Here's what the Cardinals shouldn't do

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burrell.jpgThe Cardinals are in a sort of hot stove limbo, waiting on Matt Holliday to accept or reject their rumored five-year, $80 million offer and at the same time working on a proverbial Plan B if he lands elsewhere.

What “Plan B” involves isn’t exactly clear.  We know the Cards have been keeping tabs on Mark DeRosa, but he’s just moments away from officially signing with the Giants.  The Cardinals have also been linked loosely to Xavier Nady this winter, but it’s quite possible no actual negotiations have taken place.  Pursuing Adrian Beltre would make some sense, and perhaps they’ll even take a look at Jason Bay.

We can dabble in our own set of hypotheticals all night, but what we do know is the Cardinals have a hole in left field and are seeking some offensive protection for Albert Pujols.

Rob Rains of the newly resuscitated St. Louis Globe-Democrat has an idea.  A hypothetical, if you will.  The problem?  It’s not a very good one.

Considering the lack of in-house candidates available,” writes Rains, “…there might be an increasing possibility that the Cardinals
will have to pursue a trade to acquire a left fielder, should the
Holliday stalemate finally reach the breaking point
.”

If, or when, the Cardinals do reach that point, here is a name they
should consider: Pat Burrell
.”

This is not FireJoeMorgan,
and I’m not Ken Tremendous, or dak, or Junior,
but it’s pretty easy to see where Rains’ Globe-Democrat piece goes wrong.  The Cardinals should pursue Pat Burrell?  I’ll agree to disagree.  Actually, I’ll just disagree.

Burrell, 33, finished the 2009 season with an ugly .221/.315/.367 batting line, only 14 home runs and 109 strikeouts in 412 at-bats.  He was unable to stay healthy despite manning designated hitting duties for the Rays and would do little to protect the great Pujols in St. Louis.  Yet, today we read this:

RAINS: “Burrell would fit right into the middle of the lineup as the protector
of Albert Pujols. 
Even though he hits righthanded, much of his power has
come against righthanded pitchers – 164 of his career home runs, as
opposed to only 71 career homers against lefthanders.

Burrell has more home runs against right-handers than he does against lefties.  That’s quite an observation.  Maybe that’s because he has faced 4,331 right-handed pitchers in his career as opposed to just 1,533 southpaws.  In fact, just about every major league hitter with legitimate service time has batted more often against right-handers.

Manny Ramirez, one of the most feared right-handed hitters of all time, has 406 career home runs against right-handed pitchers and just 140 against lefties.  Does that mean he’s a better hitter when facing right-handed competition?  Of course not.  And neither is Burrell.

Burrell vs. RHP:  .249/.348/.463
Burrell vs. LHP:  .269/.403/.513

Ramirez vs. RHP:  .305/.400/.579
Ramirez vs. LHP:  .337/.444/.624

RAINS: “Burrell also is a classic cleanup hitter, which is a status none of the
other potential left-field candidates can claim.

And what, exactly, defines a “classic cleanup hitter?”  Bengie Molina hit cleanup the last two years in San Francisco.  He also finished this season with a lousy .265/.285/.442 batting line and has only reached the 20-homer plateau once in his career.  Is he “classic?”  Mark Teixeira posted a .948 OPS and blasted 39 home runs this season for the Yankees but batted third during 605 of his 609 at-bats.  What’s his status?

RAINS: “Burrell also is not a terrible left fielder. He has played more than
1,100 career games in the majors in left field, averaging about seven
errors a season.

Sure, if you want to ignore all of the progress that has been made in the last 15 years with fielding metrics.  Burrell had a -7.1 UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games) as a left fielder for the Phillies in 2008.  His UZR/150 was -25.2 in 2007 and -13.5 in 2006.   So, yes, Mr. Rains, Burrell is a terrible outfielder.  And your hypothetical Plan B article probably wasn’t worth printing.

Buddy Carlyle named the Braves new replay assistant

Buddy Carlyle
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The Braves have been terrible with respect to replay challenges this year. Almost improbably terrible. Fredi Gonzalez has challenged calls seven times and he’s been unsuccessful on all seven challenges. Given how these things work, it’s likely because he’s getting bad advice from the Braves employee designated to watch the replays and suggest when challenges should be made.

