The Cards slugger is going to land somewhere soon, here's a few different possibilities
Albert Pujols is dominating the MLB hot stove headlines right now. One of the greatest players in baseball history (who has never tested positive for steroids) is now a free agent and is testing the waters to haul in a giant payday. Reports have surfaced that the Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs have offered Pujols a 10-year deal.
Keep tabs on latest projections and signings here.
The 2012 Free Agency fun has really begun now. The Angels opened the Disney vault for Pujols and Wilson, while the Marlins make headlines on the other coast. Teams listed for Unsigned players are projections for 2012. The chart is updated daily. Some salary figures are rounded and all salary numbers are in millions.
St. Louis can enjoy Albert Pujols one last time in Game 7 of the World Series.
by Nathan Rush
Albert Pujols’ last game as a St. Louis Cardinal is Game 7 of the World Series. The stage is set for a Michael Jordan or John Elway hero’s exit. But instead of retiring a champion, Pujols will dive into the free-agent pool in search of a 10-year, $300 million contract.
Where does Game 6 rank among the best World Series games of all-time?
Was last night’s Game 6 the greatest World Series game ever? Tough to say. After all, the World Series has been played 107 times now.
I wasn’t alive for the 1960 World Series, but that Game 7 was pretty wild. I remember staying up late and seeing the Carlton Fisk home run in 1975. I watched Reggie hit his three home runs in a row in 1977. The Kirk Gibson home run was magnificent, but it wasn’t in an elimination game; we all knew there would be a Game 2. The 2001 World Series was littered with great moments and unlikely heroes with a dramatic Game 7.
But 20 years ago last night, the 1991 World Series ended in epic fashion. I maintain that the 1991 Series was the best I saw. Game 7 was tense from the first pitch through the 10th inning. It was winner-take-all, no tomorrow. It certainly didn’t hurt that the 1991 affair was preceded by four one-run games, three won on walk-offs that enhanced the drama.
John Smoltz pitched brilliantly for 7.1 innings, Jack Morris for 10. Morris retired the Braves in order in both the ninth and 10th innings to give the Twins a chance. Dan Gladden led off the tenth with a double off Alejandro Pena, which was the difference-making at-bat.
That game, 20 years ago, was a well-played game on both sides, with one baserunning lapse by Lonnie Smith that could have made the difference.
But last night’s game?
Last night’s game was like putting Bill Buckner’s error, Joe Carter’s home run, Carlton Fisk’s home run, Luis Gonzalez’s blooper off the fist, Tony Fernandez’s misplay, Curt Flood’s misstep, Babe Ruth getting thrown out stealing second and Edgar Renteria’s hit all in one game. There were three Series-ending home runs — or at least thought to be at the time — hit by Texas. Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz and certainly Josh Hamilton all had potential game-winning home runs. It just so happened that none of them held up. The Cardinals made three errors that should have cost them the game. The Rangers returned the favor with a couple of their own.
There’s no doubt last night’s game cannot be matched for sheer drama and suspense. But until the eighth inning, it wasn’t a well-played game and left both teams — well, the Texas Rangers — kicking themselves over missed opportunities.
Pitchers were at the plate with the game on the line. Derek Holland got an out with the bases loaded to preserve a one-run lead to save the game in the sixth inning. At least 20 different players were involved in game-deciding plays. And that may have been just from the eighth inning on.
I was only a year old when the National League pennant wasn’t decided until the final day of the season in 1964, but I can’t imagine any more exciting baseball over 30 days than what we’ve witnessed since the final day of the regular season. Tonight will be the 38th of a possible 41 postseason games this year. That’s an incredible run for baseball.
The Braves and Red Sox were comfortably in as wild card teams until the Cardinals and Rays refused to die on their deathbeds. St. Louis upset the Phillies, winning an epic Game 5 in the NLDS, then defeated the best home team in the majors twice in their park to win the NLCS. And down to their last strike twice, the Cardinals managed to keep breathing while many of their fans may not have been.
I love Game 7s more than any other game in sports — more than the Super Bowl, more than the Final Four. But Game 7 tonight may not be able to live up to what we witnessed last night.
Incredible. And just for the record, I would have been disappointed if Joe Buck hadn’t honored his father with “We’ll see you tomorrow night.”
In Game 5, Tony La Russa sure didn't look like the 3rd best manager in MLB history
by Josh Kipnis
Game 5 of the World Series was a disaster for the St. Louis Cardinals; they couldn’t hit with runners in scoring position, they couldn’t take advantage of Chris Carpenter’s great outing, and manager Tony La Russa lost his mind.
The Rangers made the most of scoring opportunities while the same cannot be said about the Cardinals
by Josh Kipnis
My favorite baseball colloquialism to call out to a teammate at the plate is “Right man, right spot.” It is the ultimate pick-me-up; it says, you are the man for the job and the time to do that job is now.
Going into the potential last game of the World Series, the Texas Rangers have taken this motto to heart in every one of their wins in this big showdown.
With little hope in mid-September, the St. Louis Cardinals somehow have managed to find their way into the NLCS for the fourth time in eight years. Meanwhile in Milwaukee, the Brewers will play in the NLCS for the first time in their history. Back in 1982, the Brewers played in the ALCS and defeated the California Angels to reach the World Series.
This series could not be much more evenly matched. The two teams split their 18 games this season and know each other so well. Both feature big boppers in the heart of the lineup and pretty good, but not great, starting pitching. The only real difference lies in the bullpens. The Brewers’ dependable bullpen gives Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke comfort in knowing his team is 81-1 with a lead after eight innings. Setup men Takashi Saito and Francisco Rodriguez in front of closer John Axford take the pressure off the Brewers’ starters to have to go more than six innings. The much-maligned Cardinals’ bullpen was shaky at best for much of the season. But there have been fewer better performances than the Redbirds’ relievers gave with six shutout innings in their Game 2 comeback win over Philadelphia.
Milwaukee has been the best team at home throughout the season, but rest assured, the Cardinals will not be intimidated. They just survived the Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Oswalt gauntlet and won Game 5 before a raucous crowd in Philadelphia. And since August 1, after both teams made final adjustments to their rosters, the Cardinals won seven of 12 meetings. No doubt this series will be a battle between these two familiar rivals of the National League Central.
The Cardinals’ offense, which led the NL in runs during the regular season, struggled with only 19 runs and two home runs in the five NLDS games.
Keys for St. Louis
The Cardinals must get quality innings from the bullpen. Manager Tony La Russa was able to play matchups and manage his way through some tough innings, especially in Game 2, against the Phillies. Unlike the Brewers. the Cardinals don’t have the consistent go-to guys late in the game. La Russa was a master at controlling matchups in the series with Philadelphia by mixing and matching his entire bullpen.
Keys for Milwaukee
As good as the Brewers have been at home this season, they lost both games at Arizona and didn’t look like the same team. So they must hold serve at home. It was also clear how much they rely on their stars, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. As the series with Arizona wore on, the Diamondbacks pitched around the two MVP candidates. Expect similar treatment from St. Louis, so the Brewers must have clutch performances from the supporting cast.
Cardinals to Watch
Albert Pujols is poised to break out this postseason. He hit the Phillies well enough to receive an intentional walk that loaded the bases with one out for Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday late in Game 5. Rafael Furcal will set the table and spark the offense. Look for Yadier Molina to provide a clutch bat.
Brewers to Watch
Expect Jerry Hairston, Corey Hart and Nyjer Morgan to step up in support of Braun and Fielder. Hairston had a good series against St. Louis in late August and was clutch in the Arizona series. Hart drove in 15 runs in only 16 games against the Redbirds while Morgan ignited the offense with a .393 OBP. Hart, who has batted leadoff since Rickie Weeks went down with an injury, may be moved to the No. 5 spot to protect Fielder.
The St. Louis Cardinals couldn’t muster enough offense yesterday and face elimination in St. Louis today. Meanwhile, rookie Josh Collmenter pitched the Diamondbacks to a win over Milwaukee, allowing Arizona to live another day.
