Aaron Miles saw a total of 8 pitches in his first 4 at bats. He saw 8 more pitches in his 5th at bat verses Brad Lidge. I was just cursing Miles and his lack of plate discipline and honestly thought the game was over when he came to the plate. But I remembered the lesson of the rice illustration I borrowed a few posts ago and started to say Aaron Miles could do it. And his RBI single tied the game.
Then I figured I may as well go with it and say Albert would homer and it would be the difference. And it was.
What can I say, people. I’m blessed with extraordinary powers. Great pinch-hitting by Spiezio and Duncan. Nice work by Izzy as well for two innings. He seems be much improved since he’s decided to quit pitching around batters and just going right after them. Izzy a month ago would’ve maybe walked Berkman and just hoped for a dp.
UPDATED: Here’s the Win Probability Graph from Fangraphs.
After Jim Edmonds went down on strikes, and Juan Encarnacion flied out the Astros had a win probability of 99.3% (!) according to the Win Expectancy Finder. Then came Giant Meltdown Against the Cardinals Part 2 for Brad Lidge. Spiezio HR. (Cards WPA 2.6%. Chris Duncan singled. (5.4%) Eckstein walked (12.6%). Aaron Miles then singled to raise the Cardinal WPA to 51.3%. The Win Expectancy Finder doesn’t do extra’s, I could calculate it myself but I’m pressed for time this morning so I’m guessing Apu’s HR gave the Cardinals around 90%ish WP, and Izzy effectively shut the door. What a great win. Here’s the path of Albert’s HR from Hit Tracker. (BTW, Biggio’s HR was no cheapy. Maybe I need to adjust my expectations from Reyes. He probably ain’t Franky Liriano and he’s still considered to be on OJT.)
Right, Tony. Albert is in the line up tonight, far, far too early for my tastes. Let’s rewind a bit and look at some quotes from June 3rd, the day Pujols got hurt.
"He’s going to miss a significant period of time"
"If you told me right now he’d be out two weeks, I’d buy you dinner the rest of the year."
-Tony La Russa
"This is an injury that we are going to be extremely cautious with, because if you send the guy out there too early, then you have a major setback and a major re-injury"
"This is not an injury that he can go out and play with it sore, because that will put him at risk. He can’t play at 60 or 70 percent."
-Dr. Paletta, team doctor
Well, it’s been a tad longer then two weeks and far too early for my tastes. I guess 33 runs scored against your team in 2 games forces you to make some tough decisions, but the risk seems far too great. After all, the hitting has been fine. Unless Albert can pitch, I must ask- why? Speaking of pitching, Mulder is now DL’d with a sore ego (I mean shoulder) and Reyes is starting tonight. Please, Anthony show these chuckers how to pitch. And please God, protect Albert Pujols in spite of the manager’s desperation.
In case you missed it, Larry at Vivaelbirdos had an excellent rant about the current situation, and helps Cardinal fans how to feel.
By now I’m sure most of you have read the Jason Grimsley affidavit. And have read the article at Deadspin.com, which an unnamed source cites Chris Mihlfield, Albert Pujols’ (and Mike Sweeney’s) personal trainer and very close personal friend as the "former employee and personal fitness trainer to several Major League Baseball players" where Grimsley there scored amphetamines, steroids and Human Growth Hormone. What it does not say is that Mihlfield was the source of those drugs. He just allegedly referred Grimsley to a source.
Since then, Mihfield has denied any of those allegations, saying that Grimsley’s lawyer and Grimsley himself has said that it is not Mihfield’s name on the affidavit. He seemed pretty hoppin’ mad, and Albert is pretty mad too. I’d expect a statement forthcoming from El Hombre. Mike Sweeney has already spoken out on a radio show as well, saying he "would bet every last penny that they are not guilty of any wrong doing." I tend to believe Sweeney, as both he and Albert seem to be the classiest of guys, but sadly we’ve heard these denials before. (*Raffy*)
Deadspin doesn’t back down on it’s source, but rather makes what they are saying clearer and seems Leitch seems unmoved. They did not say Albert was using HGH, amphetamines or steroids. They do make the Grimsley to Pujols connection, connecting Sweeney, Mihlfield, Albert and Grimsley together at a hitting clinic. So what is that supposed to imply? That doesn’t amount to really amount to much at all to me.
What do I make of this so far? I’m not sure. I think Deadspin may want to reconsider their sources, though I can’t say I fully blame them as it was a pretty big scoop (and a very disheartening one at that.) Will Leitch, author of Deadspin is a huge fan of the Cardinals, I’m sure he like any Card fan would never want to hear anything connecting Albert to cheating and steroids. But Deadspin is what it is, as in it’s a place that slams and pokes fun at pro athletes at every turn. Not that that’s all bad, nor does it discredit the story. And, I mean Grimsley himself said Mihlfield was not on the affadavit I sorta tend to believe that.
I think what this boils down to is that this whole thing is a commentary on baseball today. We don’t know who’s clean or not, we all have our unspoken (or spoken) suspicions, and I can honestly understand (fair or unfair) why folks would think Albert is juicing. He’s young, he’s big, he’s balding, he has acne at times, and he hits like he’s out of this world. I get it. (For the record, I’m the same age as Albert and I’ve gained 25 pounds in the last 3 years, I get zits at times, and don’t have the same hairline I had years ago, so that doesn’t mean a whole lot.) But it is hard to believe anyone tearing the cover off the ball is clean these days. And another thing, Pujols saying that MLB can test him anyday doesn’t mean squat anymore. We all know there are ways of covering things, and there are things like HGH that aren’t detectable in urine samples.
