Is A-Rod’s contract a blueprint for an Albert Pujols deal?

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes today about how the Yankees dealt with Alex Rodriguez’s last contract. It could be instructive, Goold notes, given how the Cardinals are now poised to give out the biggest contract in the game’s history.

The story is interesting because it touches on something that has always troubled me: if teams can’t give players bonuses for actual performance benchmarks like 100 RBI or 40 home runs, why can the Yankees give A-Rod bonuses for hitting his 660th home run, for example?  The answer is that MLB approved the language in A-Rod’s deal specially.  It doesn’t say how those clauses are distinguishable from the banned ones, of course. Makes it seem like the Yankees and A-Rod were maybe given special treatment. Which would not surprise me at all.

As for Pujols, I’m not sure how the A-Rod example could come into play.  The milestone game has been more or less ruined as a result of steroids souring everyone on Bonds, A-Rod and their friends in the PED-using community. All-Star appearance bonuses and the like aren’t going to cut it because Pujols will get support for that sort of thing even after he’s ceased to be a force.

It seems like the Cardinals will just have to write Pujols giant checks.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.