Tag:Tony La Russa
Posted on: August 10, 2011 11:38 am
Edited on: August 10, 2011 12:22 pm

La Russa denies playing head games

La Russa

By Evan Brunell

Let's dive right into it. Tony La Russa doesn't think he plays head games with opponents. Right.

"I think the opposite is the reputation I've established," La Russa told CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler and other reporters after a spate of recent incidents involving La Russa have caused the issue to boil over. "I've had a number of times to play that -- tricks and [cheap shots] -- and we don't ever get into it. I trust our players, and I have for a long time."

Tony La Russa

Except that tricks and cheap shots are La Russa's kingdom, with the Brewers the latest target. The Brewers Bar lays out La Russa's complaints over the years.

Last week, La Russa complained about the ribbon board at Miller Park, home of the Brewers, to the umpires. He also called Brewers fans "idiots" after a Milwaukee pitcher dared plunk Albert Pujols. He said that the ribbon board shines brighter when the Brewers are at bat. The manager also got upset earlier this season when Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman called starting pitcher Chris Carpenter "a whiner and an excuse maker." There are plenty of other incidents in past years, which you can read about here, such as complaining about slick baseballs, or the bullpen mound not being uniform to the mound on the playing field.

But nope, La Russa says that head games and complaining aren't his forte.

"I trust our players. Somebody has an issue, whether it's [saying that] the balls are slick in Cincinnati or whatever, and it's guys like John Smoltz and Chris Carpenter, I don't say, 'You've got to be kidding me. Who are you to complain?' When you've established what they've established ... I trust our players. If you trust your players, you're responsible for following through with it. That's what I do. But the people who know me, I shy away from that stuff, because the game is supposed to be played between the white lines, so you try to avoid it at all costs."

"I think it's just the nature of, if you look around, the nature of the game," he added. "If both clubs are competing, it doesn't have to be, but once in a while, you have some sparks. And you can have two clubs that are having a tough year. You can have a club that's having a good year and [one having] a tough year. I think the whole key is just a competition. If both sides care, they always believe their side of it, you know?"

Not much else to add here. Frankly, La Russa over the last few years has evolved into a curmudgeon who stirs up trouble, thinks a little too much of his baseball genius (to be fair, La Russa has been a fantastic manager and helped evolve the game with his bullpen usage) and runs talented young players (Colby Rasmus) out of town.

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 2:00 pm

Did La Russa's inaction send the wrong message?

Tony La RussaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Now don't get me wrong, Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball, the biggest cog in the Cardinals' machine and the best thing to happen to Tony La Russa since Jose Canseco discovered syringes -- but did La Russa's actions -- and non-actions -- this week send the wrong signal to Cardinal players not named Albert?

You may remember there was a little brouhaha earlier this week after Pujols was hit in the hand (admittedly unintentionally by everyone from Pujols to La Russa) by Brewers reliever Takashi Saito. La Russa went nuts, called Brewers fans "idiots," and had his pitcher, Jason Motte throw at the Brewres' Ryan Braun. Not only did Motte (who laughably denied intent afterward) throw inside and miss Braun with his first pitch, he then drilled him in the back with his second pitch.

"I don't want to even hear about Braun getting a little pop in the back when we almost lose [Pujols] in several ways," La Russa said after the game with the Brewers.

So fast forward to Thursday night: bases loaded, one out and Marlins right-hander Clay Hensley on the mound with David Freese at the plate. Hensley, who had struggled with control all night (and had already hit Matt Holliday up and in on the hand) hits Freese not in the hand, but in the head.

It was frightening and sickening. You never want to see a player hit in the head. It's an awful sight nobody wants to see -- least of all the man responsible, Hensley. But wasn't the principle the same? You don't throw at one of Tony's guys inside or high? Does the judge and jury in sunglasses need to make his verdict and dole out retribution? That's the message that was loud and clear on Tuesday.

Or was it?

The first pitch to the next Marlins batter after Freese went down? An 81 mph changeup low and slightly in from Kyle Lohse to Logan Morrison. No retaliation, no "stinger," no nothing. The second pitch? A sinker called for a strike. Morrison then singled on Lohse's fourth pitch, another changeup.

Is the lesson learned hear that a shot to the head is less dangerous to one at the hand? Or is it that Pujols is more valuable not just on the field but as a person than a 28-year-old with 144 big-league games under his belt? Hit Albert and your team will pay. Hit one of the other guys? It's OK, just don't hit Albert. If I'm one of the other guys, I first worry about my fallen teammate and then wonder if I'm important enough for my manager to care about.

But hey, La Russa sure sent a message against the Brewers -- Saito won't ever hit another guy because Motte twice threw at Braun. So since La Russa didn't go all outlaw justice on the Marlins, Hensley doesn't have any idea that it's bad to hit a player in the head, right? He needs La Russa's guidance to understand hitting someone in the head with a baseball is a bad idea.

Maybe not.

"It's unacceptable," Hensley told reporters after the game (via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). "I could have seriously hurt somebody. You never want to go out there and hit people, much less hit them in the head."

Maybe, just maybe, having your pitcher hit another player doesn't teach a lesson -- they can figure it out on their own without help from the other team's manager. Could it be that teaching a lesson via a "stinger" only escalates the problem? Nope, that's not La Russa's code -- and he's apparently the keeper of the code, so only he can decide that. 

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 9:47 am

Pepper: Some Cubbie love from Lee

By Matt Snyder

At this time last week, we were busy pouring through rumor after rumor as the non-waiver trade deadline approached. There were a few Cubs' veterans we knew weren't going anywhere, despite playing for one of the worst teams in baseball. Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood in particular weren't going to waive their respective no-trade clauses. It might seem baffling to some people, but former teammate Derrek Lee says it's too great a place to play to want to leave.

"It's not that easy," Lee said (Chicago Tribune). "It's easy to look from the outside and say, 'Well, go play on a contender. This team is winning, so why don't you want to go there?' But you build roots in a place.

"Those guys have families. It's not that easy just to pack up and go. And how many cities are there as good as Chicago? You're going to have great crowds there every day, an atmosphere, and also those guys probably want the challenge of turning it around and winning there."

Baby steps: We've opined in this space several times about the sheer idiocy that are the MLB blackout rules and it appears there might be some ever-so-slight progress. Evidently MLB Extra Innings subscribers in northeast Ohio were all of a sudden blacked out from watching Pirates and Indians games due to a merger of several local cable providers. For once, Major League Baseball rectified an issue and lifted the blackout. So I guess that's a step in the right direction, but the rules are still absurd. (Biz of Baseball)

Remember me? Wednesday, we posted a video of an apparent Ichiro Suzuki fanatic in the Mariners crowd, who interfered with play by accident. Well, he was back at the ballpark the following day, once again dressed in full Ichiro garb. (Super Ichiro Crazy)

Bat-flavored beer: In Seattle, a brewing company has made a beer that soaked maple bats in it for three weeks. Interesting idea. Personally, I'm not sure I'd want to try it -- it just sounds weird, no? -- but who knows, maybe it's great. (ESPN.com)

Trade bait: Fangraphs.com has an excellent flow chart showing all the trades of Edwin Jackson, who has been dealt six times (and he's only 27 years old). Roughly 15 players have been traded for Jackson, though it's tough to very accurately say the proper number, as there have been a pair of three-way trades involving him.

Bad signings: Once you get past the Yankees, the Red Sox are generally maligned by casual fans for being a huge spender in free agency and just throwing money at players. The truth, however, is that the Red Sox are actually pretty good at developing their own. Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and more came directly from the system. Meanwhile, many free agent signings, like John Lackey and Carl Crawford, have thus far been a disaster (ESPN.com). Maybe Theo Epstein should stop spending so much on external players?

Back off, Tony: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa took exception with some comments from Brewers fans earlier this week, and I got his back. On this, however, I will not be doing so. He heard a Brewers announcer say the Cardinals throwing at Ryan Braun was "bush league" and called said announcer to discuss. I mean, really? The two did "clear the air," so I guess all's well that ends well. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Chipper return: Chipper Jones hasn't been in the starting lineup for over a week. He returned from the disabled list only to come down with a new injury and has been relegated to pinch-hit duty since. He's planning on returning to the lineup Friday, not surprisingly, against the Mets. He's hit more homers against the Mets than any other team in his career. (AJC.com)

Moose rests: Royals rookie Mike Moustakas has struggled, for the most part, since his promotion to the bigs. Manager Ned Yost gave Moustakas Wednesday night off to work on his swing mechanics. (Kansas City Star)

Alonso at third: Reds rookie Yonder Alonso projects as a very good major league hitter, according to most scouts, but he's a first baseman by trade. Not sure if you've heard, but the Reds have a decent 1B. Alonso has been played in left field, but most scouts see him as a bit of a butcher out there. Maybe third base could be a fit, with Scott Rolen being out for the next four to six weeks? He's been working out at third recently. (MLB.com)

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Posted on: August 3, 2011 1:58 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 2:40 pm

La Russa explains 'idiot' comment

By Matt Snyder

After the intense, extra-innings game against the Brewers Tuesday night, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa made a comment that sounded like he was calling all fans -- or at least fans in general -- "idiots." Wednesday, he clarified his use of the term and explained why he used it.

"It's gone way too far," La Russa said (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). "When they start cursing your family ... The funniest one was a guy said, 'I hope you get shingles again.' That's just stupid."

So La Russa was singling out the fans who were getting personal with him.

He is 100 percent correct about family and health issues being too much. The sad thing is, this isn't even surprising. Whether it's Twitter, message boards, comments under articles or from the stands at stadiums everywhere, people seem to think personal shots at athletes, media, etc. are cool, funny and/or acceptable. Whether it's the dehumanization element -- thinking of athletes/celebrities as immune from feelings because they are rich/famous -- or if these people are genuinely so vile on the inside, I'm not sure. Whatever the reason, it's pretty pathetic. Just be a fan that yells at La Russa to sit down. Or attack his personality if you don't like it. He can control that. Physical health issues and families should be off-limits. Sadly, for far too many, nothing is off-limits.

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Posted on: August 3, 2011 9:48 am

Pepper: Cardinals-Brewers rivalry heats up

By Matt Snyder

Last year it was the Cardinals against the Reds in the NL Central. This time around, it's the Brewers who seem to have drawn the ire of the Cardinals. Tuesday night, the Cardinals beat the Brewers to move within 2 1/2 games in the NL Central and break the Brewers' long winning streak, but everyone was talking about a pair of hit-by-pitches after the game.

In the top of the seventh inning, Brewers reliever Takashi Saito hit Albert Pujols in the hand/wrist area. It loaded the bases and was pretty clearly not intentional. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa even said as much post-game, though he also noted he still had an issue with it (via Associated Press).

"Real scary. They almost got him yesterday. There's nothing intentional about it," La Russa said. "That's what all these idiots up there -- not idiots, fans are yelling and yell. Do you know how many bones you have in the hands and the face? That's where those pitches are."

Next half-inning, La Russa left in Jason Motte to face Ryan Braun. Motte missed Braun on his first pitch, but not on his second try. He was removed after the hit-by-pitch and is the Cardinals hardest throwing reliever. Of course, La Russa says they weren't trying to hit Braun.

"And Braun, we were trying to pitch him in, too, it's just a little stinger," La Russa said (AP). "I don't want to even hear about Braun getting a little pop in the back when we almost lose [Pujols] in several ways."

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina -- who was ejected and may have spat on the umpire -- backed up La Russa's story. Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy had a different spin.

"That's clearly intentional. I mean that's ridiculous," Lucroy said (AP). "There's no way that we were trying to hit Pujols on purpose. You kidding me in that situation? If we wanted to put him on base, we would have walked him. That's ridiculous. We were trying to pitch inside and get a ground ball to third base."

For whatever it's worth, Pujols had no issues with his getting hit, saying "it's part of the game." (AP)

It's hard to not take sides here, because I don't think anyone other than Cardinals fans -- and even some of those would be excluded -- believes La Russa. It appears pretty obvious Motte was left out there to hit Braun and was going to have four chances to do it, not just the two it took. From here, each individual can make the call as to whether or not it was warranted.

Ryno moves on: After being named the Triple-A manager of the year, Ryne Sandberg was reportedly not even in the Cubs "top three or four" choices to manage the 2011 season in the bigs, but he doesn't hold a grudge. Sandberg told the Chicago Sun Times that he's moved on and looks forward, not backward. He says he still plans on making it to the majors one way or another. He's currently managing the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate.

LoMo visits Fan Cave with a 'friend:' Last week, Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison had a highly publicized run-in with a praying mantis in the Marlins dugout, and he later admitted via Twitter that he's afraid of bugs. Tuesday, he showed he was a good sport by visiting the MLB Fan Cave with someone dressed as a praying mantis. (MLB.com)

Hard-luck losers: Beyond the Box Score took a look at the pitchers with the most losses in MLB history that came while they still threw at least seven innings while allowing three earned runs or less. It might be easier to simply disregard the archaic wins and losses stat, but since it's still mainstream, I'm on board with things like this. You'll find Nolan Ryan, Bert Blyleven and Greg Maddux on the list, among other all-time greats.

Legend of Sam Fuld: Sam Fuld has been a bit of a cult hero in Tampa Bay since being traded from the Cubs this past offseason, so it was only a matter of time before a promotional poster was made. I have to say, it's pretty hilarious. A spin-off of Legends of the Fall, the Legends of the Fuld poster features Fuld, Chuck Norris and the Dos Equis guy. (TampaBay.com)

Use the Force: The Marlins won on two ninth-inning runs Tuesday night -- which came courtesy of a Justin Turner throwing error. Marlins catcher John Buck reportedly distracted the Mets' second baseman, and Buck credits his first-base coach for employing a "Jedi mind trick." Luke Skywalker would be proud. (Fish Tank)

Cody's the answer again: The 2010 Giants postseason hero was Cody Ross, a very late addition last August via the second trade deadline (using waivers). This season, the Giants were reportedly seeking a center fielder who could lead off, but Ross might again be the answer. He filled both roles Monday and Tuesday. (SFGate.com)

MVPs together again: Joey Votto and Josh Hamilton won the MVPs from their respective leagues in 2010, and they're commemorated together on a bobblehead, as Louisville Bats -- where the two were once teammates (OMGReds).

Sad road of Irabu: Robert Whiting of Slate chronicles the career of recently-deceased Hideki Irabu in an excellently written story.

Frankrupt: The dissatisfaction with Dodgers owner -- at least for now -- Frank McCourt has spawned many different money-making ventures by disgruntled fans, including T-shirts that say "Frankrupt" and a website that begs Mark Cuban to "save the Dodgers." (LA Times)

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Posted on: August 2, 2011 7:33 pm

La Russa complains about Miller Park scoreboard

Tony La RussaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

You know it's a big series for the Cardinals if Tony La Russa is complaining. 

This time? The ribbon scoreboard at Miller Park. The Cardinals manager complained that the lights on the scoreboard near home plate were darker when the Brewers were batting than when the Cardinals were batting. La Russa filed a complaint with umpire Gary Darling on Monday night and the Brewers heard from the MLB on Monday.

In the end -- shocker -- it was much ado about nothing.

"We didn't change anything," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "There was no reason to change anything. What was brought up, nothing had to be changed."

The Brewers are 40-14 at home and 21-35 on the road, so apparently it's all about the scoreboard.

There have been enough whispers about impropriety at Miller Park that Haudricourt said he asked manager Ron Roenicke "point-blank if the Brewers were cheating at home."

"If we are, I know nothing about it," Roenicke responded. "I would think I would be [in the loop.]"

The Brewers beat Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals 6-2 on Monday, giving Milwaukee a 3 1/2-game lead in the National League Central. The Cardinals had eight hits on Monday, but were just 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position. 

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 9:53 am

Pepper: Pirates' pursuit of Beltran a positive

PNC Park

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Beltran refused a deal that would send him to the Pirates, but just the fact that I can write that is pretty darn cool. Yep, the Pittsburgh Pirates were seeking a rental player at the deadline from the New York Mets.

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported the Pirates had made an "aggressive push" to get Beltran and were willing to pick up the $6.5 million left on his contract for this season.

Beltran's now with the defending champs and that's probably the best fit for him, which is the beauty of having a no-trade clause. Instead of finishing the season in Pittsburgh, he'll be in San Francisco, good for Beltran.

But it's also a sign of where the Pirates are and how they're planning on trying to win now. Last year we heard about the Pirates hoarding their luxury tax disbursement, this year we're hearing about them trying to improve.

Is it a new world order? Maybe not, but it is an indication that the Pirates' ownership is behind its team and serious about a winner. It also may end up helping the Pirates, who don't give up young talent and can contend for more years with a player that could develop into something special. Even if Beltran had accepted a trade to Pittsburgh, he wouldn't have stayed.

The Pirates have shown their commitment and that's something that was needed after last year's fiasco.

What to expect in Toronto: The folks at the Hardball Times take a look at what to expect from Colby Rasmus in Toronto. The move from Busch Stadium to the Rogers Center should help his power numbers a little bit, but not as much as it would if he were a right-hander. Meanwhile Rasmus' new manager said he'll play every day, replacing Rajai Davis. [The Globe and Mail]

La Liar?: Rasmus' father, Tony, says Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is incorrect in his assertion that his son was listening to him instead of his coaches. Rasmus said La Russa is "made that stuff up" and bullied general manager John Mozeliak into trading Rasmus for pitching. "Tony would like to have 25 pitchers," Tony Rasmus told the Toronto Sun, "like he thinks he has to put his stamp on every ball game. They had nothing else to trade. I think everyone is better off now." In a TV interview, Colby Rasmus was asked about his relationship with La Russa after the trade and the younger Rasmus said, "I hope he's happy." Tony Rasmus said La Rusa blames Rasmus for leading to Walt Jocketty leaving the Cardinals.

Winner, loser: Jeff Passan of Yahoo! says the two big deals on Wednesday showed the way to make deadline deals and the way not to make deadline deals. Let's just say the defending champs are doing something right, while another team panicked.

Oswalt strong in rehab start: Phillies right-hander Roy Oswalt allowed just one hit in four innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday. Oswalt said after the start that he would probably need at least one, if not two more rehab starts before he's ready to re-join the Phillies rotation. [Delaware County Times]

Washington wants 'fire': Rangers closer Neftali Feliz can bring the heat, but his manager Ron Washington wants to see more "fire" from him on the mound. Washington said he doesn't see the urgency from his closer. Feliz has blown five saves this season after blowing just three last year. His strikeout rate is also down from a year ago. [MLB.com]

Wily Mo's back: The Mariners -- a team desperate for offense -- has signed outfielder/DH Wily Mo Pena to a minor-league contract on Wednesday. Pena hit five homers in 17 games for the Diamondbacks. Pena is expected to start at Triple-A Tacoma. [MLB.com]

Left is right: It's never a good thing for a pitcher to hear he'll have to undergo surgery to repair a loose capsule and torn labrum in his shoulder, but for Padres' right-hander Dustin Mosley, at least the surgery he'll undergo this offseason will be in his left shoulder. Mosley said he's hurt the shoulder twice this season and one more time earlier in his career, all while batting. Moseley may have to swing one-handed, bat left-handed or just bunt a whole lot more to keep his shoulder from popping out of joint when he swings. [North County Times]

Replay resistance: Dodgers manager Don Mattingly saw the play in Atlanta Tuesday night, but he's still not in favor of expanding replay. Mattingly's two issues -- the time and the human element. My response would be the time could be helped with technology and a dedicated umpire off the field for replay and the human factor isn't as important as the correct call factor. [MLB.com]

Papi's milestone: David Ortiz's grand slam on Wednesday gave him 1,000 career RBI with the Red Sox, just the sixth player to achieve that feat in Boston. He joins Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans and Bobby Doerr -- not bad company. [Boston Herald]

Stability behind the plate helps Rangers: Having the same catchers all season -- Yorvit Torrealba and Mike Napoli -- has helped Rangers pitchers. Torrealba has started 71 games behind the plate this season. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

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Posted on: July 27, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: July 27, 2011 3:28 pm

3-team deal sends Rasmus to Toronto

Colby Rasmus

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Edwin JacksonThe deal that sends Colby Rasmus from Tony La Russa's doghouse to Toronto is done, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

It's a three-way deal that was set in motion when the Blue Jays sent starter Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen from the White Sox to Toronto for reliever Jason Frasor and minor-league reliever Zach Stewart. And then the Cardinals got involved. When the dust cleared, here's what went down:

Blue Jays get: OF Colby Rasmus, 3B/OF Mark Teahen, LHP Brian Tallet, RHP P.J. Walters
Cardinals get: RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Octavio Dotel, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, OF Corey Patterson, three players to be named, cash
White Sox get: RHP Jason Frasor, RHP Zach Stewart, LHP Trever Miller

A free agent after the season is Jackson, who is 7-7 with a 3.92 ERA in 19 starts for the White Sox. He was redundant in the White Sox rotation that had six starters for five spots.

The Cardinals have been shopping Rasmus. who has clashed with his manager and the rest of the coaching staff. Rasmus fits Alex Anthopoulos' M.O. -- young, talented and disgruntled. Last year, Anthopoulos acquired Braves problem child Yunel Escobar. St. Louis needed help in the rotation and bullpen and this move would address both needs. St. Louis also has Jon Jay to replace Rasmus. Jackson can slide into the rotation for the Cardinals, moving Kyle McClellan back to the bullpen, which is strengthened by the additions of the right-handed Dotel and lefty Rzepczynski.

Jason FrasorThe move makes sense for the White Sox, who need help in the bullpen. The right-handed Frasor has a 2.98 ERA in 42 1/3 innings this season, striking out 37 and walking 15. Frasor is a free agent after the season. 

Stewart was ranked No. 5 on the Blue Jays' Top 10 prospect list by Baseball America  before the season. The right-hander made his big-league debut earlier this year and started three games for the Blue Jays, going 0-1 with a 4.86 ERA. He's 5-5 with a 4.20 ERA at Double-A this season. He was the key piece in the Scott Rolen deal with the Reds two years ago.

FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal added in a tweet that the White Sox have also placed Jon Danks and Gavin Floyd on the market.

The White Sox also called up Alexander De Aza, who will start today in center field.

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