We’ve all seen plenty of head-scratchers from Jerry Manuel this season, and many of his major strategical blunders have been chronicled and well documented on this site, but here’s something that might make you feel more appreciative of the Mets man in the hot seat.
The Cardinals have been struggling to score runs this season and until last night’s win, they have spent most of the season looking up at the first place Reds who have played surprisingly well this year.
We’ve all heard the word chemistry thrown around a lot this season, but I’ve always believed that winning breeds chemistry and that losing will lead to a lack of it. Did the Reds, who made few changes this offseason suddenly get good chemistry, and have the Cardinals whose biggest move was re-signing Matt Holliday suddenly lose the clubhouse magic?
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reports on what could be a developing rift between Cardinals slugger and MVP Albert Pujols and longtime manager Tony LaRussa, both of whom are locks for the Hall of Fame.
As the story goes, La Russa signaled for Ryan Ludwick, who was on first base, to steal second with two outs in the eighth inning. Albert Pujols, who was moved out of the third spot a few days earlier for the first time in over five years, was at the plate and batting cleanup. Unfortunately for Prince Albert, Ludwick was gunned down to end the inning.
A very irate Pujols walked back to the dugout flipped his bat, then his helmet, and then smacked two trays of gum from a bench against the Cardinals dugout wall.
La Russa then sneers at Pujols and yells “that’s enough.”
Pujols barks right back and, according to eyewitnesses, the exchange escalated with La Russa telling Pujols at one point, “I (expletive) know how to manage.”
According to Strauss, the outburst was the second involving Pujols in as many days.
The reigning National League MVP is eligible for free agency after the 2011 season, and moments like these will not exactly move him toward signing an extension any time soon. He is expected to demand $30 million dollars a year, and the Cardinals signed Matt Holliday mostly as a backup plan in case Pujols decides to bolt.
Getting back to La Russa though, what in the world was he thinking by letting Ludwick attempt a steal with his team’s best hitter at the plate?
Even if Ludwick had not been caught stealing, it would have opened up first base to walk Pujols, thus taking the bat out of his hands.
If Jerry Manuel ever did anything that stupid, there would be hell to pay. But for some reason whenever La Russa makes moves like this it’s looked upon as good old-fashioned aggressive managing or thinking out of the box. Umm, whatever…
I don’t know what Pujols said after La Russa’s remark, but I hope it went something like this,
“I (expletive) know how to drive in runs” or “I (expletive) know how to make you gone with the snap of my finger”.
Oh and by the way, I have never been convinced that batting the pitcher number eight is supposed to be some stroke of genius either.