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La Russa of course burned up Botts in '99, at first because he had little choice - Walt had left the cupboard pretty bare - and later because he hoped to get him that 20th win.
But Walt has to get some credit for converting the burnt out husk of Botts into Jim Edmonds, once DeWitt made the payroll available to keep him.
Joe Poe weighs in on the slump:
I also read a Tim Brown column today that says "Pujols has had months like this before..."The Machine (Pujols Edition)
What has made Albert Pujols utterly amazing, of course, is that he has been a machine. This is so true that people call him "The Machine." Until his sorta-psuedo-semi struggles last year -- where he only ended up fifth in the MVP voting and hit less than .300 for the first time in his life -- you could not even IMAGINE him struggling.
Yes, of course, if you looked deeper, he had his struggles now and again. No man is a machine. He had his power outages. He had his injuries. He had his months where he stumbled. For instance there was July 2001, when he hit .241 with little power.
*But that little fact might kind of prove the point: If you don't include last year, I had to go back to his ROOKIE SEASON to find a month when he hit less than .250. Even last year, he only had one month when he did it -- he hit .245 in April.
But in large part, Pujols' career is defined by sheer relentlessness. His best season, great as it is, might not be quite as great as Ruth's best, Bonds' best, Mantle's best, Brett's best, Yaz's best, Mays' best, Ted Williams' best, Frank Robinson's best and so on. But with Pujols, it was always difficult to even pick which WAS his best season. Was it the year he hit .327 with 47 homers and led the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage? Was it the year hit .359 with 51 doubles and 43 homers? Was it the year he hit .331, led the league in slugging, hit 49 homers and won the Gold Glove? Was it the year he hit .357, walked 100 times and led the league in total bases?
Was it … well, you get the point. They were all great. Every single one. It was a career like Aaron's or Musial's or Gehrig's -- an annual barrage of greatness.
And that's why Albert Pujols' April means something, I think. I'm not sure exactly what it means -- I do try to avoid falling for that temptress called Small Sample Size -- but it was the worst month of Albert Pujols' career. He did not hit a single home run. He could not get on base. He is in a new ballpark that is tougher on hitters than his old one. He's playing in a new league with different pitchers, perhaps a a few better ones. He's playing in front of new fans who do not love him as much as the old St. Louis fans did -- and why should they? He's playing under the hailstorm of a 10-year, $240 million contract. And, let's face it, he is 32 years old (while cynics snicker).
It means something, I think. Does it mean that Albert Pujols is done as a great player? Of course not. But baseball can be a cruel game. Cal Ripken never had a great season after age 30. Willie McCovey had his last great season at 32. AL Kaline's last great season was around 32 too. The years are harsher than people ever want to believe. And they turn in one direction.
I suspect that Pujols will soon have a stretch of hitting awesomeness that will blow the mind and once again remind America that he is Albert Pujols. And everyone will say, 'OK, Albert's as great as ever.' But it might not be that easy. I have this theory about age. Remember the McDonald's commercials about the McDLT which kept the "hot side hot and the cool side cool?" Jason Alexander was in one of those commercials. Anyway, I think that one thing that happens with age is that the hot side loses some of it's heat, and the cool side gets a little colder. I've been convinced that streaks and slumps are largely illusions of time and chance, but they still happen. The month Albert Pujols just had -- with a .265 on-base percentage -- was simply not a possibility for a 25-year-old Pujols, not over a 100 plate appearances.
And while he will undoubtedly have big stretches -- look at Derek Jeter's April -- how many of them does he have left? And how long will those stretches be? Does he have another 50-game streak in him where he hits .370/.450/650? How about a 40-game stretch? A 30-gamer?
I looked at Pujols' first 23 games every season of his career. Of course, it doesn't mean all that much. Six-sevenths of the season remains. But even if you just look at the first 23 games, Albert Pujols was a machine. He struggled a bit in the early going last year and also in 2007. But neither was anything like this year's start. And the other years are, well, Pujols-like.
Pujols told Jon Paul Morosi that he is not pressing, and that this is just the rhythm of baseball, and that he doesn't care what anybody says, and that his numbers will be there at the end of the year. These are exactly the things he should be saying. And these are exactly the things he should be believing.
But, he really does look helpless up there at the moment. It could be a passing thing. But I can never remember that happening before.