Philadelphia at St. Louis
Roy Oswalt, who made it clear in the past that he would like to pitch for St. Louis, will be on the mound in an effort to send the Phillies into the NLCS. The righthander spent much of the season nursing injuries, but is healthy now and will assume his position as the No. 4 starter in the best rotation in baseball. The Cardinals will send righty Edwin Jackson, whom they acquired from the White Sox in midseason, to the hill.
The Cardinals knocked Oswalt out of a start in June with four runs in the first two innings. That lineup included Colby Rasmus and Tony Cruz, not Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. A few weeks ago, Oswalt tossed seven shutout innings at the Cardinals as they were battling to overcome the Braves in the wild card race. That lineup featured the guys most likely to be in there tonight.
Jackson has been a little Jekyll and Hyde, but mostly Jekyll of late. The Redbirds won six of his last seven starts, although he factored in the decision just three times going 3-0. He represents the biggest x-factor of this series, having very little history against the Phillies hitters. The first four hitters in the lineup, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Hunter Pence and Ryan Howard have a combined 12 plate appearances against Jackson with just one hit. That’s not much of a sample size and typically favors the pitcher.
I certainly expect more runs than last night, and for the Cardinals to send the series back to Philadelphia for Game 5.
St. Louis and Philadelphia play the only non-elimination game today.
by Charlie Miller
Today is a day that Major League Baseball had in mind when it expanded the playoffs for what was to be 1994, but due to the strike, actually began in 1995. Four playoff games, three of which could be elimination games. All in one day.
It will be tough to match last Wednesday night for a four-game set that ranked as the best ever, but with three teams’ seasons on the line, today is must-see baseball.
Beginning today at 2:00 ET, Tampa Bay will attempt to stave off elimination at home against Texas. Then at 5:00 St. Louis hosts Philadelphia in the only non-do-or-die affair. At 7:30 the Yankees will be in Detroit trying to extend their season another few days and force a Game 5 back in New York. Milwaukee and Arizona begin at 8:30, but I suspect most of the nation will catch only the last few innings after the Yankees-Tigers tussle. The Diamondbacks will try desperately to avoid the embarrassment of being swept at the hands of the Brewers.
Philadelphia at St. Louis
Obviously the key to this series is giving up three runs in the first inning. Both winning teams have done just that so far. While it was not a surprise that the Phillies’ Roy Halladay retired 21 batters in a row after the hiccup in the first inning of Game 1, it is nothing less than a shock that the Cardinals’ bullpen hung up a zero after Chris Carpenter couldn’t get past the third inning of Game 2. So which will it be in Game 3?
Cole Hamels and Jaime Garcia will start today giving both managers reason to believe the three-run first innings are a thing of the past. Garcia has been at his best at home, and was stingy against Philadelphia this season. Facing a lineup without Chase Utley, Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino or Carlos Ruiz, Garcia stifled the Phillies at Busch Stadium back in May over eight innings, allowing just one unearned run. A few weeks ago, Garcia pitched seven strong innings at Philadelphia allowing a run in a St. Louis win in 11 innings.
Even though that was after the Phillies had clinched, most of the regulars played for Philadelphia. Ryan Howard and Ruiz appeared as pinch hitters.
Phillies’ starter Hamels has held St. Louis hitters in check throughout his career (.257 OBP), but has won just two of his five decisions. In 27 innings at the current Busch Stadium, Hamels has allowed just 19 hits and six walks in 27 innings while striking out 29.
However, his only start against the Cardinals this season came last week and resulted in a 5-0 St. Louis win. Allen Craig doubled and was chased home on Albert Pujols’ homer in the first inning. Could that be how the game starts tonight? Craig later homered off Hamels and reliever Joe Blanton.
With the starting pitching that the Phillies will continue to trot out every night, it’s difficult to see a scenario where the Cardinals win this series. The St. Louis bullpen will reveal its propensity to cough up leads before this five-game set is over. The Cardinals may force a Game 5, but the Phillies will move on to the NLCS.