Results tagged ‘ Tony La Russa ’

NLDS Game 3 tidbits: Optimism on Holliday

* Matt Holliday took batting practice on the field today and said that he’s definitely improving in his recovery from tendinitis in his right hand. He had not been hitting on the field, and in the past couple of days had not been hitting pregame at all. He is considered available to pinch-hit and there seems to be at least some hope that he could do more than that at some point. I’ll have a good bit more on this on the site later this afternoon.

* TLR acknowledged that, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he was fined for his remarks on television during Sunday night’s game. He expressed contrition and said he had no issue with the discipline.

* Today’s lineup is the same as Sunday’s, except that Lance Berkman is back in right field with Allen Craig in left. And, of course, Jaime Garcia on the mound.

* Today is the birthday of both TLR and Kyle Lohse.

And, finally, the playlist, which is the last five songs of “Exile On Main Street” today. Just because.

“Let it Loose”
“All Down the Line”
“Stop Breaking Down”
“Shine a Light”
“Soul Survivor”

-M.

Cardinals on the… festivities

My friend and colleague Adam McCalvy has a blog post up with what the Brewers had to say tonight. And a little later at Cardinals.com and Brewers.com, there will be a longer story that covers the whole incident during the ninth inning tonight.

 

In the meantime, though, here are what the principal Cardinals had to say after the game:

 

TLR: “Rarely do I comment about another player, because it’s not appropriate. Milwaukee should comment about their players and we should comment about ours. But he [Nyjer Morgan] is having a good year for them, he’s a talented guy, but he’s close to the edge as far as creating problems and trouble. It takes away from the player that he’s been for them or wherever he’s been with his fuse being so short and actually looking for things to instigate. So I hope he gets a clue. And he probably is going to get upset, or somebody will, that I gave advice, but it’s the truth. It’s the truth. He could be the player he is without instigating.”

Carpenter: “I don’t know. I’m not going to go there. He’s a good player who plays with some serious talent. He just plays the game a different way.

(could you hear him talking?) “I didn’t know anything was going on until I heard Albert.”

(did you realize he’d thrown his chew at you?) “I didn’t see that until the replay.”

“I’m not concerned about it to be honest with you. … I’m not going to play his game. There’s a certain way to compete and a certain way not to compete. He competes hard but he does it in a different manner, which is unfortunate because it takes away from what kind of player he is. He is a really good player.”

(were you consciously staying out of it as the benches cleared?) “Well, the umpire came up and was like, ‘Don’t go in there.’ I didn’t really know what was going on, and then the umpire came in and was like, ‘Don’t go over there.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not going to waste my time with that.’ I’m just not going to waste my time with it.”

(was it hard to maintain or regain your focus?) “I was focused on what I was doing. I was focused on executing pitches and I’m not going to allow him to take me out of my game. He was yelling at me at second base. He was yelling at me down the line when he hit the double. The whole game he’s screaming and yelling, the whole game. I’m not going to allow it [getting distracted] to happen. I don’t know if that’s the way he plays, to try to get guys out of their game or what. But I’ve been around too long to allow that to happen, I can tell you that much.”

Pujols: “Last game of the series, of the season with those guys, we’ve been playing great [games] all year, and I have so much respect for those guys on the other side. They play the game hard every time and yeah, you’ve got about a month ago a couple of miscommunications, couple of guys getting hit by pitches, myself and Braun, but when that is over, you flip the page. I just got in the middle to make sure that Morgan didn’t jump on Carp. The last thing you want is our guy that’s trying a shutout game to lose his focus.

“I actually like that guy [Morgan]. I don’t mind having a guy like that on my team. He brings a lot of energy to the ballclub, and you want to have a guy like that. But sometimes I think he goes [a little overboard] and tries to put too much energy. I remember when he came up with Pittsburgh, the guy just played the game, played hard all the time, never talks. And now you wonder why he’s been on three different ballclubs the last year and a half, you know?”

(note: Pujols actually said “over the little board,” but obviously he meant “a little overboard.”)

(Carpenter said he was yelling all night) “Every time. every time. When he hit that double he was screaming. Yesterday he screamed, a couple days ago when he hit that… Which I don’t mind. Do whatever you want. But when you strike out like that and try to throw the chew the mound to our pitcher and yell, come on man. You need to be more professional than that.

