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A day no bloggers would rant

June 6, 2011

Well. That was fun.

Albert Pujols—fully awake now, thank you very much—and the Cardinals’ broadcasters must have met in the hallway on Sunday morning and agreed to give Joe Buck one more demonstration of how a walk-off homer should be called. Even more delightfully, in the wake of yesterday’s triumph, Albert and his teammates put on a display of frisky elation befitting a bunch of Labrador retrievers at a hamburger giveaway. Watch the video, and understand that if you aren’t moved to hit the replay button at least once, you are either 1) the Grinch, or 2) a Cubs fan. (Yes, smart alecks, there is a difference between the two. The Cubbies never come away from their Winter Meetings with as much loot as the Grinch did from his.)

Number 5 will rightfully grab the headlines from yesterday’s game, but let’s take a moment to bask in a few of the other things that went right for the Redbirds:

  • The only real problem plaguing Chris Carpenter anymore is rotten luck. His nine sturdy innings were plenty good enough to merit a win—the lack of run support had more to do with Carlos Zambrano’s good stuff than with offensive ineffectiveness—and if he keeps pitching this way, the former Cy Young winner will almost certainly have his second W by, uh, the All-Star break.
  • After a week of mystifying personnel moves on and off the diamond, Tony La Russa worked around the absence of Holliday and Berkman with savvy and restraint. We’ll overlook the substitution of Tyler Greene for Skip Schumaker (I remain firmly of the opinion that Greene’s highest—perhaps only—calling in this game is as a designated runner, à la Herb Washington) and admire instead the swap of Tony Cruz for Yadier Molina, which gave Yadi’s ninth-inning leadoff single a chance to turn into a run without burning up a bench player who might be needed for extra frames.
  • How ’bout that Ryan Theriot? Yes, I still miss Brendan Ryan’s range, glove, and puppyish spirit, but isn’t it refreshing to have a legitimate lead-off hitter again? Theriot’s not the classic pesky speedster you might expect at the top of the lineup, but he works punishing at-bats, gets on base, and gets hits at key times, and his numbers compare respectably with the guys considered the best lead-off hitters in the game. See for yourself:

Ryan Theriot: .300 BA, .346 OBP, 64 hits, 12 BB, 4 steals, $3.3 million
Jacoby Ellsbury: .299 BA, .360 OBP, 70 hits, 18 BB, 22 steals, $2.4 million
Ichiro Suzuki: .264 BA, .318 OBP, 65 hits, 20 BB, 14 steals, $17 million
Rickie Weeks: .287 BA, .357 OBP, 68 hits, 22 BB, 7 steals, $3.5 million

  • Fernando Salas, who’d been making close observers nervous lately, worked a drama-free tenth inning to set the stage for Albert’s dramatics, and walked away with Chris Carpenter’s win as his reward.
  • Finally, for the Schadenfreude-seekers among us: a Big Z Blow-up as a bonus! Glad to see the Cubs still riding that potent combination of bad baseball, worse personalities, and near-total refusal to deal meaningfully with either at the managerial level. Sorry to disappoint the legions of North-siders dreaming of seeing Albert in Baby-Bear blue, but you’re about as likely to sneak the soul-crushing reality of the Cubs’ holy organizational mess past El Hombre as you are to sneak a late-inning, center-cut Rodrigo Lopez fastball past him.

An inspiring weekend to be a Cardinal fan, to be sure—and now the Redbirds move on to Houston, where perhaps Albert will jack a few more ill-advised pitches out of the park and drive another opposing hurler to distraction. It wouldn’t be the first time, you know.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2011 10:57 am

    For leadoff hitter, Theriot’s no Jose Reyes:
    .337BA, .386 OBP, 82 hits, 20BB, 19 steals, 10 triples
    and available in the off season, if not sooner.

    • fearlessleader permalink*
      June 6, 2011 11:11 am

      You’re right—he’s on pace for a career year (~50-point improvements on his career BA, OBP, and slugging) and I should have included him. But even if (as Fred Wilpon predicts) he doesn’t get “Carl Crawford money” next year, he’ll still be too pricey for the Cards, who would rather save their pennies to lock up the guy batting in the 3-spot!

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