Results tagged ‘ Yadier Molina ’

Game 85: Cardinals-Angels …

Cardinals (50-33)

STLMatt Carpenter, 2B
Carlos Beltran, RF
Matt Holliday, DH
Allen Craig, LF
Yadier Molina, C
Matt Adams, 1B
David Freese, 3B
Daniel Descalso, SS
Jon Jay, CF

SP: RH Adam Wainwright (11-5, 2.22 ERA)

Angels (40-44)

CALJ.B. Shuck, LF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, DH
Josh Hamilton, RF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Hank Conger, C
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: RH Joe Blanton (2-10, 5.07 ERA)

  • Mike Scioscia still won’t reveal who the Saturday starting pitcher is, but it’s still leaving heavily towards left-hander Michael Roth. Roth, once again, was not listed in the lineup sheet under the bullpen. He threw one inning on Wednesday, which would qualify as his bullpen day, and Scioscia said they won’t be calling someone up from Triple-A to make that start. “We have a couple contingencies we’re looking at,” Scioscia said, “but we’ll have a group of guys we can choose from for Saturday.” Billy Buckner worked 4 1/3 innings in Wednesday’s 12-2 loss, throwing 71 pitches, so no chance he gets the start. Garrett Richards pitched two innings, throwing 40 pitches. He could be a candidate, but Richards hasn’t been stretched out past three innings since moving back to the bullpen. Roth’s last seven appearances in Class A have been starts.
  • Conger is starting back-to-back games. He and Chris Iannetta now have the same amount of starts since June 12: 10.
  • Ryan Madson threw another bullpen session today. This is his fourth since he began getting off a mound every three days after a long stint of merely playing catch. Asked how many more bullpen sessions he needs before venturing out on a rehab assignment, Scioscia said: “It’s tough to say. We’ve tried to guess along the way and I think we’re past that. We just have to see how he comes out of it and we’ll go from there.”
  • Scioscia has been in awe of what Yasiel Puig has done with the Dodgers. He’s in agreement with a lot of others in that Puig many not have as much time in the big leagues to be All-Star worthy, but believes he may get in anyway, saying: “I think he’s got to go a little further to earn it. I don’t think Major League Baseball will discount what he’s done, even though it’s a limited amount of at-bats. There’s a pool now to bring the best talent into that game because of the bearing it has on getting home-field advantage for the World Series. That’s going to give him a deeper look than maybe it would’ve been in any other situation.”
  • Trout had 290 plate appearances in the first half last year; Puig has 116 with 11 games left. As for how their situations compare, Scioscia said: “These guys are doing things you very rarely see young players come up and do. He’s played to his potential at a young age. A lot of parallels you can draw in that regard.”
  • In case you hadn’t noticed, Trout has been wearing a shinguard on his left foot during plate appearances after fouling a ball off there on Tuesday. He said the shin is fine now, but he’s wearing the guard for extra protection because it doesn’t bother him when he hits.

Alden

Game 84: Cardinals-Angels …

Cardinals (49-33)

STLMatt Carpenter, 2B
Jon Jay, CF
Carlos Beltran, RF
Allen Craig, LF
Yadier Molina, C
Matt Adams, 1B
David Freese, DH
Daniel Descalso, 3B
Pete Kozma, SS

Pitching: RH Shelby Miller (8-6, 2.79 ERA)

Angels (40-43)

laaJ.B. Shuck, LF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, DH
Josh Hamilton, RF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Hank Conger, C
Erick Aybar, SS

Pitching: RH Jerome Williams (5-3, 3.21 ERA)

  • Is Hamilton dipping again, after quitting in the second half of last season? Video has shown what appears to be smokeless tobacco coming out of his mouth in a few at-bats, which might have been a route Hamilton took towards getting right at the plate again. Approached by reporters before Wednesday’s game, though, Hamilton wouldn’t comment. “I just don’t have any comments on it. It’s one of those things where if I give you guys any kind of story, your story’s going to be different from his story, your story’s going to be different from his story. And then other people who aren’t in this clubhouse, with you guys, are going to take your story and it’s going to be an absolute mess. No, nothing is coming from these lips [in terms of confirmation or denial over smokeless tobacco use]. … Until you actually see me reach in a bag of chewing tobacco, and pull it out, and put it in my mouth, then what’s in there?”
  • Asked about how much quitting smokeless tobacco might have affected him in a rough second half with the Rangers last year, Hamilton said: “I don’t know if you know this, but before I quit, I started sucking. That has absolutely nothing to do with it.”
  • Conger is back behind the plate, with Chris Iannetta sitting. Since June 12 (including today), Conger has started nine games. Iannetta has started 10. Asked if this was a platoon, Mike Scioscia said: “I think when you’re talking about a platoon, you’re talking more about offensive matchups, lefty-righty, things like that. There’s a bit of a time-sharing that’s been going on here in the last month and I think it’s been beneficial to both players. Both players want to be out there as much as they can, and it’s taken a little pressure off of Chris and given Hank a chance to contribute.”
  • Scioscia on the Rangers signing Manny Ramirez to a Minor League deal: “Manny still loves to play baseball. I don’t think you can argue that he’s gone to great lengths to show that he can still play. … We just saw some video on him, and that swing looks the same as it did when he was 30. He’s going to get another opportunity at some point, I’m sure.”
  • Scioscia wouldn’t say who’s starting on Saturday. He knows who he is, but he isn’t saying. “We have a plan,” is all he said. Michael Roth was not listed on the bullpen sheet today, so it could be him.
  • The Angels signed 16-year-old left-hander Ricardo Sanchez to kick off their international signings.

Alden

Pujols, on seeing his ex-teammates: ‘It’s weird.”

IMG_3021In case you hadn’t heard, the Cardinals are here. You know, that team Albert Pujols played a really long time for (11 years) and did a lot of things for (two World Series, three MVPs) and then left departed somewhat bitterly (eventually taking a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Angels).

Oh, so you knew already.

Well, it’s today. In a few hours. And a lot of media showed up to Angel Stadium to ask Pujols about it. Below are the highlights (for more info, here’s my story on the unavoidable storyline and Jen Langosch’s, on how the Cardinals have moved on so well) …

On his initial thoughts of facing the Cardinals: “Really exciting. I was able to hang around with my little brother, Yadier [Molina], yesterday and a couple of the guys. You can’t forget the success that you’ve had with those guys over the last 11 years there in St. Louis. To be able to win it in 2011 and have an opportunity to talk to them in the offseason, that’s something pretty special. That’s something that nobody can take away, how those fans in St. Louis treated me and everybody in the community, through my foundation. To have the success that I had there, that’s something nobody can take away from me.”

On seeing the Cardinals on the other side: “I was telling Yadier yesterday, it’s weird. These are three days that I won’t be able to root for them, because any time that I have an opportunity and I watch, I root for them. Some of them are my good friends. … I stay in touch with a lot of those guys. I faced those guys for 11 years in intrasquad in Spring Training, and now it’s just going to be a little bit more competition. They’re going to do their preparation to try to beat us today, and I’m going to do my preparation to try to beat them. I think it’s going to be a fun three-game series here.”

On what he regrets from his time in St. Louis: “To tell you the truth, I don’t really want to open those doors. I think we need to talk about our organization. I’m an Angel now, we’re playing really good over the last week or so, and I think my main focus is that, to think about what I can try to do today to help this ballclub win and not to open those doors of what happened two years ago. Because that’s over. There’s nothing I can do to flip the page and go back. I just need to move forward. They moved forward and I moved forward. I’m excited. Arte Moreno made a big commitment to bring me here to hopefully the success that I had there, to bring it to the city of Anaheim. And that’s my goal over the next nine years, including this year.”

On whether it gives him a competitive edge to see his old teammates: “They’re having a great season, we’re playing great, and it’s going to be a great week. But I’m just going to go out there, have fun, do what I have to do and play this game. I’m blessed to be able to play this game and I think God every day for the opportunity he gave me. But just because I have friends on the other side, that doesn’t add an extra chip on my shoulder to try to go out ther enad play the game, because you shouldn’t have that. You shouldn’t ever have that chip on your shoulder. You should play this game the right way because you love it, because you are blessed to have this opportunity to play, and that’s how I look at it every day.”

On the Angels honoring Stan Musial (by having his grandson throw the first pitch, wearing a patch on their BP jerseys and playing a video tribute): “I’m really excited. Stan was my buddy. I wish I would’ve had more of an opportunity to talk to him. .. .When he walked into that clubhouse, it was like the light was so bright. Everybody would stop what they’re doing.”

On the reaction from St. Louis natives when he visited the city in the offseason: “I think I ran into like 30,000 fans this offseason, and they were praising me, blessing me, and I was telling them the same thing. I was thankful for the support during my career there. My home is still there during the offseason, my foundation is still there, and I’ll be there until they kick me out.”

On whether he expected a bad reception in St. Louis: “Never in my mind that came through, because I knew what kind of fans St. Louis has. They’re true fans, they’re legit, and they respect what I did. Never in my mind. I walk in there in the offseason, I go all over. I’m not going to hide anywhere. I work out there. Nothing has changed. I know they were probably disappointed, but they have to learn to move on and they moved on without me and I’m here, to have hopefully the next 8 ½ years and bring as many championships as I can to this city.”

