Tag:Tony La Russa
Posted on: October 6, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 4:55 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Chicago White Sox

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series... 

Team name: Chicago White Sox
Record: 79-83, 3rd place AL Central, 16 GB
Manager: Ozzie Guillen/Don Cooper
Best hitter: Paul Konerko -- .300/.388/.517 with 31 HR, 105 RBI
Best pitcher:Mark Buehrle -- 13-0, 3.59 ERA, 205 1/3 IP, 109 SO, 45 BB

2011 SEASON RECAP

That feeling Red Sox and Braves fans had in the last days of the season? That's what it felt like all season long on the Southside of Chicago. The White Sox spent big money to bring Adam Dunn to town and dreams of him crushing balls out of U.S. Cellular Field. Instead, he was the biggest flop since Cowboys vs. Aliens. Dunn had an emergency appendectomy early in the season, and that may have been his highlight for 2011, finishing the season hitting .159/.292/.277 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI. The disappointment in Dunn permeated the entire season, even though the White Sox were just three games back in the American League Central leading up to the trade deadline, they never looked like a serious contender. They didn't disappoint, going 11-17 over the last month of the season as manager Ozzie Guillen dropped hints about wanting out before getting his way and being sent to the Marlins for a couple of minor-leaguers.

2012 AUDIT

The White Sox already have nearly $90 million committed for 2012, so there's little chance of a quick fix. Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Dunn and Konerko alone will account for $55.5 million, more than the entire 2011 opening day payroll for the Diamondbacks, Indians, Padres, Pirates, Rays and Royals. The will be looking to get some of its younger players, like catcher Tyler Flowers and outfielders Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza.

FREE AGENTS

LHP Mark Buehrle
OF Juan Pierre
RHP Jason Frasor ($3.75 team option)
UTIL Omar Vizquel
C Ramon Castro

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Forget the big-name managerial candidates. There's no need to throw money at Tony La Russa or Terry Francona. Hire Rays bench coach Dave Martinez. He's learned at the hand of baseball's best manager, Joe Maddon, and he's ready for his own challenge. Martinez also knows the landscape, as part of his long big-league career, he played for both the White Sox and Cubs. Sandy Alomar Jr., another former White Sox, would be a good choice, as well. UPDATE: Former third baseman Robin Ventura has been named manager, just hours after this was originally posted.
  • Avoid the free agent market. Yes, this could be difficult for Kenny Williams, but this is not the time for the White Sox to spend big bucks on free agents.
  • Not that anyone expects anything different, the White Sox should give Buehrle a nice watch and wave him goodbye. Buehrle would like to return, but his price tag is likely too high. His time, like Guillen's, is over.
  • Juan Pierre? Gone.
  • Dangle John Danks and Gavin Floyd. While there are some attractive names on the free agent market, the pitching market isn't as as good as the available position players. Teams will be looking for pitching, and either Floyd (making $7 million in 2012 with a club options or 2013) or Danks (in his final year of arbitration). If neither bring back the kind of return the team wants, you can pull them back. Look at Toronto's trade of Shaun Marcum for Brett Lawrie as an example. The White Sox have by far the worst minor-league system in baseball, and it needs replacements.
  • Tell Chris Sale to get ready to start. Kenny Williams already told him this, but let it be known it's his spot to lose.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 5, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: October 5, 2011 4:03 pm
 

Sox won't consider Valentine, Hale

By Evan Brunell

The Terry Francona managerial search is going to be dragging on for a good while, but there's a couple of nuggets that filter out each day.

Wednesday, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com reports that current Boston bench coach Demarlo Hale will not be considered for the Red Sox's vacant manager position. Hale was a finalist back in 2003 when Francona won the job, and Hale also came close to netting the Toronto job, losing out to fellow Sox coach John Farrell. He's a strong managerial candidate and figures to helm a bench somewhere one day, but it won't be in Boston, as McAdam writes that the Red Sox believe a fresh start is needed.

That fresh start won't include Bobby Valentine, Joe Torre or Tony La Russa, though. The Red Sox are seeking a "younger candidate, one more agreeable to working with others than a more established, veteran manager," McAdam writes.