Albert Pujols through 23 games:
2001: .379/.443/.759 with 8 homers
2002: .286/.419/.571 with 5 homers
2003: .359/.456/.594 with 3 homers
2004: .287/.411/.609 with 7 homers
2005: .330/406/.606 with 6 homers
2006: .351/.495/.909 with 13 homers
2007: .247/.337/.494 with 6 homers
2008: .377/.525/.610 with 4 homers
2009: .337/.457/.675 with 8 homers
2010: .344/.438/.656 with 7 homers
2011: .250/.313/.500 with 7 homers
2012: .217/.265/..304 with 0 homers
No, no he has not. in fact, he's had nothing close to a month like this before. I suppose he could mean '30 day stretches' but even that seems unlikely. The month he just had gave him an OPS about .250 pts below any complete month he's had as a big-leaguer. He's never had a month without a HR and the nearly 3-1 K/BB ratio is new as well.
No, Albert has never had a month even approaching the futility he put up in April.
He's not what he once was.
And to answer JoePoe's question, his best season was 2003.
It's probably the best season I'll ever see by a major league player (that isn't named Barry Bonds). He was otherwordly that year.
When these things start happening, they're not accidental.
He has not had a 30 day stretch like this - even when he had broken bones.
A bad month?
This is a guy that it was unusual for him to have a bad 3 game SERIES.
How would it be possible to keep your competitive edge if you knew you were going to be paid $240M for the next 10 years of your life, whether or not your stats justified it?
Pujols may be in physical decline, but his mental sharpness has to be dulled, too. He's signed his last contract. He has nothing more to prove, nothing more to work for. How could someone not expect lessened performance?
Young, dumb and time is knocking on #5's door. We were all good at something once. If you can't understand what I mean, you will....eventually.
We're all enjoying this but I think deep down we know he's gonna go on a tear sometime. He might even put up decent numbers for the season.
Of course, even so, it still wont make that contract anything but foolish.
They're already so far behind, it's laughable.
But, I'd still like to see them 25 games out.
Even when he struggled last April, he still was hitting the long ball....
This year his average is horrible and he has no power....if a "no-name" rookie were putting up stats like he has he'd be back in the minors.
Based on the stats, he was one of the worst players in MLB last month
If he's guilty of anything at all, it's almost certainly pressing too hard.
At any rate, whatever the cause - and I think it is getting hard to deny the age effect - I am glad to have seen Albert give us some of the best seasons in major league history. And I am glad we aren't stuck with his current contract, or anything close to it.
"I know what I need to do, and I'm making my adjustment," Pujols said. "I've been doing it for 12 years, so I know my hitting. Only God knows my swing better than me. When you're going through things like this, you've got to be careful who you listen to, because you have so many hitting coaches."
His actual hitting coach, Mickey Hatcher, irked Pujols on Monday night after the slugger learned the coach had shared fairly innocuous details about a pregame team meeting.
"That stuff needs to be private," Pujols said. "He should have never told the media. What we talked about at the meeting, not disrespecting Mickey, but that stuff should stay behind closed doors."
Dee Gordon of the Dodgers has more homers than El humbleo, the skinny s/s hit his first tonight.
Instead of spending so much time going down on prostitutes, Dan Lozano ought to have had some baseball analyst evaluate all the balls Albert hit in the National League and assess what that would do to his numbers in the home ballparks of the teams pursuing him.
hmmmCiti Field's dimensions are so unfair that they are bringing in, and lowering, the fences for the 2012 campaign. That being the case, riddle me this; where's the uproar for the new Busch Stadium? Citi Field's run index is 91, compared with 92 for Busch Stadium. The home run factor for left-handed hitters in Citi Field is 90, which is better than the 86 in Busch Stadium. For right-handers, it is even worse, 78 in New York and 73 in St. Louis. Maybe there was another reason Albert Pujols left St. Louis; the pursuit of the home run record.
0-3 already tonight
He used to hit a lot of laser shots into the stands, so I'm not sure that I agree with the argument about the ballpark dimensions. He also tends to hit most of them deep rather than barely over the wall. It's also not like he's hitting anything away from home either. The marine effect and dimensions of the home ballpark can only be used for so long as an excuse for his lack of production.
What I've noticed with Albert so far this season from my own observations, is that his stance seems vastly different than his previous seasons, to go along with his swinging at balls out of the zone where he's trying to pull them. I wonder if his wife is no longer coaching him. She was the only one that could get him out of any real slump.
Tonight so far he's 0-3, with an RBI on a very bad swing where he grounded out and luckily got a run in. It's only his 5th RBI of the season.
Over his career, Albert would've hit 9 more HRs in Anaheim than he did in STL (would've lost 2, gained 11). It seems strange that he's already lost 5 in Anaheim, but maybe it's just because he didn't use to pull as many balls into LF as he does now.
The guy that really made a bad ballpark call was Fielder. Comerica has a freakin' cavernous RF gap and Fielder put several balls in that general vicinity that were bombs in Milwaukee that would've been loud outs in Detroit.
I'm more inclined to blame the 'marine layer' at this point than I am the stadium. Then again, he hasn't hit any on the road either - so maybe he's just been lousy to this point.
Yeah, I'd say that's probably the case.
I wasn't watching that closely, and I already deleted the recording. I did notice that they talked a lot about Albert's problems and I fast forwarded over most of it.
I was googling to see if I could find anything else about where Albert has hit the ball in April and I found where Bleacher Report rated all 30 stadiums to his hitting profile. Given your comment about Fielder, I found the following interesting.
Comerica favors left-handed batters, especially lefties who pull the ball, but all batters must contend with a 420 foot deep centerfield fence. The fences in left field were even further back when the stadium first opened, but were moved in due to the lack of home runs hit in the park.
Pure pull hitters do not find Comerica Park terribly difficult to deal with, but as the wall gets deeper as it approaches centerfield, pitchers benefit more and more. Because of this, if Pujols plays more games in Detroit, increasing the sample size, his numbers will almost certainly drop significantly.
The Angels stadium ranked 19th, only a couple spots higher than Comerica Park.
Despite its many renovations, Angel Stadium is still very much of its time—it was opened in 1966—and thus fits the cookie cutter mold. Renovations changed parts of the right field fence, but the left field fence is still a uniform 330 feet at the pole, 387 feet in left-center and 400 feet at center field.
Left-handed batters have a much shorter fence to contend with, though it reaches 19 feet in height. Still, right-handed batters, though dealing with a longer fence, can hit the ball to any part of the left side of the outfield fence and be assured the ball won't fall in front of a strangely angled portion of the wall.
Busch ranked 7th.
Whether playing at the last version of Busch Stadium or the most recent, Pujols doesn't seem to care, as long as he's playing at home. Indeed, his numbers have been eerily similar at both stadiums: .334 at Busch II and .333 at Busch III, and a home run every 6.5 percent of at-bats at Busch II and every 6.8 percent at Busch III.
Busch Stadium's outfield wall is nearly uniform, and reaches a maximum of 400 feet in center field, creating a friendly atmosphere for power hitters. Additionally, though the foul territory is rather large, it disappears in the final feet before the foul pole, giving an advantage to batters who tend to hit foul balls a long distance.
These factors add up to a positive situation for Pujols' needs, and though he is considering whether he wants to leave St. Louis, he should take into account the advantages granted to him by playing at Busch.
I looked at the Angels schedule for April and counted 11 games at home in 19th ranked Anaheim, 3 in Minnesota (29th ranked), 3 in Yankee Stadium (22nd ranked, 3 games in Cleveland (12th ranked), and 3 games in Tampa (2nd ranked).
Perhaps the biggest difference in 2001-2009 Pujol$ and the later version?Not only has Pujols not homered in 84 at-bats this season, he hasn't driven in a run in 12 games and is batting .226 with four RBIs. He's been so passive at the plate, taking fastball after fastball for first-pitch strikes, that he seems to have an 0-and-1 count when he's standing in the on-deck circle.
In an effort to get a feel for new pitchers in a new league, the former St. Louis Cardinals star has been taking pitches early in at-bats, but opponents are going right at him, getting ahead with 0-2 and 1-2 counts and putting Pujols on the defensive.
The result: Pujols, in more of a protect than attack mode, has swung at too many pitches out of the strike zone, producing weak contact and more strikeouts. Pujols did single during a scoring rally in the first inning Saturday, but in his third at-bat, he struck out on three pitches, the third a Jeanmar Gomez fastball he watched go right down the middle.
"There's been a little cat-and-mouse game as he's trying to figure out what pitchers are doing," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's no doubt that at times he's been a little bit passive in trying to figure things out and gotten into some poor hitting counts. And at times he's expanded his zone and gotten into some poor counts by being too aggressive. He'll figure it out."
When he came up, it didn't matter a bit if he had 2 strikes on him. There was no such thing as a "bad hitter's count".
