pujols homer reuters

What they’re saying about Albert Pujols’ historic night

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Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols tallied a World Series record 14 total bases in Saturday night’s 16-7 Game 3 defeat of the Rangers. He went 5-for-6 with six RBI and four runs scored, homering three times to join the proverbial Mount Rushmore of postseason performers. Only Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson had homered three times in a World Series game before Albert joined them in accomplishing the feat.

Let’s take a trip around the web to see what others are saying about Pujols’ historical performance:

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com: “This isn’t a tale about how many zillions of dollars Albert Pujols is about to add to his 401(k) this winter. This isn’t a tale about whether Albert Pujols owes it to the American public to talk to media knuckleheads like us after a World Series game. No, this is just a tale about what really matters at times like this — the tale of how the greatest hitter in our solar system took an electrifying journey into the history books on a crazy Saturday evening in October.”

MLB.com’s Matthew Leach: “It would not have been unreasonable to think Albert Pujols had nothing left to accomplish in baseball. It just would have been wrong. Add one more line to the résumé of the greatest hitter of his generation: Pujols turned in the greatest individual hitting performance in World Series history on Saturday night.”

Rangers manager Ron Washington: “Between him and [Miguel] Cabrera, you need to outlaw them. They’re just that good.The guy just got locked in after his first at-bat tonight. I thought we had put him away. Next thing you know, the ball is up in the third deck.”

Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa: “There were a couple times in the dugout during the middle of the game we said let’s have a game like we’ll never forget. That’s kind of what he did.’’

Gil LeBreton, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “Pujols batted in four consecutive innings, fourth through seventh. He hit a single, a single, a home run and then another homer. And for anyone who wasn’t yet stupefied, Pujols launched another fly ball into the left-field seats in the top of the ninth.”

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “When the scoreboard stopped flashing, when the smoke cleared, when the Texas Rangers’ pitchers wobbled into the clubhouse to receive stitches, Albert Pujols finally dropped his bat. … Pujols went deep into his own heart, and then deep into the heart of Texas.”

Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports: “North Texas has its way of lookin’ at things, and then of puttin’ ‘em. And right about the time the Texas Rangers were gettin’ plum pole-axed Saturday night on Nolan Ryan Expressway, as they were witnessing and participating in one of the great offensive performances – if not the greatest – in World Series history, they’d bought themselves another folksy idiom: Son, you don’t get into a hittin’ contest with Albert Pujols.”

SI.com’s Tom Verducci: “Lincoln at Gettysburg. Hendrix at Woodstock. Pujols at Arlington. The performance of a lifetime.”

Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “You know you’re getting old(er) when you see something like tonite and reckon you’ll never see it again.”

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.