Matt Stairs fulfilled a long-standing dream of mine last night. I've always wanted a player, when asked about his clutch pinch hit homer—about his strategy, his plate coverage, his pitch selection—to say, "Well, Howard, I mainly just swing as hard as I can." (video h.t.: Baseball Primer.)
It's not as if it takes a lot of scouting to see that Matt Stairs takes, and has always taken, a swing that seems to assume the baseball is multi-colored, horse-shaped, and filled with candy, but how often does a piayer just come right out and say it? Hopefully this honesty will radiate outward from Stairs in time to produce some cathartic Winter Meetings confessional articles. DUNCAN: "I really just didn't like his stupid brim, and his stupid, stupid face"; MARQUIS: "Yeah, it's not really even a sinker"; ISRINGHAUSEN: "Sometimes I'm not even sure my right arm's attached until I start warming up."
Odds and ends today; some unexpected classwork cut into my prep time.
- Albert Pujols is so good at baseball that he can transform the nature of his elbow injury at will. Is this surgery instead of the inevitable Tommy John? Is it in addition to? Does it stave it off for some indeterminate amount of time? I don't want to besmirch Doc Paletta's reputation too badly, since I'm sure we don't know all there is to know about the Carp and Mulder situations, but it's safe to say that I would feel a little better about this if it were some other doctor telling me the mang would be—gulp—ready in time for Spring Training. Pretty soon everyone's two favorite Dan and Al memes, "He'll be ready for Spring Training" and "He's like trading for a frontline player at the deadline", will have to be merged into one ur-phrase.
- Rocco Baldelli? Rocco Baldelli! Back when it seemed like the Cardinals wouldn't have a surplus of outfielders going into 2009, back when he was most famous for an overly ambitious Joe DiMaggio comparison from the Devil Rays and not a mitochondrial disease, the Woonsocket Rocket was my default answer when the Cardinals found themselves, by my estimation, a hitter short. Baldelli not just coming back but homering in a crucial playoff game—this is the point at which the Rays reach inspiring-story overload.
- Merry CRasmus has a well-researched fanpost about rotation construction, if yesterday's post was simply not enough for you on the subject. I probably would have restricted the search to the actual pitchers who get long term deals (where you still have a Jason Schmidt contract for every Mike Mussina contract), but it's a discussion starter. For the Cardinals' sake, if nothing else, I hope the "bottom-up" method of rotation construction is a sound one; the Cardinals have developed a gaggle of starting prospects in recent years, with more on the way, but they all seem predestined from draft day to the bottom half of the rotation.
- Speaking of discussion, in case you missed it we have a new hot stove open thread on the sidebar. I love the Hot Stove League, and I look forward to it every year, but I always forget about the oppressive lull that descends over the golfing teams until the end of the World Series. It'll be time to refresh Bernie's Press Box every ten minutes soon enough; in the meantime it's all we can do to hunker down and think thoughts of Brandon Wood, Rafael Furcal, or your number two starter of choice.