one more month. 

Fantasy Spin

  • Ethier has always been a fast starter, and this season is no different. I’d ride him for now, but trade him at the very first sign of trouble. Dre’s been known for gutting out injuries (to everyone’s detriment), so his being in a contract year with literally $100 million dollars sitting on the table really isn’t going to change anything.
  • I’d buy on Mark Ellis. He’s scoring runs because of the massive production of Ethier and Kemp, and as I described, he’s in the perfect situation to thrive. Even as a modest .270 hitter, he’ll still score a ton of runs. I don’t think he’s a long term solution at second for any owner, but certainly ride him until Ethier gets hurt.

Josh Willingham, AJ Pierzynski, Corey Hart and Omar FREAKIN’ Infante are all top 10 in OPS. First of all, who are these guys, and who keeps this up?

I would say that t… Read more...

Burning Qs for the 2012 MLB Season (Part 2)

The MLB season has partially gotten underway (16 teams have yet to throw a single pitch as of Friday morning), so to prep, we started our world famous internet renowned popular burning questions for 2012. We launched part 1 back on Wednesday, and here are, what we think, the most important questions from now until October.

Are the Rays the best team in the AL East?
BockerKnocker: No, of course not.


But they will give the Yankees and Red Sox fits, possibly all the way through game 162, just like last year. As everybody knows, Tampa’s rotation is one of the best in the bigs. David Price and James (dare I say “Big Game,” KOBEsh?) Shields form one of the best 1-2 punches in the game, but it is the #3 and #4 slots in the rotation that has the folks in Florida beaming. Matt Moore is probably the game’s brightest prospect right now, including The Bryce Harper Experience. Moore struck out 15 in 9+ innings last year and was credited with the Rays’ lone win against Texas in the ALDS. Then again, he struck out 15 in 9+ innings last year. To anoint this guy so quickly is problematic; not only will this be his first big league season, but he will probably be pitching on an innings limit. Following Moore will be an absolute stud in Jeremy Hellickson, who proved that he can win on the big stage last year. Hellickson posted an ERA under 3 in the vaunted American League East on the way to the Rookie of the Year award. Hellickson, however, had an awful spring, allowing an earned run per inning pitched. Veterans are usually able to shake off the effects of a horrendous spring training, but how the young buck deal with it remains to be seen.

Got to get it together, BJ

The pitching will carry the Rays all year. Even if a starter gets injured here and there, the team has some minor-league depth in Wade Davis and Alex Cobb. The problem for the Rays lies with their lineup card. The franchises in New York and Boston will produce hitting clinics all summer, featuring brand names like Cano, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Gonzalez, and Granderson. Tampa struggled to put runs on the board all year, so they did what any bat-starved team would do. They went out and signed Luke Scott, daily golden sombrero candidate and Rays retread Carlos Pena, and Jeff Keppinger. Nice. There are some familiar faces returning in Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist. But even if those guys have the years everyone knows they can have, the team will need breakout seasons from B.J. Upton (seriously, B.J., we’ve been waiting forever for one from you) and Desmond Jennings.

The Toronto Blue Jays have become somewhat of a sexy sleeper pick to make the playoffs with the extended wild-card format. The always dangerous Jose Bautista leads a decent hitting squad, especially at home, but the Jays just don’t have the firepower on the mound to make a significant move in this 3-horse race. The Baltimore Orioles round out the AL East, but they don’t deserve any more than 1 sentence because they lost to a COMMUNITY COLLEGE team on Tuesday.


Are we in any danger of seeing the Orioles, Pirates, Mariners or Royals ending their years-long futility?
KOBEsh: No, don’t be silly Peter Pan. But that doesn’t mean there’s not signs of life.

There’s not a team in that sad bunch of glorified minor league teams that I would guess play for better than third-place in their divisions, and that’s partially because the Mariners play in a four-team division.

Out of the four, the O’s have the greatest opportunity to continue their tradition of absolute abject suckitude. Looking at … Read more...

