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Breakups, Broken Hearts, and Baseball Contracts


Let me start by saying one thing: Watching the face of the 11 year old that wrote the following piece as he found out Albert Pujols stuck it to the Cardinals signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was the saddest. Thing. Ever.  The mix of emotions that ran across his face ranged from shock to pure contempt.  After he read the news, he simply walked to his desk, head hung low, put his head down and pulled his hood over his head.  He never spoke a single word.

I instantly understood where he was coming from.  Even though I am more than double his age, I too suffered devastation this off season when I found out that the Astros were leaving the National League.  I can only imagine the feeling inside of the young boy’s chest was the same as mine- an explosion of the heart muscle.

The following was written by Brendan “Bubba” Anderson.  He is an 11 year old, die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan.  Through the school year we have forged a bond through the highest baseball has to offer- His Cards and their World Series victory- as well as the lowest- My Astros and their franchise worst 106 losses.  After watching him struggle with coming to terms with what Albert did, I encouraged him to put his thoughts to paper.  These are his words.  And before you try to shrug this off as, “just a little kid who doesn’t understand baseball” I think you need to remember why it is you love baseball.



By: Brendan “Bubba” Anderson

A couple days ago some baseball franchises were trying to get Albert Pujols. Those teams were the Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, and St. Louis Cardinals.  The two teams that were most interested in Albert Pujols were the Marlins and Cardinals. Miami’s offer was $220 million over 10 years. St. Louis’s offer was over that offer and the Miami Marlins were already leaving the Pujols negotiating table.  From that point on it looked like the St. Louis Cardinals had Albert Pujols back. But…then the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim came in on the bidding and offered him $250 million over 10 years.  And a day after that offer came out, Albert Pujols went and signed with the Angels on Thursday morning.

Considering that I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan, it wasn’t a good day. I have always been a St. Louis Cardinals fan and I’ll always be a St. Louis Cardinals fan. But I’ll always be a Albert Pujols fan, too. Though I thought that he was going to stay with the Cardinals I guess I was wrong. I also thought he wasn’t in it for the money; guess I was wrong about that, too. I guess there’s nobody in baseball that isn’t in it for the money. I thought Albert Pujols was different.  I thought he was in it to play baseball, not to get paid. I thought baseball was supposed to be a sport- not a job. I thought baseball was for fun, and not about worrying to get paid 25 million a year. I believe that Albert Pujols will do well as an Angel; I just really wish he was still a Cardinal.

Top 50 Prospects: #35 – Carlos Martinez

#35 Carlos Martinez

St. Louis Cardinals

DOB: 9/21/1991

Previous Rank: N/R

ETA: 2014

The Cardinals have a very solid system, and starting pitching is probably where it shines the brightest.  As a 19-year-old across two stops including 10 starts in the FSL, Martinez finished the year with a sub-4.00 ERA and 98 strikeouts in only 84.2 innings pitched.  He also managed to hand out 44 free passes, but there is always reason to be optimistic about a 19-year-old with that kind of strikeout ability.

Year Age Tm Lg Lev W L ERA G GS CG IP BB SO
2010 18 Cardinals DOSL FRk 3 2 0.76 12 12 1 59.0 14 78
2011 19 2 Teams 2 Lgs A+-A 6 5 3.93 18 18 0 84.2 44 98
2011 19 Quad Cities MIDW A 3 2 2.33 8 8 0 38.2 14 50
2011 19 Palm Beach FLOR A+ 3 3 5.28 10 10 0 46.0 30 48
2 Seasons 9 7 2.63 30 30 1 143.2 58 176
Year Age Tm Lg Lev W L ERA IP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010 18 Cardinals DOSL FRk 3 2 0.76 59.0 0.712 4.3 0.2 2.1 11.9 5.57
2011 19 2 Teams 2 Lgs A+-A 6 5 3.93 84.2 1.417 8.1 0.3 4.7 10.4 2.23
2011 19 Quad Cities MIDW A 3 2 2.33 38.2 1.060 6.3 0.2 3.3 11.6 3.57
2011 19 Palm Beach FLOR A+ 3 3 5.28 46.0 1.717 9.6 0.4 5.9 9.4 1.60
2 Seasons 9 7 2.63 143.2 1.128 6.5 0.3 3.6 11.0 3.03

Martinez throws blazing hard, hitting triple digits on occasion and sitting in the mid- to high-90s.  He is only 6-foot and 165-pounds, but there actually might be an inch or two left in him if his Dominican birth certificate is accurate.  Martinez secondary stuff has a ways to go, but at times he flashes 60s with both his change and breaker.  The changeup has a little fade to it, and the breaking ball is the downer type with good pace and shape.  He slows his arm a lot at times with both offerings, and both flatten out when he does, but the Cardinals are magicians when it comes to young righties and their secondary stuff.

Considering that Martinez only will only need to fill the role of a third starter in St. Louis given the presence of Adam Wainwright already atop the rotation and Shelby Miller knocking at the Busch gates, the St. Louis pitching staff should be elite for much of the decade.  If his command can improve during the next couple of years, Martinez could find himself within the top-10 here at The Sombrero as early as 2013.

Top 50 Prospects: #43 – Zack Cox

#43 Zack Cox

St. Louis Cardinals

DOB: 5/9/1989

Previous Rank: N/R

ETA: 2013

Zack Cox had the best hit tool grading in the 2010 class, was arguably the best hitter in Arkansas history despite only staying there for two seasons, and was a massive steal for the Cardinals as the 25th pick overall.  In just his first full professional season, Cox reached Double-A and posted very respectable numbers with a slash line of .306/.363/.434 across two stops.

Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA
2010 21 Cardinals GULF Rk STL 4 17 15 0 6 1 0 1 0 0 1 3 .400
2011 22 2 Teams 2 Lgs AA-A+ STL 135 569 516 76 158 27 13 68 2 3 40 98 .306
2011 22 Palm Beach FLOR A+ STL 42 180 164 22 55 8 3 20 2 2 11 29 .335
2011 22 Springfield TL AA STL 93 389 352 54 103 19 10 48 0 1 29 69 .293
2 Seasons 139 586 531 76 164 28 13 69 2 3 41 101 .309
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/14/2011.
2010 21 Cardinals GULF Rk STL 4 17 15 0 1 .400 .471 .467 .937 7
2011 22 2 Teams 2 Lgs AA-A+ STL 135 569 516 13 68 .306 .363 .434 .797 224
2011 22 Palm Beach FLOR A+ STL 42 180 164 3 20 .335 .380 .439 .819 72
2011 22 Springfield TL AA STL 93 389 352 10 48 .293 .355 .432 .787 152
2 Seasons 139 586 531 13 69 .309 .366 .435 .801 231
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/14/2011.
Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff G Ch PO A E DP Fld% RF/G
2010 21 Cardinals GULF Rk STL 3B 3 6 0 6 0 0 1.000 2.00
2011 22 2 Teams 2 Lgs AA-A+ STL 3B 122 297 50 223 24 18 .919 2.24
2011 22 2 Teams 2 Lgs A+-AA STL DH 11 0.00
2011 22 Palm Beach FLOR A+ STL 3B 35 69 14 51 4 2 .942 1.86
2011 22 Palm Beach FLOR A+ STL DH 7 0.00
2011 22 Springfield TL AA STL 3B 87 228 36 172 20 16 .912 2.39
2011 22 Springfield TL AA STL DH 4 0.00
2 Seasons 136 303 50 229 24 18 .921 2.05
3B (2 seasons) 3B 125 303 50 229 24 18 .921 2.23
DH (1 season) DH 11 0.00
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 11/14/2011.

He really has little to prove in the Texas League and should open the year in Triple-A.  Realistically, though, he might be forced to repeat the level if for no other reason than to slow his development down somewhat considering that David Freese seems firmly entrenched at third in St. Louis for a few years.  Cox is a true 70-grade hitter who hits to all parts of the yard, has tremendous balance, bat track, and timing as well as exceptional judgment of both the strike zone and the hitting zone..  His lower half is virtually always fully loaded and on time.  Cox practically never breaks down in his front half but somehow is never really behind anything either.

His pitch selection and recognition is arguably the best in the Minors today, and most balls he squares up have outstanding carry to them.  The one knock, and it’s a small one, is that Cox has a tendency to stay so inside of pitches, particularly on the inner half, that he fails to fully clear and drive long to the pull side.  Personally, if he never corrects this, I still see an all-star bat if he can stay at third.  His glove and speed are far behind his hit tool as well as his power and arm tools, which both grade as 55-60.  He booted 20 grounders in under 90 games in the Texas League and has a long way to go as far as footwork goes, but there is enough to like about his fielding to let him stick at the hot corner in the short term.  St. Louis fans probably don’t want to hear this, but Zach Cox could make Albert Pujols dispensable in some ways.

MUST READ: Three Friends Last Minute Trip to the World Series

If you want to read one of the best and most entertaining posts you’ll read all year, head over to Diamond Hoggers for The Ups and Downs of an Epic, Last Minute Trip to Game Seven of the World Series. (Yes, it’s absolutely deserving of the bold font.) Franco, who runs Next Level Ballplayer and made a guest post here on the Sombrero just before the start of the 2011 season, tells the fantastic story of he and two other friends’ adventure from Nashville to St. Louis with the hope of catching Game Seven in the flesh.  Even though it’s long, reading it in its entirety is worth every damn minute.

David Freese’s swing and pitch recognition

This morning I had a conversation with one of the best hitters I’ve played with, as well as one of the most knowledgeable hitters I know, about David Freese’s swing and postseason success.  My question to him was whether Freese’s ability to drive through the ball so well to both center and right field stemmed from his ability to hit off of such a firm front side — as illustrated in the picture above.

He responded by saying that was definitely part of it.  However, he also noted that Freese never gets the barrel around the ball which in turn allows him to always keep his hands inside the pitch.  But what he mentioned next is what really got my wheels spinning.  He said that the only way you can be successful doing that is by recognizing the pitch, something that Freese did visibly well all October.

Here is Freese’s ‘Swing Pitch Types’ chart for all of October:

The above graphic depicts his ability to recognize and attack three different types of fastballs within the strike zone.  Furthermore, it shows that rarely swung at fastballs outside of the zone.  Rather, the pitches he chased out of the zone were low changeups and curves, and he did that sparingly.

To further my argument on Freese’s pitch recognition, here is his October ‘Take Pitch Types’ chart:

Just as he showed a propensity to attack fastballs within the strike zone, Freese’s discipline was also exemplified by his ability to resist non-strike fastballs, especially inside ones. This brings me to the final part of that conversation.  He stated that because Freese is so disciplined, when pitchers try to bust him inside (like they were trying do during the World Series), he does not deviate from his approach — which, as any hitter knows, is incredibly tough to do.