Tag:Tony La Russa
Posted on: March 9, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: March 9, 2011 10:48 am

Pepper: Davis finding his way

By Matt Snyder

Chris Davis may finally be ready.

In a straw poll of Rangers management, the Star-Telegram found Davis was easily the most impressive player thus far in camp. He's flashing power, hitting for a high average and playing solid defense. This follows a good season of winter ball, so it could be a harbinger of things to come in Texas.

We know the power he possesses. He hit 17 home runs in 295 at-bats in 2008 and then 21 in 391 in 2009. Of course, the problem is that his OBP deteriorated to a dreadful .284 in 2009 and his contact rate was embarrassing. He struck out 238 times in those two seasons -- which is a strikeout once in less than every three at-bats.

Most everything got worse last season. Davis hit only one home run in 120 at-bats. He struck out 40 times. He hit .192/.279/.571, good for a 54 OPS-plus.

The funny thing is, Davis has always destroyed minor-league pitching (.939 OPS) and is still only 24.

In terms of how the current Rangers roster is constructed, however, Davis may actually be blocked. Assuming Adrian Beltre is healthy and Michael Young doesn't get traded, there really isn't a spot. You've got Mitch Moreland at first base, Beltre at third, Young in the backup DH/1B/3B role and Mike Napoli also a DH who can fill in at first.

Maybe Davis gives the Rangers further incentive to offload Young? That might even mean eating a good portion of his remaining contract, but a powerful Chris Davis makes it easier to justify. That's just speculation, but it's entirely possible.

SOME TOMMY JOHN STATS: In an article about how the Reds are expecting Edinson Volquez to return to form this season, we're given a stat that 96 percent of the pitchers who undergo "Tommy John" surgery return to the same level of competition they were before the procedure. It makes sense. As long as the rehab and throwing programs are done properly, the newly inserted ligament should actually be stronger than the natural one was before the injury. This article notes that prior to injury, the ulnar-collateral ligament has likely been slowly deteriorated over time, so when the surgery happens, it's like a brand new ligament. There's a lot more interesting stuff in there, and it's a highly recommended click-through. (SI.com )

Also in SI.com , Tom Verducci talked to a "leader in the field of pitching biomechanics," who said that Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg has a problematic delivery. Specifically, the contention is that Strasburg lands his front foot too early in his pitching motion, which puts in undue amount of torque on both his elbow and shoulder. When you considering how hard he throws, that's an excessive amount of pressure on those two body parts. There is also a moment in his delivery, according to the article, where Strasburg's elbow raises higher than his hand -- which switches the order of how the kinetics of a pitching motion are supposed to happen. This, again, puts a ton of pressure on his elbow. Hey, don't shoot the messenger, Nationals fans. I'm just passing along the info.

ONLY IN THE SPRING: Spring is a slow news time. You've got injuries and positional battles, sure, but otherwise it's mostly meaningless at-bats and killing time looking ahead to the regular season. Thus, Chipper Jones garnered some fan fare for bringing back and old-school look a few weeks ago when he pulled the bottoms of his pants up to knee-high. Of course, this only worked for Chipper with low-top shoes and he wasn't comfortable. So he returned to high-tops and, with those, had to bring the pants back down to ankle-length. (Atlanta-Journal Constitution )

ONLY IN THE SPRING, PART II: The Rays had a longest drive contest. Yes, with golf clubs. The four finalists were Johnny Damon, Cesar Ramos, Andy Sonnanstine and B.J. Upton. Who ya got? Go check it out, as there is video. (TampaBay.com )

SAY WHAT? Try to figure out this quote: "I don't ignore them because I've got to answer them. But I ignore them." That comes courtesy of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who is frustrated that the MLB Network questioned his team's outfield defense -- even though he apparently ignores them, or doesn't. Whatever. Any defensive metric you see says the outfield defense for the Cardinals will be pretty atrocious. Matt Holliday is fine in left field, though not spectacular. According to Fangraphs.com's ultimate zone rating, only two center fielders were worse than Colby Rasmus last year, who is certainly better suited for a corner spot. In right, they've got Lance Berkman, who was moved to first base in Houston due to becoming too slow for the outfield. He's 35 and hasn't been completely healthy for a full season 2008. To all this, La Russa would likely give the same response he did to MLB Network, "What do people know about our outfield defense?" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch )

