Good morning from Los Angeles. Team P-D is here on the left coast to cover Wednesday's wild-card game. Headed to Dodger Stadium later this afternoon for the Cardinals and Dodgers workouts there. But we've got two solid hours to chat about the big game, and whatever else is on your mind. Thanks as always for stopping by. Let's roll.
Albert Pujols. Cody Bellinger. Matt Beaty. Those are the most likely options for the Dodgers to replace the injured Max Muncy. I know STL fans would have a shiver go up their spines if it's Pujols, but he's not very good against right-handed pitching. Bellinger has been Matt-Carpenter-like this year but it wouldn't be very surprising if he shakes that off for some playoff magic, and he's a southpaw swinger. So is Beaty. He's been hot lately, and that would keep Pujols on the bench as a pinch-hitter against a Cardinals lefty reliever if the game gets to that point. We'll see if Roberts tips his hand today.
Edmundo Sosa will be starting Wednesday, not Paul DeJong, as long as he's good to go with the arm and signs suggest that is the case. Cards dancing with the date that brought them, and DeJong did not turn his late and maybe last chance into a surge that made the decision hard. I'll disagree with the body language part. He's frustrated, sure, but I don't think think he's checked out or anything. Just having a very bad season, one that very well could require a fresh start elsewhere. Upgrading shortstop would be wise for Cards this offseason now that their outfield is set and there are going to be some really good shortstops -- Seager -- available.
Separate issues. There was a lot of noise yesterday about what are relatively minor proceedings. We reported when the denial of the appeal for a venue change came down that there was another Hail Mary option and not to be surprised if the Rams/NFL tried it. They're doing that. The standoff about the financial information is going to continue until every way of trying to stop it is exhausted. The fine will continue to tick up, and will be owed at the end if the Rams/NFL don't find a way out of it. There's another attempt the NFL/Rams are trying worth mentioning, too. They're trying to get Bob Blitz off the case so they can call him as a witness. It doesn't make much sense why they waited this long to try that, and the delay in asking is going to hurt them there. Looks mostly like another stall tactic.
I was eating dinner at a place near the hotel in Pasadena and the only people there watching the game were cheering for the Raiders. Doesn't seem to be much of a strong Chargers base here in LA. Shocker. LA is way more of a Raiders town. The NFL really bungled the whole thing, but hey, money!
The answer changes based on who is asked. Albert has made comments that seem to suggest this is payoff to his process. I'm not sure it's so simple. I don't think this would have happened if Shildt had not intervened and advocated for some smarter situational hitting. Clearly something blended right, finally, and maybe that's the answer: a blend of Albert's power-up approach with an acknowledgement that there are times to take other things into consideration, too. Whatever is said now will take a back seat to what is done. Let's see what happens to Albert after the season. You can't argue some of the guys he's hired are working wonders with minor league hitters. I'm curious to see if the Cardinals add a former major league player to the hitting staff, a move that has been discussed quite a bit to provide some been-there-done-that to the staff. Does Albert shift gears into more of a front office role? Jobel Jiminez should be mentioned. A lot of the guys really value his insight and help. There is an argument that says it's good to have some different kinds of teachers who generally agree on the same philosophy. One thing we have not heard is the manager and players specifically pointing to Albert as the reason this breakthrough happened. I don't overlook that. What comes after the season will tell us more about if the blend was the answer, or a shifting away from his teaching was the answer.
Today? Chat. Team workouts. Column. Trying to get some sight-seeing walks and a bookstore or two in between the work. I had the best breakfast burrito of my life this morning. That was a real treat. Exciting stuff, I know.
I can't speak for Benjamin, but my point of the Harper columns was attempting to point out to anyone reading that the guy would have been a smash success in St. Louis. I still believe that. He's going to be a top-three NL MVP vote getter this year and may win the thing. I don't have to rehash the columns because it's water beneath the bridge now but when you think a guy is an obvious fit, you should write it as such. BH seems to feel that way about Seager. And I agree it makes a lot of sense -- except for the contract it's going to take to get him. The Cardinals can find the money if they want him. (They can always find the money.) But the 10-year-plus contracts, they are not a big fan of and I'm with you, I'm not sure that changes for Seager. Harper, to me, was the one to swing away on because he was bigger than a left-handed middle order. He is an exciting, face-of-baseball star who would have been an instant ticket seller, instant jersey seller, instant show. To the Cardinals credit they had a lot more faith in Tyler O'Neill than I did, and they look very smart for that this season. He put up MVP-like production at a bargain price, and the outfield seems set for the long haul now as long as he stays healthy. But I still think Harper would have been a big deal here. And he would be in the playoffs for all to see, unlike falling short in Philadelphia. The outfield of O'Neill, Bader and Carlson has rocked since all three started playing together. The outfield of O'Neill, Carlson and Harper would be pretty good, too. But the water is under the bridge and the Cardinals' outfield is in good to great shape. Hard to complain.
Not guaranteed to see it. He's very bad against right-handed pitching. He's hitting .180/.233/.266 against righties this season compared to .294/.336/.603 against lefties. He's only one-for-10 with a single and a strikeout against Wainwright in their career meetings. Roberts may go in a different direction. Hopefully we will find out more today.
I don't agree with the idea of a pregame script for Wainwright. Just see how he's pitching, and how the Dodgers' at-bats look against him. He's earned that. You don't let him lose the game or anything, but you give him a fair chance to win it, like he has 10 of his last 11.
They should be an appealing destination for free-agent starters who want to win and want to pitch in front of baseball's best defense. They should also be appealing, if they want to be, to starters who could be looking for prove-it contracts thanks to the success guys like Wainwright and Lester and Happ have had here. That can be a recruiting tool. Oh, and Scherzer is a free agent. Perhaps you've heard of him. He's pretty good.
I like the importance of the divisions and don't want to see that watered down. I would make the wild-card situation a three-game series instead of a one-game winner take all. That's it.