Sources say that among the candidates discussed, some are still involved in the postseason. That would include Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, who seems to be a popular name in the search for a new manager. Also being considered is Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, whose team was knocked out of the playoffs on Tuesday. Another candidate is Cleveland bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. as well as Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, although Pena is not as viable a candidate as the aforementioned three names.

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

Posted on: October 4, 2011 10:02 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 10:50 pm
 

Cardinals need Holliday's bat back in lineup

Allen CraigBy C. Trent Rosecrans

If there was a good sign for the Cardinals in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Phillies in Game 3 of the National League division series, it came in the eighth inning when Matt Holliday sent a Brad Lidge slider into left field for a single.

It was just Holliday's second at-bat of the postseason, striking out as a pinch hitter in Game 1. Holliday has been dealing with a strained tendon in his right hand and unable to play in the field. However, before Tuesday's game, manager Tony La Russa said Holliday had improved and also said his outfielder had gotten a cortisone shot, something he had been avoiding up until this point.

The Cardinals could certainly use Holliday's bat in the lineup, as Lance Berkman is just 2 for 12 so far this postseason batting in Holliday's fourth spot. With Albert Pujols doubling three times ahead of Berkman, he had plenty of opportunities to drive in a run, but failed each time, leaving a total of five men on base. The Cardinals left 14 on base as a team. Not including Pujols, who had four hits, the top third of the Cardinals lineup went 3 for 27 against the Phillies on Tuesday.

Philadelphia-St. Louis NLDS

For the first time in the series, Berkman moved back to right field with Allen Craig starting in left. Craig started the first two games in right with Berkman in left. With Holliday out of the lineup, Craig has hit second and gone just 1 for 10 so far.

The question may be whether Holliday can play the field for an entire game. In the last game he started, on Sept. 27 in Houston, Holliday left the game in the third inning not because of his inability to swing the bat, but his inability to grip the ball on throws.

There's also the question of whether he can handle an inside fastball. In Tuesday's game, he only saw two sliders from Lidge, not anything hard. The Cardinals are a better team with Holliday in the game, but we'll see if Tuesday was the start of a great comeback story or just a cameo.


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Posted on: October 4, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 6:41 pm
 

La Russa fined for criticizing strike zone

By Matt Snyder

During the broadcast of Sunday night's NLDS Game 2 between the Phillies and the Cardinals, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa noted that the two teams were working with different strike zones, insinuating that Chris Carpenter was being squeezed while Cliff Lee was given a favorable zone. At the time, the Cardinals trailed 4-0, though they would eventually win the game, 5-4.

Philadelphia-St. Louis NLDS
La Russa also said he would likely get "in trouble" for making the statement. He was correct. He has been fined by an undisclosed amount by the commisssioner's office for the derogatory remarks about home plate umpire Jerry Meals. The amount isn't huge, though, as it's reportedly only "four figures" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

La Russa's no stranger to confronting umpires about strike zones. He's notorious for working on the home-plate ump and standing up for his pitchers. Back in the 2005 playoffs, he even complained about the strike zone Astros starter Roger Clemens was going to get before the game even started.

If the report on the fine is true, it's kind of a head-scratcher. There's no way a small fine like that would deter La Russa from making future comments, so what's the point?

Oh, and Tuesday marks La Russa's 66th birthday. Happy birthday, Tony, from Bud Selig. Now don't you dare complain about bad strike zones Tuesday night, lest you be slapped on the wrist again.

UPDATE: When asked if he needed to "get anything off his chest" during Tuesday evening's broadcast, La Russa said "my jaws are wired shut."

