The Cardinals have scored fewer runs this season than the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Reds, Red Sox, Marlins, Angels, Rockies, Tigers and Mets, among others, and the frustration is really starting to build in St. Louis. According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it may have reached a tipping point Friday, when superstar slugger Albert Pujols and future Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa shared a heated exchange in the Cardinals’ dugout.
La Russa called for outfielder Ryan Ludwick to steal second base with two outs in the eighth inning and Pujols at the plate. Ludwick, of course, was gunned down, and Pujols was left standing at the dish.
Albert flipped his bat and helmet in disgust, then knocked over two trays of gum in the home dugout. La Russa yelled “that’s enough,” and after a few moments added “I (expletive) know how to manage.”
Both La Russa and Pujols played it off as a non-issue when asked to describe the incident Saturday and it sure sounds like a heat of battle moment. But few would argue that the Cardinals are struggling, or at least under-performing in a weak National League Central division. In fact, the Reds are currently in first place by a half-game.
After letting rumors of the deal percolate for the last week, the Athletics officially announced their two-year, $11 million contract with right-hander Santiago Casilla on Friday (and threw a little bit of shade at the Giants, too). As previously reported, the contract includes an extra $3 million in performance bonuses.
Casilla, 36, got his major league start with Oakland back in 2004, racking up a 5.11 ERA and four saves over six seasons in the A’s bullpen. After picking up a minor league deal with the Giants in 2010, the righty flitted in and out of the closing role with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding a slight downturn in his production rate during the 2016 season, he earned 123 saves and a 2.42 ERA during the past seven years in San Francisco. Securing another closing role might be a little tougher across the Bay, however, with a bullpen that includes fellow closers Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle.
Why is this man smiling? Man, I wouldn’t be smiling if I read what I just read.
This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility.
For the second straight year, Law ranks the Braves as the best system in baseball. Number two — making a big leap from last year’s number 13 ranking – is the New York Yankees. Dead last: the Arizona Diamondbacks, which Law says “Dave Stewart ritually disemboweled” over the past two years. That’s gotta hurt.
If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone.