Albert Pujols

The last word on the Albert Pujols-media thing

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Game 3 of the World Series is just a few hours away, so hopefully this is the last we hear about this topic for a while, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com wrote an enlightening column this morning on the Albert Pujols situation.

Rosenthal focused specifically on the symbiotic relationship between members of the media, players and fans. I have never been in an MLB clubhouse, so I can’t relate completely to his role as a beat writer, but his commentary is pretty spot on.

Below is a quick sample of his thoughts on the matter, but I highly recommend you go read the column for yourself:

Players give reporters their version of events. Reporters gain a richer understanding of what happened. Readers and viewers benefit from the additional insight.

Yet, it blew me away Friday how many fans on Twitter responded angrily to the criticism of Pujols, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina for making themselves unavailable after Game 2.

Anti-media types consider reporters to be pests. Fanboys want to hear only the best about their favorite players and teams. But the daily contact between reporters and players produces not just quotes, but also background information for context. And the checks and balances actually work both ways.

Beat writers and local columnists are the most accountable. You rip a player, you show up the next day to take your medicine. That’s the ethic of the baseball-writing fraternity, and I can personally attest from my days with The Baltimore Sun that it leads to many sleepless nights.

Such accountability is healthy, often prompting restraint. Judging from Twitter, many fans took exception with the other side of the argument, that players should be accountable to reporters. Well, reporters essentially are conduits to fans, means to an end.

Well said.

I think most of us can agree that Pujols was in the wrong in this situation. As a veteran player, he should know that reporters will want to talk to him following a World Series game, especially when he was involved in a critical play in the ninth inning.

I don’t disagree with Rosenthal’s perspective as a beat writer, he pretty much nails it here, but my main issue is that quite a few prominent columnists went off course and called this a failure of leadership on Pujols’ part. That beat writers were looking for context of a particular play is fine and expected, and Pujols should certainly know better, but there’s no need for such hyperbole and exaggeration. Unless one of his teammates, Jon Jay, for example, calls out Pujols publicly, I have no way of knowing he let his teammates down. We can assume it, but how can we possibly know for sure?

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.

Michael Bourn to miss four weeks with a broken finger

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 6:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles looks out of the dugout as he waits to get on deck to bat during the sixth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 6, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.

The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.

Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.