La Russa, Pujols involved in yelling match

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la russa and pujols.jpgThe 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.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.