On the Cardinals doing well and the Angels struggling: “Trust me, it could be the opposite. They could be where we are, if you look records-wise and numbers-wise. This is more than just a game, you know. At the end of the day, it’s about my relationship with God and knowing that I’m in a good place. I told you guys, when I made my decision two years ago, I don’t have to look to the right or the left. I just need to look forward and know that I have peace with where God has put me. … I’m blessed to be able to play this game, and I was blessed to be in St. Louis for 15 years, now I’m here, and my goal is to try to continue to have the success that I’ve had there. There’s nothing I can do.”

On stepping into the box with Molina squatting behind him: “I can’t read the future, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. I’m human. I can tell you one thing, I’m going to do my routine. I’m probably going to hit the umpire and I’m going to hit him on the shin [with the tip of his bat]. Hopefully he tells me not to do it and maybe we can start a fight [jokingly, of course, a la Brandon Phillips].”

Alden

How Angels’ ‘Big 3′ stacks up in 2013 …

Josh Hamilton

I wrote recently about the Angels’ own prestigious “Big Three” of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton — how they could potentially hold up historically and in this era.

But how do they hold up in 2013? There’s little debate that the Angels now have the most talented and celebrated lineup trio in baseball, giving them arguably the game’s most potent offense. But I was a little stunned that their 2012 stats didn’t show it.

In fact, when combining each of their OPS from 2012, the Angels’ trio ranked third, behind those of the Tigers and Reds. Below is the top 15, based on combined OPS of the top three current players in each lineup (minimum is 400 plate appearances) …

  • Tigers (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson): 2.795
  • Reds (Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce): 2.759
  • Angels (Trout, Pujols, Hamilton): 2.752
  • Brewers (Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart): 2.729
  • Red Sox (David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli*): 2.635
  • Blue Jays (Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera): 2.627
  • Cardinals (Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina): 2.627
  • Rangers (Adrian Beltre, David Murphy, A.J. Pierzynski): 2.607
  • Rockies (Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Tyler Colvin): 2.602
  • Pirates (Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez): 2.569
  • D-backs (Aaron Hill, Paul Goldschmidt, Jason Kubel): 2.565
  • Yankees (Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira): 2.547
  • Twins (Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit): 2.532
  • Giants (Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt): 2.527
  • Dodgers (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez): 2.524

* Napoli’s deal still hasn’t been finalized. 

** A special thanks to all of you for making this blog the 10th-most popular among MLB.com beat writers in 2012. You’re the whipped cream on my sundae. 

Alden 

6 Divisions in 6 Days, Day 3 …

Leading up to Opening Day, I’ll roll out an All-Star team for each of the six divisions in baseball — that includes a manager, a starting nine (with a DH also for the National League), three starters and two relievers. One catch: Each team must have at least one representative, and the skipper doesn’t count. Feel free to submit your own lineups below. I’d love to see how yours differ.

Day 3: NL Central
Probably the most wide-open division in baseball (except you can probably count out the Astros).

Manager: Dusty Baker, CIN

Lineup

Andrew McCutchen, CF (PIT)
Starlin Castro, SS (CHC)
Ryan Braun, LF (MIL)
Joey Votto, 1B (CIN)
Matt Holliday, RF (STL)
Aramis Ramirez, 3B (MIL)
Carlos Lee, DH (HOU)
Yadier Molina, C (STL)
Brandon Phillips, 2B (CIN)

Rotation

Chris Carpenter, STL (if healthy)
Yovani Gallardo, MIL
Adam Wainwright, STL

Bullpen

Joel Hanrahan, PIT
John Axford, MIL

Alden

A look at some struggling stars

Maybe the world did end on May 21 and this is some Twilight Zone-ish parallel universe we’re living in, because there’s plenty about the first two months of this baseball season that just doesn’t seem too, well, Earth-y.

Carl Crawford has a .269 on-base percentage?

Adam Dunn‘s batting average is .180?

Albert Pujols sports a .745 OPS?

Hanley Ramirez is hitting .210?

Dan Uggla is following it up with a .175 clip?

I can’t figure it out. But I did find it interesting that almost all of these guys — with the exception of Hanley — are either in the first or final year of their current deals. With a new contract comes pressure, with an expiring one comes uncertainty. Could that be to blame?

Nobody can know for sure. But here’s a closer look at The Mystifying Five …

Crawford

We’ve seen spurts, little flashes in the pan that the Red Sox’s new left fielder is getting back to being the electrifying player he was for so long in Tampa Bay. There was an 11-game hitting streak at the beginning of May that saw him bat .356, a few walk-offs sprinkled in, and back-to-back four-hit games on May 25 and 26.

But still, the consistency has lacked for one of the most consistent — and now richest — players in baseball.

Terry Francona has protected Crawford a bit by keeping him away from the top of the order since his dreadful start, batting him sixth recently. Upon being named American League Player of the Week on Tuesday, Crawford  sounded upbeat, saying: “I’m feeling a lot better. I’m feeling a lot more comfortable at the plate. Things are slowing down for me a lot. I feel like it’s definitely gotten better for me from the way I started off.”

But after May 26, Crawford has notched just three hits in a span of 20 at-bats, and thus the inconsistencies continue.

From 2003-10, Crawford hit .299 with a .340 on-base percentage and averaged 50 steals per season. But heading into Thursday, he had drawn just eight walks (though he’s not really known for that anyway), had stolen just seven bases and had notched just 50 hits in 224 plate appearances.

I thought he’d be a perfect fit for Fenway Park and that lineup (and still do), and I know he’s one of the hardest-working players in baseball. Is playing in a big market and with a big contract for the first time a factor?

It’s at least a fair question.

Dunn

Dunn (pictured up top by The Associated Press) has struckout an AL-high 71 times, has hit just five homers (he had 10 at this time last year) and has batted just .088 — yes, .088 — against lefties.

Because of that, the man who was  supposed to be that big lefty bat the White Sox have been missing since Jim Thome left has been sitting against tough lefties and has jumped around in the batting order.

Dunn, a real standup guy and one of my favorite players to talk to, said this recently: “I’m normally pretty good at not letting things affect me too much. This has been one of the tougher things for me. I don’t know why it is. I know I’m coming to a new team, we’re not playing very well, and I feel I’m a big part of why we’re not doing well. I think that weighs a little more on me than in the past.”

Two Sox teams, two star players acquired in the offseason, two unexpected records largely because of their struggles.

Pujols

Who knew. Even with Adam Wainwright missing the season with Tommy John surgery, the Cardinals are in first place thanks to the contributions of Yadier Molina (.320 batting average) and Lance Berkman (1.044 OPS), and not Pujols.

Considering Pujols is insanely focused, is in a walk year and is the greatest hitter on the planet, I was expecting numbers like .782 batting average, 91 homers, 256 RBIs this year. But, by Gosh, he’s human!

Pujols — he who has averaged a .331 clip, 41 homers and 123 RBIs every year heading into this one — is hitting only .262 with nine homers and 31 RBIs. I mean, they’re not terrible numbers. But they’re nowhere near Pujols-like.

I keep waiting for him to break out, but it just hasn’t happened yet. Is it possible that  future uncertainty has impacted the production of a man nicknamed “The Machine”?

Possible. But I still think his numbers will be solid by the end of the year, and I still wouldn’t be surprised if he signed for record money somewhere.

Ramirez

Ramirez is off to the worst start of his career, and now that he’s nursing what seems to be rather serious lower back pain, it may only get worse.

Ramirez, out since Sunday, has only a .306 on-base percentage, has hit only four home runs and has been caught stealing six times. Meanwhile, he continues to get dinged up, and he gets a little bigger every offseason.

I’m wondering how this affects talks of him switching positions.

Hanley wants to continue to play shortstop for obvious reasons — because he loves it, because it’s pretty much all he’s ever known, and because it makes him even more valuable when he hits free agency again. But the Marlins have too much invested and too little revenues to not try to get the most out of the $70 million deal they signed him to two years ago.

Ramirez’s 2010 season — when he batted .300 with 21 homers, 76 RBIs and 32 stolen bases — was solid, but a disappointment for him. Would Hanley be able to produce more if he moved to a less-demanding position? He’s never been great defensively, and the Marlins — with no disrespect meant to the fine season Greg Dobbs is having — have a hole at third base.

Just a thought.

Uggla

And that brings me to Ramirez’s teammate, who signed a five-year, $62 million contract with the Braves I never thought he’d land.

Look, Uggla has always been a slow starter (.440 career batting average in April, his lowest for any month) and besides last year, he’s never really hit for a high batting average (.257 from 2006-09).

You’d think Uggla would’ve gotten hot by now, though.

But he seems to have been getting progressively worse.

Over his last 12 games, Uggla has gone just 3-for-40 while striking out eight times and walking only once. Now, his batting average is the lowest it’s been since April 16.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez knows about Uggla’s early-season struggles very well. But recently, upon batting him seventh after giving him a couple of mental days off, Gonzalez admitted Uggla’s previous slow starts have been “nothing like this.”

“The thing he needs is a couple of balls to fall in,” he added. “For me, that’s all he needs. He’s unlucky at times. You hate to say he’s unlucky because he’s hitting [.175], so how unlucky can it be? But sometimes [the unluckiness] just starts piling on.”

I’ll leave you on this note: I’ve been getting the feeling that Uggla has never really thrived with the attention on him. He’s always been an under-the-radar guy as a Rule 5 product, always played in a small market in Florida with a reasonable contract; then he had that dreadful All-Star Game performance at Yankee Stadium in ’08, and now he’s struggling under the weight of a big contract.

I hope I’m wrong.

Alden

** What I wrote recently: The talent pool at catcher is growing awfully shallow; and Mets manager Terry Collins faces a kind of challenge he never foresaw.

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