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.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.