St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers

Wait: is Albert Pujols a big jerk or something? Since when?

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I’ve had an interesting conversation with some Brewers fans on Twitter in the past few minutes.  It started when a guy named @brewfangrb called me and a couple others out for being critical of Nyjer Morgan in the wake of last night’s dustup with the Cardinals. The point wasn’t to defend Morgan — the guy and many others who later took up his argument were clear that Morgan wasn’t being a model citizen last night — but to ask why no one ever criticizes Albert Pujols.

So I asked: what’s on Pujols’ rap sheet? Because I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone talk about him in the way people talk about Nyjer Morgan. And it’s that equivalency that is important because it was the unequal treatment that set my critics off.

In response to my question I got (a) a link to an incident in 2006 when he said that Tom Glavine “wasn’t very good” even though he beat the Cardinals; and (b) I got many references to the fact that Pujols hot dogs his home runs (which he certainly does).  But beyond that ….?  Really, how is Albert Pujols a jerk worthy of equal condemnation to Nyjer Morgan, who has been a serial jackass throughout his major league career? And has less than a scintilla of a percentage of Pujols’ baseball accomplishments under his belt?  And yes that matters. If you can back your stuff up you should be afforded a little more latitude. That’s how cockiness and its attendant behavior works.

So sure, Pujols probably didn’t need to run across the field last night, as it did likely escalate things. But let’s keep in mind the entirety of the situation. Nyjer Morgan has a track record of charging the mound. He was clearly trying to provoke something last night.  If there is a situation where the biggest guy on the field can feel justified about getting between his pitcher and trouble that’s it.

But Pujols-as-jackass? Sorry, folks. Unless you can cite some examples apart from “he beats the crap out of my team all the time and I hate him for it,” I’m not buying.

UPDATE: I was just tweeted this link by its author. It’s a couple of years old, but it adds to the conversation I suppose. Pujols smirks on occasion, in a manner that allows a Brewers fan to fill the smirk with meaning. OK.

UPDATE: Another data point: Pujols once complained that he was snubbed for the MVP and that the MVP should come from a playoff team. The fact that the MVP went to Ryan Howard that year is enough — if I say any more about it — to set off the biggest comment sh**storm this blog has ever seen, so I’ll leave it alone.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.