Arte Moreno’s Game Changer – Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson to the Angels

By far, this has been the craziest day in my sports watching lifetime. My work productivity was cut by at least 1/3, and my standing at the company has undoubtedly fallen, as my peers in the comic book industry wonder why I care so much about a guy named “Poo-holes” and another guy named “Pow Gassul”.

While this Laker-Hornets trade, or perhaps lack thereof (let’s give this a day before we call this deal absolutely dead, shall we?) is dominating the headlines, it feels like it’s been weeks since I learned that the two most prominent free agents in the MLB offseason, Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson, both signed massive deals with YOUR…Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

I’ve read a lot of reaction to the signings, positive and negative, but either way, there’s no denying that it’s the landmark move in the 8 year ownership of Arturo Moreno, and perhaps even in all of baseball in that same time frame. I’m going to go through a list of reaction I’ve heard today, and give my impressions on what this is and what this isn’t:


“Can you say LeBron?”

This is not a LeBron situation. In some effects, yes, it is, but in most it is not. Similarly, both players are considered the best, or at the very least amongst the best of their prospective professions. No matter what team they played for or what conference they were in, both these players were going to change the culture of not only the teams they played for, but even the cities and states that that team was in. Both men have won MVP awards, Pujols thrice and LeBron on two occasions.

But the difference is that Pujols left a winner; not just in that he is still washing the champagne from the locker room celebration and perhaps some other liquids from the post-locker room celebration, but in that he has done nothing but win titles and accolades his entire career in St. Louis. Unlike LeBron, who won two MVPs in his two last years of being in Cleveland, Pujols won his awards years apart (in 2005, 2008 and 2009). In a time where home run hitting first basemen are seemingly being farmed on a ranch somewhere, Pujols has emerged as a 6 time silver slugger, a 2 time Gold Glove winner and a 9 time All-Star. But more important than his own personal accomplishments were that of the team. The Cardinals went to the postseason a Jeter-ian 7 times in his 11 seasons, winning the pennant in 2004, 2006 and 2011, and the World Title in the latter two years. He managed to do all of this while putting up the same type of statistics in the playoffs that he did in the regular season (reminds me of someone else I just mentioned…oh wait. It doesn’t), with a 1.046 postseason OPS as opposed to his 1.037 OPS from April until September.

Quite honestly, there was nothing left for Albert to do in St. Louis. He didn’t tell the Cardinals over national television or leave them hanging for a year. He wanted to stay in St. Louis, but the deal just wasn’t there. True he left for a bigger market team, but he also left for a team that hasn’t won a pennant since 2002. Cardinals fans should rightfully be sad to see him go, but should be being thankful that they got to see one of the five best players of all time for 11 years.

Pujols leaving St. Louis today was nothing like LeBron leaving Cleveland. He gave everything he had, and it was more than enough. No one can say that of James.

“What a callous move”

This was not callous. First of all, let’s get this out of the way; the deal that the Angels gave Pujols was worth over $50 MILLION DOLLARS MORE than what th… Read more...

MAMBINO’s MLB Winter Meetings Thoughts

As excited as we are here at MAMBINO HQ about the forthcoming NBA season, we still have to give a little love to baseball, who was the sweet bedfellow that kept us warm and loved when we thought that games on Christmas were only things of BockerKnocker’s wet dreams. While the our NBA preview in the form of our 20 Burning Questions will go on, we have to pay a little respect to a pretty quiet offseason that has shown signs of life with the annual General Manager’s Winter Meetings in Texas. Let’s go over some news and notes from the past few days:

The Miami Marlins sign Jose Reyes to a 6-year, $106 million dollar deal

With a sparkling new stadium in downtown Miami, a entirely made-over brand identity and uniforms that Ricky Martin would call gay, the MIAMI Marlins needed to bring attention to the fact that they are a major market team that would be a player on the national sports scene. Jose Reyes, healthy or not, is the perfect player to launch this glorified marketing campaign with; he’s a good-looking, charismatic 28 year old, whose physical tools lead to the type of exciting play that are needed with a relatively fair-weather fan market. He is one of the best latin players in the league, coming to a city that feels like it’s not even a part of the continental United States. Hanley Ramirez, the Marlins’ incumbent shortstop, remains as one of the best spanish-speaking players in the National League. But with Reyes, you have a guy that not only can match his production, but also capture a much broader appeal with his charm and force of personality.