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

Posted on: October 4, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 2:45 pm
 

NLDS Game 3: Cards, Phils battle for series lead

Hamels, Garcia

By Evan Brunell

Phillies at Cardinals, 5:07 p.m. ET, Busch Stadium, TBS
Series: Tied 1-1
 
Phillies Cardinals
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Jimmy Rollins SS 1 Rafael Furcal SS
2 Chase Utley 2B 2 Allen Craig  LF
3 Hunter Pence RF 3 Albert Pujols  1B
4 Ryan Howard 1B 4 Lance Berkman  RF
5 Shane Victorino CF 5 David Freese  3B
6 John Mayberry, Jr. LF 6 Yadier Molina  C
7 Placido Polanco 3B 7 Ryan Theriot  2B
8 Carlos Ruiz C 8 Jon Jay  CF
9 Cole Hamels LHP 9 Jaime Garcia LHP

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Hamels vs. Cardinals: Hamels has plenty of history against the Cardinals, but the 2011 version isn't what he wants. Greinke gave up four runs to the Cards in seven innings in his lone start against St. Louis this year. The game came on Sept. 18, so Cardinals hitters will be familiar with Hamels when he toes the mound. Craig and Pujols each went deep on Hamels, but of batters with at least 10 plate appearances against Hamels in his career, only Theriot hits Hamels well at .333/.364/.571. No surprise he is in the lineup. Over Hamels' career, he has a 3.27 ERA in nine starts against the Redbirds.

Garcia vs. Phillies: Garcia has handcuffed the Phillies in the early going of his career, tossing up a pristine 1.90 ERA in four starts and two relief appearances. He's punched out 21 and walked 10 in 30 innings, including Ryan Howard six times. John Mayberry, Jr. has only faced Garcia six times but with three hits (one a double), he's the Phillie with the best marks against the lefty. Hunter Pence is the most successful Phillie with a decent amount of at-bats (15), having seen Garcia 15 times thanks to spending his career with Houston prior to being dealt to Philly.

Full Playoff Coverage

NOTES

  • The hottest Cardinals hitter in the last two games has been Ryan Theriot, who played in Game 2 and went 2-for-4 with two doubles. His counterpart in Game 1, Skip Schumaker, went 3-for-5. Great production out of second base.
  • The best Phillie hitter has been either Jimmy Rollins, who is 5 for 8 with two doubles and five runs scored, or Chase Utley. Utley's gone 3 for 6 with four runs scored and two doubles. Raul Ibanez and Ryan Howard have also enjoyed a nice series.
  • Including the playoffs, St. Louis has gone 7-4 against Philadelphia.
  • How many relievers will Tony La Russa go through in Game 3? Game 2 saw six -- count 'em, six -- bullpen arms used, leaving just Jake Westbrook in the bullpen by the time Game 2 ended. A day off should ensure the entire bullpen is available.
  • There is zero chance of rain tonight in St. Louis and game-time temperature figures to be in the mid-70s.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:06 am
 

Holliday won't be in Cardinals' Game 3 lineup

Matt Holliday

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Matt Holliday won't start Game 3 of the NL divisional series on Tuesday for the Cardinals, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Holliday has been limited to a single pinch-hit appearance, but the strained tendon in his right hand will keep him out of Tuesday's lineup. Holliday visited a hand specialist on Monday and didn't swing the bat, Strauss writes. Holliday underwent an MRI on Monday.

2011 playoffs

"It's more fun to be half full than half empty, but in this case it's tougher to be optimistic because he did feel significant pain in his one at-bat," La Russa told the newspaper. "We're kind of crossing our fingers, and I hope it's good news. But I don't know."

The team is not ready to disable Holiday, because doing so during the series would make him ineligible for the next round of the playoffs.

Holliday was used at as a pinch hitter in Game 1, striking out to end the game. He stood in the on-deck circle in Game 2, but La Russa admitted afterward he was just a decoy and was not going to hit.

The outfielder has been burdened by the injury since the last week of the season and was removed from a game in Houston on Aug. 26 because of pain in his hand when he tried to throw the ball.

Holliday hit .296/.388/.525 with 22 home runs and 75 RBI in an injury-filled 2011. Holliday needed an emergency appendectomy in the first week of the season, but missed just seven games, avoiding the disabled list. He struggled with a quad injury in May and June before finally going on the disabled list on June 1. And then in August, he had to leave a game after a moth flew into his ear. HIs latest injury came late in the season while swinging, but he had to leave last Monday's game with the Astros because he couldn't throw the ball without pain and hasn't started a game since.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 3, 2011 10:16 am
 

Cardinals' Holliday could miss entire NLDS

Matt Holliday

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday will have his hand examined in St. Louis on Monday and may not be able to play in the National League division series against the Phillies, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

2011 playoffs

Holliday missed the first two games of the NLDS with a strained tendon in his right palm. After taking batting practice before Saturday's game, Holliday didn't take batting practice on Sunday. Holliday has declined taking a cortisone shot, fearing it would hurt his chances to play, but has used a cortisone cream and received acupuncture.