TALKIN' BASEBALL: Willie, Mickey and the Duke. Those words were immortalized in Talkin' Baseball , a song written in 1981 by Terry Cashman. With the recent passing of the Duke, Cashman looks back on writing the song. (MLB.com )

STILL COOL CARLOS: While one Carlos on the Cubs sparred with a teammate over an error this spring, Carlos Zambrano has been a saint in Cubs camp. Tuesday, a defensive miscue allowed the leadoff man on base, but Zambrano never batted an eye. Of course, he won't say he's a changed man -- even though he said earlier in camp he was "cured" -- "Nah, I'm the same, bro," he told reporters. (Chicago Sun-Times ) Really, it's not just the spring, though. Zambrano has been a different man since re-entering the rotation last August 9. He went 8-0 with 1.41 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 11 starts and hasn't had an issue with teammates or management. The guy we're seeing this spring isn't just being good because it's spring. It's a carry over. Of course, with Zambrano, things could turn at any moment.

MEETING THE CHAMP: The White Sox met with Muhammad Ali and his Athletes for Hope foundation Tuesday. He was given a No. 40 jersey with the "Champ" on back, instead of Ali. (Chicago Tribune )

TAKE A BOTTLE, DRINK IT DOWN, PASS IT AROUND: One of the best pastimes of baseball -- for fans, that is -- is having a frothy cold one at the ballpark. Big League Stew breaks down the top 10 beers available at major-league ballparks. If you prefer a simple domestic macrobrew, well, there's something for you in every stadium.

BRADLEY HEARING WEDNESDAY: There will be a private hearing with Milton Bradley, his wife and the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office to attempt to resolve their differences without taking any charges to criminal court. Bradley was arrested for alleged domestic violence and threats against his wife last month. (Seattle Times )


More MLB coverage
Posted on: February 25, 2011 7:03 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 7:04 pm

Ryan hurt by Cardinals' barbs

Even before he left St. Louis, Brendan Ryan was labeled by Cardinals teammates and brass as immature and a problem child, but since he was traded to Seattle in exchange for a Class A pitcher Mikael Cieto, it's gotten worse.

Brendan Ryan

"Yeah, that was very upsetting," Ryan told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Rick Hummel. "It was like I was a pretty bad guy. A clubhouse cancer and all kinds of horrible things."

He also said:

"To just kind of sit there and see some of the things that were written or whatever, I think people were looking for reasons why I, in a sense, was dumped,'' Ryan said. "People want some closure. The only way it was justified was me looking bad in some way. Just sitting on the couch reading and hearing those things, it was tough, really tough.

"It really kind of crushed me. But what can you do? You don't have your own TV station or a wireless mike from your living room. But to be portrayed as a bad teammate or a cancerous guy, I could not believe it."

Ryan said he's talked to both Ryan Franklin -- who publicly noted Ryan's tardiness -- and former manager Tony La Russa.

"I don't want to seem like I'm disappointed to be the Mariners because I'm not," Ryan said. "You always want to be where you're wanted. The Mariners wanted me. And the Cardinals clearly didn't."

It's still uncertain where exactly he'll play with Seattle. The Mariners have another great glove, no-hit shortstop in Jack Wilson. Ryan has played some second base in Seattle.

While Ryan admitted he'd had some issues with tardiness -- "I'm not a morning person" -- he refused to point fingers at former teammates, such as Chris Carpenter who showed him up during a game in Cincinnati and also chewed him out in front of cameras. 