El Humbleo and hitting coach Mickey Hatcher are now having a spat. El Humbleo is miffed as to why Hatcher repeated some of his comments to the press during a players only meeting. "Mickey should not have said that I will talk to him about that later" The heat is on folks.
When you're 32 years old with a bat that's slowing and have developed into quite the pull hitter these days, getting behind 0-2 in the count is damn near a death sentence.
http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/sc...nt-behind-themPujols essentially has been in his own climate-controlled cocoon in St. Louis ... but the new contract, new league and new surroundings has ripped him from his comfort zone.
In St. Louis, manager Tony La Russa always had Pujols' back, whether the slugger was right, wrong or indifferent to a situation.
Following Game 2 of last year's World Series, Pujols committed a crucial ninth-inning error that hurt the Cardinals in a 2-1 loss and then left Busch Stadium before speaking with reporters. The Cardinals' company line, led by La Russa, was that Pujols had been in the clubhouse kitchen and when nobody asked to speak with him, he left.
Which was utterly absurd. Neither Pujols nor the Cardinals should have needed to be told that the media horde covering the World Series would have liked the opportunity to ask him about that ninth inning play. It was not their first rodeo.
But that was the Cardinals, and La Russa. They came equipped with automatic airbags that protected Pujols from any dangerous or uncomfortable collisions.
http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/jo...-hitting-coachPujols is probably just mad in general these days. Nobody figured he'd knock in only four runs his first month as the Angels' new savior. That he'd carry a puny .570 OPS into May. And that he'd be outslugged over an entire month by perennially struggling ex-Angel Chone Figgins or perennially light-hitting ex-Angel Jeff Mathis.
Manager Mike Scioscia could stand up for his friend Hatcher and paint it as a misunderstandoing borne out of the frustration of their first-month flop. But really, it is up to Albert to spare Hatcher. Pujols has to know there have been items the past couple days in the Los Angeles Times and MLB.com about the tenuousness of Hatcher's current employment.
Pujols needs to do what he can to spare the job of the man who already had a target the size of Angels Stadium on his back. And by the way, that target exists thanks to the struggles of Pujols (and the others).
And don't think the Angels won't can Hatcher, either. The Angels have a recent history of blaming the little people. Or at least of firing them.
The Angels fired scouting director Eddie Bane not too long after he picked future superstar Mike Trout with the 25th pick in the draft. They fired longtime trainer Ned Bergert, the fellow whose quick thinking in the team's bad 1992 bus crash spared further pain and suffering and earned him a promotion to head trainer at the time. They've fired tens more, too, in Arte Moreno's reign.
All, it seems, to have saved up enough money to import a superstar with a colossal contract and a misplaced sense of what should be said by whom.
ha I am going to use that pic.
Heck, he celebrated May Day by collecting his fifth RBI of the season with a fielder's choice yesterday......
Even with his miserable start both the 30 hr and 100 rRBIs season targets are within reach. Instead of averaging 17 RBIs per month, he has to now average 19, instead of 6-7 hrs per month, he has to only average 8. These were very do-able for Albert the Card, not so sure for Albert the Angel..... Even if he does attain these goals, or come close to them this year, his three year trend of steeper, more frequent slumps will get worse. We dodged a huge bullet.............
Last edited by RHinSD; 05-02-2012 at 11:58 AM.
I hear DeDe is tuning up for a press conference to denounce Mickey Hatcher. None of you Angels' fans really understand what a horrible hitting coach he is!
Is there anyone left that--even at this early juncture in the 2012
season--would go back and give Pujolio the same contract that was the Card's last offer to him?
How about half that much for 5 years?
Even more so now.
Still, I thought a StL lifetime deal would get done. Mainly because I thought Pujolio$$$ would see the lifetime value in it.
This is like investing in the stock market today.
May still be sorry some day. But all things considered, very glad he's not a Cardinal at this point.
There's no way to know. However I *think* that had he stayed here, he'd be off to a much better start. There's no doubt he's pressing. I also think he might have let out glimpses of 2nd guessing the decision before the season ever started.
Actually I think I can relate to how he probably feels. I know last month when I signed on w/ the Guard to finish out my 10 yrs to get my retirement, I had a serious moment of panic like "WTF holy shit did I really just do that?!?!" I'm still seriously uneasy about it. I wanted to tear up the paperwork and be like sorry, just kid'n!....I imagine Payols is really in his own head questioning WTF he did.