But, when the day is done, in my heart of hearts I believe Albert is clean. Maybe it’s his character off the field, maybe it’s the way he carries himself, and maybe I really do believe that while he’s too good to be true, he is true. It’s not impossible to believe that Pujols can be au naturale’. And I want to believe it, I want to be able to believe what he says. I want to be able to point to my future children and say, there’s Albert Pujols, the best there ever was. And as thing unravels, I think I will. I may be a bit reticent now in this day we live in, but I hope that I can be less as the days, weeks, months and seasons go by.
Here’s a bit from Will Carroll: (You need a subscription for the link.)
Grade 2 is defined as a strain in which approximately half the thickness of the muscle is torn, creating significant pain, loss of strength and stability, discoloration and significant tenderness with possible palpable defect. If you need a definition of palpable defect, it’s a tear big enough to feel with your finger. Yeah, ouch.
Complicating the analysis is both Pujols’ lineup value and his demonstrated ability to play through pain. Coming back too quickly can be devastating for any muscle strain. The body rebuilds the muscle with scar, weakening it by definition, though muscle can of course be strengthened around the tear.
I’d expect the Cards to be ultraconservative with this injury, keeping Pujols on the shelf beyond the minimum, but less than the oft-quoted six weeks.
That doesn’t sound that bad, let’s just hope the rest of the team steps up and doesn’t force LaRussa’s hand into writing him in the lineup card too soon.
"He’s (Referring to Albert Pujols) going to miss a significant period of time" -Tony LaRussa.
" on the season, albert has propped up the team by contributing nearly 500 points of win probability — while the rest of the starting lineup, in the aggregate, has contributed negative 95 points. which is a fancy way of saying that he is singlehandedly making a bunch of mediocre stiffs look like a champ’ship-caliber offense."
I really have no words. This is terrible. This is just terrible. If we lose Pujols for even a few months, I think by then it could be too late. The pitching staff has been less then stellar, Edmonds is also possibly heading to the DL, Rolen has been hitting well but lacks the power he once had. The "MV3" of a couple years ago is absent. Get ready for a bumpy ride, Cardinal fans.
We can all hope for the best, but should Pujols be lost for the majority of the remainder of the season, Walt needs to make a move, and quickly.
I heard some little editorial jib-jab blurb on ESPN radio today about how Albert should stick to what he knows, which is the strike zone, while reporters (aka the righteous judge and jury) should stick to what they know, which apparently is how to trash Barry Bonds every other breath. I don’t know which ESPN talking head was spouting off this time, I get them confused after a while.
Anyway, I admit I’ve sort of been uncomfortable with Albert’s stance on Barry, but I got to thinking: Maybe his speaking out is the right thing to do? I mean, Albert’s motto is that he plays for God and his family, and he wants to honor them. He’s a devout believer in Christ and is outspoken about his faith. Maybe Albert asked himself the famous million-dollar question: What would Jesus do? Would Jesus write editorial pieces and mean-spirited, holier-then-thou diatribes about how Barry is the embodiment of evil? Would he pick up a rock (or a syringe, or a baseball if you’re Russ Springer) and join the angry mob?
I don’t think he would. I think what Albert is doing is finding another way to express his faith. And by that he’s defending someone who is under constant attack for his (alleged) transgressions. He’s not saying Bonds did do steroids or didn’t, nor is he condoning the use of steroids. He knows what it’s like to be in the limelight, and while he’s receiving a lot of favorable attention for his recent homerun tear, he also is now a suspect. Maybe Pujols is putting himself in Bonds shoes, realizing the suspicions people have about him, and then concluding that it must be a million times worse for Barry. What Albert is doing is reaching out to someone hated, someone thought of as worthless because of his moral failings.
Miklasz has an article about how Pujols should watch out about tying himself to Bonds. Maybe Albert doesn’t care what we think. Maybe he’s free from feeling like he has to prove something to the press or even to the fans. Maybe he gets all the glory he needs from God, and is more afraid about losing that than losing the glory the media can give him or the fans can give him.
What would Jesus do? Well, we read in the Bible he was accused by the self-righteous of being a drunk and a pig for hanging out with some shady company. We read he saved a woman from judgment and death who was caught in the very act of adultery. We read he forgave a thief on the cross. And we know he lashed out at those who thought they were better then others.
Let’s let Albert live out his faith and appreciate him as a ballplayer and a human being. I’m not saying Bonds is innocent or Albert is perfect, nor am I trying to preach. I just think it’s crazy to be so blessed that we get to watch the Great Pujols from April ’til October, and yet he gets blame from the fans and media for doing what he feels is right.
Wouldn’t it be something if somehow Pujols, who says he’s not a homerun hitter, (you are Albert, but you’re much more then that) broke the single season HR record in the year of Barry Bonds and his "game of shadows"? I’m not saying it will happen, but wouldn’t be nice to see the homerun record back in St. Louis, and actually feel legit about it?
I missed the game yesterday, but it sounded like a good one. Juan may have struck out 3 times, but his HR was a crucial one. Jeff Suppan, 7 k’s in 5 innings? He must’ve ate his Wheaties that morning.