Geovany Soto, Albert Pujols

Are you skeptical of Albert Pujols’ fast return?

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Despite the fact that blogging lends itself to insta-analysis couched in sharp opinions, I think the best analysis of the most difficult topics raises more questions than it does provide easy answers.   That’s the case with Jeff Passan’s piece about Albert Pujols’ quick return to action after breaking a bone in his arm.

Which, though he and I usually disagree fairly sharply when the issue of PEDs come up, is a thoughtful take, particularly at the end where he asks himself if he’s being naive in not buying what some folks on the Internet are selling about what may have fueled Pujols’ quick return.  And he offers this apt bit of insight:

Nearly every team tunes into MLB Network before a game, and the peanut galleries sitting on clubhouse couches deal in snark. I don’t know where it was or who it was, but I guarantee that when the news about Pujols’ return flashed across the screen, another player did one of those fake coughs to muffle the letters “HGH.” He is part of the problem.

I haven’t seen mainstream writers or bloggers accusing Pujols of anything. I have seen a few comments on blogs and tweets making those sorts of insinuations. And I have no doubt that Passan is right about some players questioning it too, if only in jest.

But even if there isn’t a critical mass of people looking askance at Pujols’ quick return, I find it rather depressing that we’re at a point where anyone thinks that is the most likely answer.

Justin Verlander: “I’d like to see the AL and NL have the same rules… I vote NL rules.”

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10:  Starting pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
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On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”

Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:

To that, Archer said:

For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.