Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Morning After on TSE - 7.11.2007

Update: Aaron Rowand made the last out of the ballgame, and I forgot to analyze that. All told, I still think you give credit to the All-Stars who made the lineup and give them the chance, even if Pujols is available. Rowand is currently hitting at a higher clip than Hudson is and with more HRs, though Pujols could probably play CF more effectively (though there may be some issues covering the real estate at AT&T Park) than 2B.

Another "if and but", however, for if Rowand hits a single then we wouldn't be talking about this at all. But I realize the point and I thank commenter JPatterson89 for pointing this out, though his comment has since been deleted (not by me).

Welcome, friends, to what is widely regarded as the worst day in sports. With no baseball, football (arena or otherwise), basketball (of note) or hockey today, it's bound to be awfully slow around this and every other sports-related sector of the blogospheres. But the morning shouldn't be too bad because there was a pretty good All-Star Game (ASG, because I'm tired of writing out the full phrase) last night and it is worth writing about. So here we go.

What in the name of God was Tony La Russa thinking?

Here he is, manager of the National League All-Stars, there because his Cardinals won the previous year's World Series, with Albert Pujols, the guy who got him there, ready to bat with two gone and the bases juiced in the bottom of the ninth inning, down by a run. So what does La Russa do? In many estimations, he must have done what he did in spring training again, as Albert sat and Orlando Hudson popped to Alex Rios to end the game. Because of that, Albert isn't talking to Tony and Tony will be inundated with "why not" questions from here until the season's conclusion.

But I am willing to stand up in defense of the Cardinal skipper. Here are (with no apologies to ESPN Classic) the top 4 reasons you can't blame Tony La Russa for not bringing in Albert Pujols.

1. J.J was a Putz and K-Rod was more like BB-Rod.
The AL's choice for closers weren't exactly skilled marksmen in that final half-inning. Putz gave up the HR to Soriano on a badly hanging breaking ball and Rodriguez was doing triple salchows after each pitch. Anything hit in the immediate direction of the pitcher's mound would have either knocked off a turned-around K-Rod or simply zipped through the infield. But that would, of course, mean that K-Rod would have had to throw a hittable pitch, which was done very rarely.

2. Pujols was too valuable to use (almost).
Albert Pujols is a very powerful card to have in one's hand. He's like the left Bauer in a game of Euchre: if he's not played right, it can cost you the hand and maybe the game. Sure, Pujols could have come in and walked or hit a single to tie the game, which may have happened, but in such a case, that would mean Albert Pujols would have to come in on defense, as La Russa was out of reserves. And he probably would have had to play second base for Orlando Hudson. Unless Pujols were to win it with one swing, then putting him in might have been too costly in the next half-inning. And why should Tony La Russa care about the ASG? The Cards probably won't be taking advantage of that home field advantage that was up for grabs last night. In La Russa's mind, it was probably better to keep his star rested for the benefit of his team.

3. Give Orlando Hudson some love, folks (Aaron Rowand, too).
It's not like Orlando Hudson had to beg to make this squad or was given a spot based on ballot-stuffing fans (cough, Ivan Rodriguez, cough). He's batting a shade under .300 for his season and 20 of his 96 hits (21%) are doubles. He's knocked in 47 RBIs and has walked 47 times. In the field, he has 9 boots, but that's probably better on the average than Pujols at the same position. Bottom line: he's having a very good year for a good D'Backs team and saying that Pujols should have almost automatically been substituted for him doesn't give Hudson anywhere near the credit he deserves. If the substitution had to be made, Aaron Rowand is the more logical substitute.

4. Finally, Dad is (almost) always right.
The Old Man used to tell me, "if 'ifs' and 'buts' were candy and nuts, everyday would be Christmas". We'll never know what would have happened if La Russa had put in his star in the bottom of the ninth. He may have gone yard or he may have flied out to right. Fact of the matter is, La Russa did what he thought was right at the time. Whether or not the two will ever speak to one another again, that remains to be seen.

1 comment:

JPatterson89 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.