Jack Clark, who played three seasons for the Cardinals in the 1980s and was the MVP of the World Series squad in 1987, appeared on a St. Louis radio station yesterday and accused the current team of being “quitters” who “have poopy in their pants.”
Here are some quotes from the four-time All-Star first baseman nicknamed “Jack the Ripper”:
I’m really tired of watching the effort, that’s for sure. I’m not seeing a lack of [effort] I’m seeing a pathetic effort. These Cards fans deserve much better. That’s just awful. They won’t admit it, that they’re quitters. If you can’t put a better effort out there on the field, take ’em all out, back up the truck, ship ’em all out and get somebody in here that wants to play baseball. We’ve got one team here [San Diego] going for the title and we’ve got our team going for the toilet. They’ve got poopy in their pants.
For the sake of comedy I’m hesitant to be too critical of any grown man who goes on the radio and utters the phrase “they’ve got poopy in their pants” but the idea that teams have “quit” simply because they’re struggling and underachieving seems a little much. And if you’re going to accuse players of quitting on the team and putting forth “a pathetic effort” shouldn’t you at least have the courage to actually name names?
Which players have quit? Which players have put forth the pathetic effort? Lumping the entire team together means nothing, because clearly some players haven’t quit on anything. Albert Pujols hit .379 with 11 homers and a 1.230 OPS in August, but the Cardinals had an 11-15 record for the month. He’s hit .303/.380/.615 with 18 homers in the second half overall, but the Cardinals are 28-29 since the All-Star break. Obviously he didn’t quit or put forth a pathetic effort, yet he can’t single-handedly stop the team from struggling.
Matt Holliday has hit .324/.396/.545 in the second half. Guys like Yadier Molina and Skip Schumaker have posted better post-break numbers than their career marks. Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, and Jake Westbrook all have an ERA under 3.50 in the second half. Have those guys quit? Are those guys to blame for the second-half struggles and a disappointing season? Seems to me that would be a pretty tough argument to make, so why lump them in as “quitters”?
It’s also worth noting that Clark made headlines earlier this year for opining that Mark McGwire should be banned from baseball for steroid usage, saying: “He’s a sad excuse for a player. Just seeing him in uniform makes me throw up.” Clark also accused Tony La Russa of looking the other way when he was managing McGwire in Oakland and St. Louis.
UPDATE: La Russa fires back.
With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.
“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.
“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”
Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.
Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.
It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.
The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.
Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.
As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.
Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.
Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.
The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.
Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.
MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.
Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.
The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.
This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.