It says a little something that Ryan took the high road and responsibility on his way out while others have trashed him -- including an unnamed "former Cardinal" in Hummel's article. Ryan could have trashed others, such as Carpenter for his lack of professionalism, or La Russa or first-year hitting coach Mark McGwire, but he didn't. He didn't even mention that his replacement, Ryan Theriot, was a below-average defensive second baseman and his former club will try to win with him at short. Nope, he did none of that. And he's the immature one.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: February 22, 2011 6:08 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 6:30 pm

Punto undergoes surgery, out three months

The Cardinals' infield just got a bit thin.

Nick Punto, who was brought in to serve as a bit of an insurance policy for David Freese at third base, will be out three months after having to undergo surgery on a sports hernia, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports .

Punto wasn't just there to spell Freese, as he could also help out at second base behind Skip Schumaker -- so the overall infield depth is affected.

Freese is still set to be the Cardinals' everyday third baseman for the upcoming season, but he was riddled with injuries last year. He missed the final two months and only played 70 games total due to ankle injuries. He did hit .296/.361/.404 when actually on the field and many believe his upside is much higher. He just needs to stay on the field. Reports thus far from spring training have Freese as "limited" and "questionable" for opening day.

With Punto out of the mix for a while, the Cardinals will have to lean on some combination of Allen Craig and Tyler Greene to provide depth behind Schumaker, Freese and Ryan Theriot around the non-Pujols infield spots.

Tony La Russa has had good fortune for years in mixing and matching seemingly also-ran players in these infield spots -- Aaron Miles comes to mind -- so it might not end up being a huge problem, but this is definitely something to monitor in St. Louis.

-- Matt Snyder

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: February 16, 2011 4:46 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:30 pm

Videos: Pujols fallout

CBSSports.com was in Jupiter, Florida, on Tuesday as Albert Pujols' extension deadline came and went with no deal. Here are some reactions, starting with a breakdown by our own Scott Miller and Mark Morgan:

Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt talks about the team's perspective:

General manager John Mozeliak says no bridges were burned and the doors of communication remain open:

Manager Tony La Russa weighs in:

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: February 15, 2011 1:40 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2011 2:27 pm

La Russa blasts union over Pujols

Albert Pujols
Say what you want about Tony La Russa, but the man doesn't lack for opinions. And he wasn't shy about one Tuesday, railing on what he perceives as pressure Albert Pujols is getting from the players' union to push for the biggest possible contract regardless of what he'd prefer personally.

"I know what he's going through with the union, and to some extent, his representatives,'' La Russa told reporters.  "His representatives are getting beat up by the union. 'Set the bar. Set the bar.'

"That's bull[expletive]. Purely and truly. You've got to deal with it, but that's not the way it should be.

"It should be, 'Look at all the factors.' Values, loyalty, maybe there's a better opportunity someplace else. Maybe there's a better opportunity than here. All that stuff. But it shouldn't be the most money, the most money, the most money.

"I just know those forces are in place. I don't ask them about it. It's not my place to ask. I don't know much he's going to listen to it or is listening to it. But those are powerful forces."

Does the union apply direct pressure to players to reject any offer but the biggest? It's not really clear, but the concern is common among club executives and some fans. The union's interest is keeping salary levels up for its members. But does Pujols getting $260 million or $290 million really affect the bottom line of the average union member? And isn't what's best for the health of baseball and its individual teams ultimately best for the players?

UPDATE: Union chief Michael Weiner, contacted by ESPN.com, denied that anyone from the union had been involved in the Pujols situation.

"The truth is we've had no conversations with Albert or Danny (Lozano, Pujols' agent) or anybody on Albert's behalf about the numbers in this negotiation. None. It's never been the union's policy to pressure players and certainly it's never been the union's policy to pressure players because they have to set the bar for other players."

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: February 13, 2011 2:59 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2011 1:50 pm

La Russa opens up on Pujols negotiations

Tony La Russa Neither the Cardinals upper management nor their superstar are talking much about Albert Pujols' Wednesday deadline for a new contract -- but manager Tony La Russa went right at the issue on Sunday, the day Cardinals pitchers and catchers reported to Jupiter, Fla.