Now Gonzalez is going to have a new guy in that role. A familiar name too: Buddy Carlyle, who Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports, will join the Braves as a coaching assistant who will handle the replay review decisions.

Carlyle, of course, spent nine seasons as a major league pitcher and nearly 20 as a professional overall. Most recently with the Mets last season before calling it a career. He pitched for the Braves as well, from 2007-09.

Now he’ll provide a new and, hopefully, more discerning set of eyes for the Braves’ replay operation.

Garrett Richards needs Tommy John surgery, Andrew Heaney has UCL damage too

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Associated Press
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Bad, bad news for the Los Angeles Angels: their best starter needs Tommy John surgery and their most promising young starter has UCL damage as well.

Jeff Passan reports that Garrett Richards has a torn right ulnar collateral ligament and is expected to need Tommy John surgery. Richards was scratched from today’s start due to fatigue and dehydration, but Passan says they found the UCL tear while examining him yesterday. Richards is the Angels’ ace, having won 13 games in 2014 and 15 games a year ago. So far this year he a 2.34 ERA in six starts.

Heaney, meanwhile, has damage to his left ulnar collateral ligament, Passan reports. He was diagnosed with a flexor muscle strain after he was placed on the disabled list following his first start of the season, but this is obviously more serious. Unlike Richards, the plan at the moment is for Heaney to rehab rather than go under the knife. Sometimes that works. Often it doesn’t and Tommy John happens later. We’ll see.

These twin blows are huge and terrible for the Angels, who already had serious depth issues basically everywhere on the roster. The conventional wisdom before the year started was that, if everything broke right and everyone stayed healthy, they could possibly contend in an often volatile AL West, but that they didn’t have a big margin for error. This is a lot of error. The Angels are 13-15 and four games out in the division as it is. Without two starters on whom they were counting big, it’s hard to see how the rest of the Angels’ season isn’t going to be a total slog.

Willie Mays gets a cable car named after him

Major League Baseball hall of famer  Willie Mays, who spent the majority of his career as a center fielder with the New York and San Francisco Giants, smiles as President Barack Obama honors the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants baseball team, Monday, July 29, 2013, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. The team beat the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series, their second championship since the franchise moved to San Francisco from New York in 1958. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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This is not exactly stunning news, but it’s Willie Mays’ 85th birthday today and any excuse to talk about Willie Mays is a good one. Happy Birthday, Willie!

The pretext is a story in the San Francisco Chronicle about how The Greatest Baseball Player of All Time (my view anyway) is getting an iconic cable car named after him. An icon named after an icon, I guess. The cable car is, appropriately, number 24.

Next month I’m taking my kids on vacation to California and we’re spending a few days in San Francisco. It’ll be a shame when I tell them we have to cancel half of a day’s plans while I make them wait for one particular cable car to come by so they can take my picture with it, but that’s just what they have to deal with given that I’m their dad.

Carlos Gomez calls out a hit piece-writing columnist

Houston Astros' Carlos Gomez (30) reacts after hitting a double in the second inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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Yesterday I wrote about a column written by Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. It was about Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez, who has had a poor start to the year.

The column, as I noted, was a hatchet job, blaming Gomez for the Astros’ problems despite the fact that Gomez is by far from the biggest of the Astros’ problems. It was particularly bad in that it presented an unedited bit of broken English from Gomez which seemed calculated to cast Gomez in a bad light. Many journalists were critical of Smith in this regard, noting that he could’ve used a translator, could have paraphrased or could’ve done some mild correction via brackets, as is often done with quotes from non-native English speakers.

Last night Gomez took to Twitter to call out Smith himself:

It’s possible to write a column about how a player hasn’t lived up to expectations without being an insensitive jackass. It’s possible to do so even in the sharpest of ways. Smith didn’t do that, however, and didn’t make an effort to try, it seems. Gomez is right to take issue with it. And I suspect that Gomez’s teammates and organization take issue with it too. Which likely doesn’t bode well for Smith getting cooperation from others in the Astros family.