"I left that (left field) spot open until it was confirmed as yes or now. And quickly the answer was no," La Russa told Strauss. "So I don't know about Tuesday. I know right now I'm more concerned than I was before (Saturday's) game because he took an at-bat and he did had soreness when he swung."

The Cardinals placed Holliday on the 25-man roster for the NLDS hoping he'd be able to play, but if he's replaced now, he would not be eligible for the next round of the playoffs.

"Obviously, when we put our roster together (Saturday) morning, we were optimistic he would be further along," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told the newspaper. "But I"m not prepared to say we may have to make a roster move at this point."

The Cardinals have used Lance Berkman in left field in Holliday's position, while using Allen Craig in right.

Holliday hit .296/.388/.525 with 22 home runs and 75 RBI in an injury-filled 2011. Holliday needed an emergency appendectomy in the first week of the season, but missed just seven games, avoiding the disabled list. He struggled with a quad injury in May and June before finally going on the disabled list on June 1. And then in August, he had to leave a game after a moth flew into his ear. HIs latest injury came late in the season while swinging, but he had to leave last Monday's game with the Astros because he couldn't throw the ball without pain and hasn't started a game since.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 3, 2011 12:16 am
Edited on: October 3, 2011 12:26 am
 

La Russa complains about strike zone

Lee

By Evan Brunell

The Cardinals came away with a 5-4 victory in Game 2 of the NLDS to even the series at one apiece, but the game wasn't without a typical Tony La Russa complaint.

La Russa told TBS on national TV that there were two separate strike zones and that was the reason for Chris Carpenter's failed start. Carpenter was starting on three days rest, the first time he's ever done that. He was bombed for four runs over three innings and it was only due to a masterful, shutdown performance by the bullpen that the Cardinals eked out a victory.

But was La Russa right? Well, Cliff Lee had his own problems too and ended up surrendering five runs in six innings. His 12 hits allowed tied a career high, last achieving the feat on May 3, 2009 in Detroit while a member of the Indians, five teams back in Lee's mind. But Lee was dominant early on, and the below graphic shows Meals' strike zone through three innings, so it includes all of Carpenter's pitches, plus Lee's best stretch of pitching throughout the whole game, holding St. Louis scoreless through three.

Strike zone

As you can see, Meals isn't discriminating against either pitcher, although he doesn't allow the high and inside pitch to lefties. Meals may not be following the rules of a strike zone to a T, but at least he's consistent. Carpenter struggled because Meals wasn't calling the low pitch, which is Carp's bread and butter. But if you see the zone, Meals was actually spot on in not allowing Carpenter to get away with the low pitches out of the zone. Just because the umpire didn't gift Carpenter strikes doesn't give La Russa justification to go and complain about two separate zones, calling the umpire's integrity into question (although we certainly do plenty of that here at Eye on Baseball) when Meals was actually consistent on both sides. (The remainder of the game saw more of the same in Meals' strikezone.)

2011 playoffs
Both pitchers were getting squeezed, but Lee also suffered from bad luck. Some of the Cardinals' hits were flares or balls that snuck through the infield dirt. Hey, it all counts, but it's not as if Lee was getting ripped. He was dinked and dunked to death, and the hits just kept on piling up in the fourth and sixth, with Brad Lidge extricating Lee from further trouble by getting out of a no-out, first-and-third scenario.

After the game, La Russa admitted it wasn't "a great comment to make," and excused it away by saying that everyone cares too much. He later added that the Cardinals have no choice but to adjust to the strike zone that the umpire sets. Sounds like someone is trying to avoid a fine from MLB.

Next time, La Russa would do well to keep his mouth shut from the start and allow the Cardinals to do their speaking on the field. Look at what we're discussing in the postgame, after all, instead of a hard-fought Cardinals win.

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