What in the hell was Tony La Russa thinking last night?


The highlights from last night’s Cardinals-Brewers game are probably focusing on the Yadier Molina argument and ejection, but there was something far more interesting going on here.

Albert Pujols was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning. Runners were on first and third at the time, it was a close game and Pujols leads all of baseball in grounding into double plays.  Clearly in that situation Takashi Saito is not trying to throw at Pujols, right? Hell, even Tony La Russa said after the game that he didn’t think it was intentional.

Nevertheless, in the bottom of the inning La Russa had Jason Motte hit Ryan Braun. He admitted it too, saying after the game that he was “sending a message.” He stood on the top step of the dugout and watched it happen. He did it via two inside pitches and then the plunking.

Setting aside the fact that someone could get hurt, what in the hell was Tony La Russa thinking?  How do you, out of your silly sense of “sending a message” justice, put a leadoff hitter on base ahead of Prince Fielder in a tie game in a pennant race?  How does one’s fealty to the unwritten rules or playing the game the right way or whatever the hell La Russa cares most about trump the clear strategic decision not to put a key game at risk like that?

It ended up working out. Braun didn’t score. The Cardinals ended up winning.  But just because a good outcome was achieved doesn’t mean a good decision was made. And that was a monumentally stupid tactical decision by La Russa. A man purported to be the smartest guy in the room.

Henderson Alvarez signs with Tigres de Quintana Roo

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Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.

The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.

That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.