Here are some of the highlights, courtesy Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch :

• "We need to prove we're good enough. This is a spectacular distraction potentially. We won't allow it to be. But it's going to be a spectacular excuse if we don't play well. I'm just concerned about us getting ready and proving we're good enough."

• "I keep hearing this thing about distractions. You allow yourself to be distracted. We're not going to allow ourselves to get distracted, which means there are going to be a lot of non-answers. Hopefully, the players will do the same. It's not what we're here for."

• (On comparisons to Mark McGwire in his first year as hitting coach last spring): It's not the same, obviously, but it's a good example about something here that could have been a distraction that ended up getting taken care of. It was definitely the way Mark handled it. But you choose what you want to think about. The fact is we're here to get ourselves ready to be as good as we can be. Anything that gets in the way of that... our mission is to not let it happen. In this case it's Albert. He's at a point in his career where he's got a choice to make.

"I know Albert. He's as strong between the ears as anybody I've ever met."

• La Russa said the players' union is trying to influence the situation: "The pressure that a high profile player receives from the union and his representatives to push for the last dollar, neglecting anything else about that decision -- type of organization, loyalty, all that stuff. I don't think that's a real healthy part of our game. The union is out there for their players to keep setting the bar higher and higher."

The last bit is a smart move by one of baseball's smartest men -- it's a lawyer trick, the public wants a black hat and La Russa knows it doesn't help for anyone to see his bosses or his best player as the bad guy in any negotiation. The easiest target, especially in this economic climate, is the agents and players' union who are asking for players to get paid more while the public sees players as overpaid anyway.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: February 10, 2011 3:04 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 4:22 pm

La Russa now longest-tenured pro coach

Tony La Russa With Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan resigning , Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is now the longest-tenured coach with the same team in major professional American sports.

La Russa was named manager of the Cardinals following the 1995 season and is entering his 16th season at the helm of the Cardinals. Sloan had coached the Jazz since 1988.

The Angels' Mike Scioscia is second among current baseball skippers with th same team (1999), followed by the Twins' Ron Gardenhire (2002).

La Russa is under contract through this season with a mutual option for 2012.

The list of the longest-tenured coaches and when they took over (from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch 's Derrick Goold ):

Tony La Russa, Cardinals -- Oct. 23, 1995
Gregg Popovich, Spurs -- Dec. 10, 1996
Lindy Ruff, Sabres -- July 21, 1997
Barry Trotz, Predators -- Aug. 6, 1997
Andy Reid, Eagles -- Jan. 11, 1999
Mike Scioscia, Angels -- Nov. 17, 1999
Bill Belichick, Patriots -- Jan. 27, 2000
Ron Gardenhire, Twins -- Jan. 4, 2002

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: January 16, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2011 1:29 pm

Cards weren't close to dealing Rasmus

Colby Rasmus The Cardinals aren't -- and weren't -- close to dealing outfielder Colby Rasmus this offseason, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes .

Rasmus reportedly asked for a trade last season, but general manager John Mozeliak said it was never seriously considered. So proposed trades such as the suggested Rasmus for Carlos Quentin deal with the White Sox were never more than media speculation.

"I think any trade discussions about Colby were completely manifested by what was going on in the media," Mozeliak said. "Dating back to September when that [story] broke, I'd get calls from teams right then and there. But they were bottom-fishing. They thought we were just going to give him away. That was never the case."

Rasmus requested a trade and had a heated exchange with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa in the dugout during a game and said he felt isolated from his teammates. Even Albert Pujols made a pointed comment about Rasmus during the season.

Still, La Russa -- who confirmed in September that Rasmus had asked for a trade -- claims it's a media issue, not an issue between the two.

"It's a story line that people wear out," La Russa told Goold. "It's inaccurate and it's unfair. … He's still gaining experience and figuring out how insincere [these reports] really are. We have a good relationship. Good to real good. At its worst, it's good. At its best, it's real good."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com