“I’m nobody to judge, because I’ve made my mistakes sometimes so I’m not going to throw the first rock. Everybody’s got their own issues. all I have to worry about is myself, take care of myself. I don’t care what anybody else does in this game.”

-M.

Friday camp tidbits: The circus has left town

It finally felt like Spring Training today.

As TLR walked up to the diminished group of reporters, he quipped, “I’m sorry I’m late. I thought it was all over.”
And then he went into a 40-minute chat with the scribes, covering all sorts of ground. Heck, I even saw some batting practice and bullpen sessions today! So let’s talk baseball, rather than contracts.
* The Cardinals will be announcing some news with Jim Edmonds later today. FOX Sports Midwest is reporting that the news will be that Edmonds is giving up his comeback attempt, though it was unclear whether that meant he’s actually retiring or merely pushing things back for a while. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, meanwhile, just reported that Edmonds is in fact retiring.
Either way, TLR said we won’t be seeing Edmonds here tomorrow at the least.
* La Russa flew up to Atlanta last night for a function with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, an event also attended by Gen. Hal Moore. 
* According to the manager, David Freese should expect to play two out of every three games for a good portion of the season. Asked if he’d be pleased with Freese getting 110 starts this year, La Russa said he’d be just fine with that.
* TLR spoke yesterday with Tyler Greene about playing center field. He’s excited about the possibility of seeing Greene in the outfield.
* As we were standing around talking, several home run balls from a batting practice session peppered the media session and the bullpen mounds. Upon realizing that it was Ryan Theriot launching the blasts, La Russa joked, “That’s either a good sign or a bad sign.”
Today’s playlist:
Keith Richards, “Wicked As It Seems”
The Clash, “Clampdown”
Sugar, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind”
Screaming Trees, “Nearly Lost You”
Nirvana, “Serve the Servants”
-M.

Wednesday TLR Tidbits

I have a story going up soon on Cardinals.com on TLR’s chat with reporters today, but I also wanted to blog a few extra tidbits that didn’t make it into that story.

* He made it sound like the club is leaning very strongly toward playing Lance Berkman in right field, rather than shifting Matt Holliday and playing Berkman in left.
The quote: “Lance has played more right field than he’s played anything. So I think our plan is to go into Spring Training with Matt playing left and Lance working in right.”
* At this point, the manager does not consider Berkman a platoon player.
“I think he’s an everyday player against everybody. You know, there were a couple of years there where his numbers were down. Last year’s…  You know, he can hit, he can just plain flat hit, so…”
* He said that Allen Craig will in fact play a great deal of third base this spring.
“He proved last year he could play in the outfield. So last year he took very little work at third base, took a lot of work in the outfield. It’s going to be the opposite this year.  He’s going to get enough outfield times where he keeps reading balls. But he’s going to get a lot of work at third base because I think even if  we’re assuming David’s going to be fine, there will probably be days that David should not push it. There’s playing time for Allen, so that’s a good question, and he’s going to get more work at third base.”
-M.

Notes of the night/Stats of the day, Aug. 23

Hello, all…

Back from a great mini-vacation in the Smoky Mountains, and coming to you live from Pittsburgh. I’ve been far too negligent about writing on the blog lately, so hopefully this serves as a nice, meaty return.
Note of the Night, 1: Monday night marked TLR’s 1300th win as the manager of the Cardinals, extending his own franchise record. For some perspective, there are only 27 other managers in the history of the game who won 1300 games total. Of those 27, 18 are in the Hall of Fame. La Russa reached that number after already establishing himself as one of the game’s top managers in two other stops.
La Russa became the 12th manager in history to win 1300 games with one team. And, typically, he brushed it off when it was brought up.
First, he sincerely didn’t know. As he was holding his postgame news conference, he received a text message congratulating him on the milestone. He asked me and Rick Hummel if the stat was true. Told that it was, here’s what he had to say:
“It’s a real nice number. It’s called longevity. That’s the reason for the number. Our fans are not happy with that number because we’re not in first place.”
Note of the Night, 2: TLR reached a round number on Monday, while Albert Pujols got closer to one. He’s one homer away from 400. But he insisted it’s not something he has to work to keep out of his mind.
“You don’t play for numbers,” he said. “It’s a great milestone, but I’m not thinking about it. I hope it will come with a great win with our ballclub. That’s what I play for. I thank God that I was able to hit it today in the first inning, to give a little bit of cushion for Kyle.
“It’s something that, yes, it’s a big milestone, but you get 400, you want to get 400 more I guess. I play one day at a time, one year at a time.”
There’s a pretty decent chance he reaches it this week, and even in the next two games. He’s torrid, and he crushes the ball in Pittsburgh.
Note of the Night, 3: Allen Craig had no warning he was going in to play second base on Monday night. He could do the math and figure out he might be the choice, but it wasn’t like he was given a heads up.
He didn’t mind.
“I was hoping I’d get [a play],” Craig said.
TLR said he had no hesitation to give Craig a look there.
“He’s an infielder,” the manager said. “I played second base, how tough can it be?”
Stat of the Day, 1: Yadier Molina is batting .348 since the All-Star break with a .395 on-base percentage.

Stat of the Day, 2: Matt Holliday has 206 doubles since the start of the 2006 season, the most in the Major Leagues.
Stat of the Day, 3: According to the amazing and invaluable Play Index at Baseball-Reference.com, and my hand-calculations based on that resource, Monday marked the 14th game in ujols’ career in which he’s come to the plate needing a triple for the cycle.
He’s had a single, double, and homer in the same game I believe 26 times, but it’s the 14th game that he’s done it and then come to bat with a chance to finish the deal. Three of those times, he’s homered.
Fun with Double Situational Splits: Since the All-Star break, Brendan Ryan is batting .368 with a .400 OBP and a .447 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers.

And, finally, the playlist:
How about a road special for the beginning of a long road trip? And while we’re at it, let’s go 10 songs for a 10-game trip.
Willie Nelson, “On the Road Again”
Black Crowes, “Wiser Time”
Bob Seger, “Turn the Page”
Bruce Springsteen, “Thunder Road”
The Who, “Going Mobile”
Metallica, “Wherever I May Roam”
Rolling Stones, “All Down the Line”
Chuck Berry, “You Can’t Catch Me”
Pearl Jam, “Rearviewmirror” (single greatest driving song ever, IMO)
Johnny Cash, “I’ve Been Everywhere”
-M.

Chess Match: Playing for the win

The situation: Runner on first base, no outs, bottom of the ninth inning. Cardinals trail by one. Francisco Cordero pitching and Jon Jay at the plate.


The decision: TLR lets Jay swing away, rather than bunting.

The outcome: Jay hits into a double play, pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick flies out and the game is over.

The analysis:
For TLR, this came down to a strategic decision, not a tactical one. The question was, whether he should play for one run and the tie, or two runs and the win. He elected to play for the win.
His reasoning was that with P.J. Walters having only pitched four innings and the bullpen having been stretched thin, he was much better off trying to end the game right away. 
Using Ryan Franklin for the eighth and ninth, despite a deficit, was a pretty good indicator that TLR had no interest in using Kyle McClellan or Jason Motte unless he could absolutely avoid it, so it’s clear that he was managing by this philosophy throughout the late innings. 
So the question is whether you buy the philosophy. Because if you agree strategically, then the tactics are sound. If you don’t buy the underlying principle, then you’re going to argue vociferously for a bunt — or at the very least, some kind of motion to avoid the double play.

The comment: “Well, we don’t have the deepest situation, do we? I mean we don’t really have any other pitchers we wanted to use, so we are going to try and win the game. Left-handers are hitting .300 against [Cordero]. Jay was having a heck of a day and he is tough to double. I mean, I don’t even think it’s a tough call.
“I think playing for a tie would be a really dumb idea with what we’ve got. I mean, who’s going to pitch the tenth? If we had tied it in some way, then we would have got Kyle [McClellan] out there or somebody. But I think you have to play for the win.”

My verdict: As you likely know by know, my general strategic bent is in the Earl Weaver vein: pitching, defense and the three-run homer. I hate giving away outs, I hate playing for one run unless the situation absolutely demands it, and I hate giving a pitcher his first out. We’ve been over this ground, probably ad nauseam for some of you.
But at the time, I thought the bunt was really a slam-dunk. You play for the tie at home, and with Ludwick available to pinch-hit, you would seem to have a good chance of getting that runner home. 
Still, the more I think of it, the more I can at least see the strategy. They’re pretty clearly worried about keeping McClellan from being overused. It’s come up a few times this year. And Motte has pitched a great deal lately, so being careful with him one time is not a bad idea either.
They really got into the tight position by getting a total of one inning out of Dennys Reyes and Blake Hawksworth. If Reyes could have gotten through the seventh, and Hawksworth the eighth and maybe more, then it’s less of an issue. But if he was really, truly committed to saving those two relievers — an understandable goal — then it’s a defensible decision.
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, June 1

Note of the night: You may have noticed that the bulk of the damage done against Cardinals pitching on Tuesday night came at the hands of a familiar hitter: Scott Rolen. The former Cardinal hit two home runs and a double to spearhead the Reds’ attack against P.J. Walters and the St. Louis bullpen.

Asked after the game about Rolen, La Russa had a comment that could be taken a couple of different ways. 
“He’s healthy and we have seen that,” La Russa said. “He’s an outstanding player when he’s healthy. He’s playing outstanding for them. 
“Probably their manager’s getting more out of him than I did. I know people are going to speculate that and it’s probably true. I’m sure it’s true. When he’s healthy — and he’s healthy – he’s an outstanding player.”
Now, you can take that as a really direct shot across Rolen’s bow, essentially accusing him of dogging it. Or you can take it as an attempt at the sort of self-deprecation that TLR does sometimes.
My read on it was that he did not intend the more sinister suggestion. Other people I asked in the press box disagreed. I’m sure some of you saw it on TV, so I’d be curious what you thought.
Stat of the day: The Cardinals lost for only the third time all year in a game where Colby Rasmus scored a run. They’re 19-3 when Rasmus scores. By contrast, they’re 18-6 when Albert Pujols scores, and 17-6 when Matt Holliday scores.
Fun with double situational splits: David Freese is batting .409 and slugging .667 against right-handers at home this year.
And, finally, the playlist:
This is an exact five-song sequence that came up on my iPhone this afternoon. Good stuff.
The Hold Steady, “The Weekenders”
Drive-By Truckers, “Home Field Advantage”
Guns N’ Roses, “Used To Love Her”
U2, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (live, off “Rattle & Hum”)
Blur, “There’s No Other Way”
-M.

The first blog entry of the rest of my life: Chess match

Thanks very much for the feedback on the post from last week. Got a lot of different request, but one thing that a couple of different people mentioned was tactical stuff. Also some mentions of stats, and some inside-baseball stuff.

The personal/clubhouse/off-field stuff will be tough to make a regular feature. That happens when it happens. But some of the other, we can do pretty regularly — especially tactics. So I’m going to start trying to blog postgame more often, with stats, tactics, and things like that. Please do offer feedback, let me know if this is what you want to see here.
One feature we do at MLB.com in the playoffs is called “Chess Match,” and it’s a breakdown of some tactical turning points. I’m going to try to do one for each game. Here’s tonight’s. There’s more to follow.
The situation: Runners on first and second, no outs, tie game, bottom of the second inning, Yadier Molina at bat vs. Tim Hudson
The decision: TLR calls for a hit-and-run on the 1-1 pitch to Molina

The outcome: Molina swings and misses at a pitch in the dirt and Matt Holliday is easily thrown out at third base.

The analysis: The argument against this play, to me, is pretty clear: Hudson had given up three straight base hits (Albert Pujols was thrown out trying to take an extra base to end the previous inning), and I’ve made my feelings known about giving away an out when the pitcher is begging for a lifeline.
The argument in favor of it, though, is compelling too: Molina is extremely unlikely to swing-and-miss, so odds are he’s going to put the ball in play. He’s always a double-play candidate against nearly any pitcher, and doubly so against a groundball machine like Hudson, so by sending the runners you’re decreasing the chances of that bad outcome. And of course if it goes for a base hit, you’ve got the lead.
The comment: “Hudson’s a groundball pitcher. How many outs did he get on the ground? You sit around with a runner on first, [it’s likely to be a] double play. The one that I kick myself on was the reason we got into that. Yadi had no chance on that [pitch]. It was a hit-and-run. But on 3-1 [in the previous at-bat], I didn’t run Holliday. If I had run Holliday, then he’d have been standing on third and we’d have first and third, nobody out. so that was really something that I regretted.” – La Russa

My verdict: I wouldn’t have done it. But the more I rolled it around in my head, and after hearing the explanation, I at least see where TLR was coming from.
-M.

Monday Warm-Up tidbits: Lohse, Wainwright, plenty more

The Winter Warm-Up is wrapping up and it’s almost time for the Writers’ Dinner. Here are some tidbits from another busy day. Hard to remember a Warm-Up with this much news.

* Kyle Lohse said he’s had a normal winter and hasn’t felt anything at all in his forearm since about two weeks after the season ended. He’s on his usual program and has no worries about how he will feel once he starts throwing off a mound.
“I’ve been playing catch for two weeks, and it’s like a normal this-part-of-the-year for me,” he said. “I’m not doing anything different right now. A couple weeks ago I was making sure I was doing a little extra exercises to make sure the strength was still there and I didn’t feel any tightness or any of the feelings I was feeling last year. And I wasn’t feeling it, so I feel good about where I’m at.”
* Likewise, Adam Wainwright said he’s taken no extra precautions or extra rest after enduring a career-high workload in 2009.
“I actually felt a lot more healthy during the season than I ever have, to be honest with you,” Wainwright said. “I stayed on my training program with Pete Prinzi a lot better, a lot more consistent with my work ethic between starts. I think that made me feel better each and every start I made. And actually I felt better at the end of the season than I did at the beginning. 
“So when I got done with this season, I felt like I was in better shape than I’ve ever ended a season. My body seemed to recover really well. We’ll see about, I haven’t got off the mound yet but my arm feels great, my body feels great. I’m the strongest I’ve ever been. I haven’t done anything different. It’s the same program I’ve been doing for years. It seems to be working OK. I don’t think I’ll change it.”
* La Russa said that if the Cardinals only make one move, he ranks a hitter as a higher priority than a pitcher — and ideally, a hitter who could play third base and the outfield. Felipe Lopez comes to mind.
“We’re talking about creating a competition at third,” he said. “We can use some outfield depth. If you only have one bullet, [you’d like] a guy that can do both those things.
“When you have some of the possibilities we have — like with Kyle [McClellan], with [Mitchell] Boggs, with [Blake] Hawksworth — if you have the resources, I think right now, in my opinion, probably a position player has a slightly higher priority than a pitcher.”
* Allen Craig said he’s been taking some balls at third base, after playing in the outfield all last year. That may be another way they create competition for David Freese at third, though I’m still skeptical as to whether the organization really takes Craig seriously as a third baseman.
Playlist:
U2, “Pride (In the Name of Love)”
Public Enemy, “By the Time I Get to Arizona”
Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A Changin'”
Marvin Gaye, “Abraham, Martin and John”
Sam Cooke, “A Change Is Gonna Come”
-M.

Edmonds to return?

Maybe Jim Edmonds was dead serious. Maybe it was all an elaborate put-on. When it comes to Edmonds and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, it can be tough to tell. This much is certain: Edmonds said on Sunday night that he wants to come back and play for the Cardinals in 2010.

The long-time Angels and Cards star hasn’t played since 2008. Before that year, St. Louis traded him to San Diego. After the Padres released him, he signed on with the Cubs, with whom he played his last game on Sept. 26, 2008.

On Sunday night at the annual “Stars to the Rescue” benefit for La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, Edmonds said he was “challenging” La Russa to let him rejoin his old team.

The exchange started after the final bows for the event, which featured country star Dierks Bentley and comedienne Kathleen Madigan, among others. La Russa said that “someone” had sent him a text and wanted to come onstage. That someone turned out to be Edmonds, who made his way from his seat at the opposite end of the arena.

Edmonds took the microphone with a grin and addressed the crowd.

“I’m challenging him to let me come back and play for the Cardinals
again for free,” Edmonds said to the crowd at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.

Edmonds then modified his offer to playing for the league minimum, rather than for free. He and La Russa engaged in some playful banter, and at the end, La Russa quipped that he wished he had a rewind button so that he could simply skip Edmonds appearance — but he said it with a grin.

The Cardinals could use a backup center fielder as well as a left-handed bat off the bench, and there have been rumblings that Edmonds might be interested in a return to the game. Still, it’s a long way from that sort of speculation to a return after missing a full year.

La Russa and Edmonds have what can fairly be called a complicated relationship. They didn’t always get along when Edmonds played in St. Louis, but their mutual fondness was always obvious. La Russa chastised Edmonds for what he believed to be dismissive comments about St. Louis after Edmonds joined the Cubs, and the criticism seemed to sting Edmonds at the time.

On stage on Sunday, though, Edmonds referred to La Russa as like a father figure to him, and the warmth in their relationship, rather than any strain, dominated the scene.

Neither La Russa nor general manager John Mozeliak could be reached for comment after the event ended.

-M.

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