Eckstein: Pujols would stay if Jose Oquendo got the Cardinals managing gig

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Some very gritty insight from former World Series MVP David Eckstein:

“Albert would stay if (Jose) Oquendo got the job”

No word on whether Pujols’ agent agrees with that. Also no word on whether or not the Cardinals will lower their offer to Pujols to, say $16 million while hiring Oquendo to find out if Eckstein in right.

Whatever. The hook to all of that is Eckstein’s view that Oquendo is very popular among Cardinals players, particularly infielders who he helps coach, and that Oquendo has been groomed to replace La Russa. Which he may very well have been.

But just as it seems silly to suggest that La Russa’s leaving will impact Pujols’ free agency decision — La Russa wasn’t likely to manage the entire length of Pujols’ next contract anyway — it seems silly to say that the choice of new manager will influence Pujols’ decision making anywhere close to the nature of the contract offer will.

And remember: it’s not at all certain that they’ll hire a manager before Pujols’ contract is put to bed. They may want to — and it might make a lot of sense to — but it may not come down that way.

 

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.