By the Marlins signing one of the marquee free agents this offseason, they are trying to send a message to players, agents and fans that they are no longer a team that’s going to exclusively purchase guys off the scrap heap and trade arbitration eligible rookies because of marginal raises. They are, for lack of a better term, legit. Even with Reyes’ questionable recent health history (an average of only 98 games in the past 3 seasons) – most notably injuries to his legs which would rob him of his most valuable asset, his speed – the gamble was well-worth it for a team that needed his likeness and stature in so many ways.

But don’t disregard the baseball part of the equation; when healthy last season (he still played in 126 games, by the way. No small feat), he was arguably the best player in the National League. He leads the league in triples since his arrival in the majors and is 3rd in stolen bases. Even while missing nearly a month of action, he still scored over 100 runs, hit a league-leading 16 triples with an .877 OPS, all while buoying a sometimes stagnant Mets offense featuring heavyweights like Lucas Duda, Ronny Paulino and Josh Thole.

The Marlins had to make a move like this. I think they made the best choice possible and for reasons beyond the ones on the field.

Albert Pujols offered a 10-year deal from the MIAMI Marlins

The Marlins are in the ultimate win-win situation here. By simply offering a contract to Pujols, they create the perception that this is a team that the baseball watching public needs to pay attention to, as money problems for the Dodgers and Mets have created a “big market vacuum” the Miami is all too obliged to fill. The Marlins offers stand there in the headlines alongside that of the Cubs and Cardinals, giving them a type of recognition that truly only money can buy. Even if Pujols doesn’t sign, the Marlins are simply reinforcing the fact that in addition to their Jose Reyes deal and signing of closer Heath Bel… Read more...

Albert Pujols breaks record, bones and principles of modern medicine

2 weeks ago, Albert Pujols suffered a small fracture in his wrist. The doctors expected him to miss at least 6 weeks and hoping he would resume baseball activities in 4 weeks. Instead, Albert turned the doctor’s prognosis into a Odalis Perez fastball – and absolutely annihilated it.

I’ve documented here on this blog that Pujols isn’t just the greatest player in the league; he’s one of the greatest players of all time. He might live to be the greatest player ev-ER. There is very rarely anything he does that amazes me anymore. But this newest “achievement” is just silly. He recovered from a fracture in his wrist in a third of the time that the doctors prescribed? Did his body spit on the aggregate accrued knowledge of no doubt half a dozen team doctors? Did he just say “f it” and inject super glue straight into his arm without any care of the consequences? Is Pujols secretly Wolverine in the offseason? What is going on?

I’d like to amend my post from January. Albert Pujols isn’t just one of the greatest athletes we’ve ever seen. The guy is one of the finest human specimens on the planet. The guy is built like 1985 Hulk Hogan with the reflexes of 1988 Michael Jordan and the toughness of the entire 1984 Chicago Bears team (and the ass of 1991 Cindy Crawford, my God….I meant….Christian wrote that). And now we’ve figured out that he can’t be kept down by any mortal injuries? Good lord. $300 million might not be enough for a guy that could play until he’s 55.

If something ever goes wrong – I’m talking worldwide disease, nuclear war, alien invasion, the apes take over, whatever – and we need to just create sturdy, physically gifted human beings, call in Pujols and one or both of the Williams sisters. I’m still only 45% sure we’d survive – I’ve seen the trailer for the Planet of the Apes movie. We’d be pretty screwed if the apes took over. Even with a Pujols/Williams monstro-baby that could dead lift 125 pounds upon birth.… Read more...

And thus Albert Pujols will be a free agent this winter

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2011/news/story?id=6127623

Wow. According to Jason Stark, the St. Louis Cardinals will not reach and agreement with Albert Pujols. This comes despite an outcry from St. Louis fans (even people that aren’t Cards fans, like myself) to sign this man who is the face of the franchise and one of, but more likely the best player in the game.

Stark reports that the Cardinals were not willing to extend Pujols the 10-year deal he asked for, nor the yearly salary of such a contract. Pujols was asking to be tendered a contract that would play him like the best player in the game. However, the Cardinals decided that they couldn’t pay him the biggest salary in the majors – in fact, they were offering him a deal that wouldn’t even pay him in the top 5!

Burn St. Louis to the ground. I’ve already gone over this. This situation is absolutely ridiculous. I can’t wait until he signs a massive deal in December with the Yankees, the Angels, the Nationals (since obviously the Dodgers are not in on him – that’s ridiculous. Don’t be ridiculous. If we’ve learned anything by reading this blog, it’s “don’t be ridiculous”), or, as a big, giant “EFF YOU” to the St. Louis Cardinals organization and John Mozeliak, with the Cubs.

Do it Albert – forget St. Louis. They don’t respect you, or your accomplishments. This much is obvious. Go forth brah.… Read more...

Everyone stop being ridiculous

In about 9 months, Albert Pujols could be a free agent. There has been a lot of speculation as to what type of contract he’ll be getting and thus, who his career comparables are. I’ve read a lot of people throw around numbers in Alex Rodriguez’s contract, which set the record a few years ago with the Yankees; 10 years, $275 million. I’ve heard people say Pujols could sign from anywhere between 8 and 10 years, and $240 to $300 million. Every writer I read is discussing the merits and demerits of giving any one person a contract like that. But I haven’t seen something I thought I would – disbelief and outrage. Disbelief and outrage that no matter what the contract is, the Cardinals must re-sign this guy. There is absolutely no amount of money or length of contract that should stop St. Louis from keeping him.

Let me put this out there – Albert Pujols is the best baseball player on the planet. It’s not a secret. Anyone who has watched the game can tell you that – no player on either end of the field affects the game more. There is no one player you have to account more than Pujols.

Whenever I think of guys like Albert, I try to put myself in a practical situation. If I’m a fan watching at home, which guy do I least want coming up in the 8th inning in the playoffs against my team trying to protect the lead? Who would strike the most fear in my Dodger Blue heart? That answer, without question, is Pujols. Albert Pujols absolutely terrifies me with a bat in his hands. When he stands up there at the plate, squatting low in his batting stance, I can see that his leg muscles are a cross between a hippopotamus and the Macho Man, circa 1988. When he holds up his right elbow right next to his head, I can see his freakish Popeye arms with enough power in them to light up Vegas for a week. Then, when he’s rocking back and forth, I can see his squint as he looks 60 feet, 6 inches at the guy about to throw him a ball. That squint says “I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast”. Pujols scares the crap out of me. More than any player should. He puts the “yep, wow, that was wetter than even I imagined it would be” fear of God into me. And that’s how I know he’s the best hitter in the game.

So the debate should end right there. It should be “this guy is the best player in the game. He should be paid like it. We should mortgage the farm, the kids, the car, the stadium and whatever else I got on this guy, because he is the one person in the league you bet on when your life is on the line”. That should be it. But even when I read other writers acknowledging this, there is still a bit of trepidation and again, the lack of disbelief and outrage that is emanating from this corner of the blogosphere. So let’s go a bit deeper.

My entire problem with this debate of “should be get paid $30 million”, “should he get a 10-year contract”, “will he capsize the Cardinals franchise”, et al is that this is not only the best player in the league, but he is one of the greatest ever. EV-ER (Pay him. I don’t care what it costs. Just pay the man. If the Yankees let Mickey Mantle leave in the 1950’s because it would cost too much, there would still be historians today saying “the Yankees could have won 8 titles if they had just paid up and kept one of the greatest ever to play the game. I can’t say “Pay him” enough times. I feel like Geena Davis in Beatlejuice. I wish I could say this phrase enough times until the fucking problem goes away).

When we’re talking about Pujols, I think it doesn’t do him justice to talk about a contract and look only at the player that has a comparable one. So, I took a look a… Read more...