Saturday, May 02, 2009

Where's The Pujols

The Cardinals, coming into today, were pacing the league in win percentage, and their fate rests on the shoulders of two people: Albert Pujols and Pitching Coach Dave Duncan.  If either of the two does not participate in a given game, the team's chances of winning drop by about 75%.  Dave Duncan has his hand in just about every game, so it's really a "yes or no" on the presence of The Great Pujols in the lineup.  Albert did not play today, and the Cards got dumped, spanked, and disciplined by Shairon Martis and the Washington Nationals.  It's not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things (though it did probably cost me/us the Cardinals money-line bet), but it raises the always-interesting question of the difference between an "important game" and one deemed "not important."

How does a manager decide if a game is important?  Often times the decision to rest a particular player is made easier by that player's success (or lack thereof) against a particular opposing starter.  But in the case of Pujols today, he'd be facing Shairon Martis for the first time -- generally a situation where Albert can tee off.  Why not rest Albert in a game that the Cardinals will already have a tough time winning?  Perhaps the last game of a 9-game road trip against a non-divisional opponent's top starter.  Oh well.

KENDRY MORALES - I always get excited when a position player legitimately earns a spot on the pickup list.  Morales, the Angels first baseman (with OF eligibility in most fantasy leagues), has really picked up his offensive game.  Over the last 8 days, Morales is 8-for-22 with 3 homers and 7 driven in.  There isn't an obvious explanation as to why Morales picked up his game, but the Angels are very high on the kid, and he may just now be beginning to realize some of his potential.

RYAN SPILBORGHS - Injuries in Colorado have forced Spilborghs into a permanent starting role (as opposed to a platoon), and Ryan may have performed well enough to lock down that play time even when his left-handed counterpart returns.  Spilborghs homered twice today against country hardballer Matt Cain, stole 2 bags, and raised his season average to .309.  Just imagine the kind of numbers he could put up at Coors Field, if this is how he does at the pitcher's foggy paradise in San Francisco.  He'll have his off days, but batting near the top of the order for any team that plays 81 games a mile above sea level means a bundle of runs scored.

JUSTIN UPTON - J-Ups is getting on a hot streak.  He hit a home run tonight that I highly recommend you view on replay somewhere.  A prolific shot into the Miller Park upper deck that the cameraman had issues trailing also forced me to let out something of a squeak in my lounge chair.  I had the unique pleasure of meeting Justin in Visalia, and if you've seen the kid when he's on his game, you know he can easily hit 10 home runs in the next 5 games.  Hopefully this is a sign he's beginning to figure things out, but in all likelihood, he'll cool off again.

BILL HALL - Had a 1-for-4 night against (maybe) the best pitcher in the NL tonight, Dan Haren, but prior to this one, Hall had been 10-for-25 to raise his season average to .299.  I recommend Bill as an injury replacement, since he probably won't maintain the near-.300 hitting clip, but he may very well continue to hit homers.

ADAM LAROCHE - I swear if I have to list him again I'll stab you in the face.

RYAN MADSON - Bad news.  Lidge is back, and without much fanfare, might I add.  Time to unload Madson.

JUAN CRUZ - Same deal, but Joakim Soria.
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