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Around the game: Guillen, Boston/New York, Brandon Phillips

Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012, at 5:42 PM

I know typically I focus on Cardinals news and analysis, but occasionally something happens in the baseball world that deserves mentioning. It's been a big news week in baseball so I thought I'd share my thoughts.

1.Ozzie Guillen suspended for five games -- The spirited manager of the Florida Marlins is no stranger to drama. Whether he's screaming and chunking bases or saying things that lead one to question his level of intelligence, he's always involved in something. In case you haven't heard, in an interview late last week Guillen was asked his feelings on Fidel Castro. His response? "I love Fidel Castro." Now, in Chicago, it's possible no one would have even paid attention. In Miami, however, on a team with Cuban defectors living in a community filled with Cuban defectors, praising the dictator that has affected their lives is not a smart thing to do. While he did say in Tuesday's press conference that he believes something was "lost in translation," he did own up to the mistake and urged fans to continue supporting the team despite his actions. Personally, I don't know that this fiasco is over for Guillen just yet. It's likely that there will be repercussions throughout the year as Cuban fans protest games, but I don't expect any further personal punishment. While Guillen can be a bit crazy, I always enjoy wondering what will come out of his mouth next. Think of him as the Happy Gilmore of baseball -- no one takes him very serious, but when you're not paying attention his team will turn up the heat.
2.Boston and New York get off to slow starts -- While they've now pulled off a win, the slow start of two of baseball's most storied teams began a virtual feeding frenzy for fans. Two games into the season, Yankees fans were already calling for Girardi's head and calling the season a dud. Slow down people. It's far too early to be firing closers and making trades for players you likely don't even need. The baseball season is a long one -- 162 games to be exact. Because teams have played 4-6 is no reason to be nervous yet. I heard some fans in California are already yelling about Albert Pujols because hasn't set the world afire yet. I know everyone wants to see wins right out the door, but that's not always the way things always happen. The Cardinals got off to a rough start in 2011 and we all saw how that worked out. Sometimes its easy to take for granted what a friendly baseball town St. Louis really is. Now with what I said about the Yankees, I should also point out that being hot in early April doesn't necessarily translate into championships. Baseball is a test of endurance over six months. Of course, winning is better than the alternative but sometimes it's not about the team that wins the most. Sometimes it's about the team that wins last, which in 2012, turned out to be the St. Louis Cardinals.
3.Brandon Phillips signs a six-year deal -- One of the Cardinals arch nemesis signed a six-year/$72.5 million extension this week. I'm not questioning that Phillips is worth the money, because he is. My only question is about the future of the Cincinnati Reds. The team is throwing around an awful lot of money of hope. They hope for a television contract like other teams are seeing. They hope for a run deep into the playoffs that will increase attendance. In order to stay competitive I understand the team wanting to hang on to their star players and bring in the guys they need to get the job done, however, you have to live within your means and I just don't think the Reds are going to be able to do that. I think they can function for now, but as other acquisitions are needed, I doubt the team's ability to stay within their financial boundaries and field a competitive team in the long-term. Of course, Walt Jocketty got a lot of things done in St. Louis that no one else could have done either, so who knows.
4.Detroit Tigers set the world on fire -- The Tigers have really come on strong this season. As I said earlier, we're only a few games into things here, but this team has the potential to be the real deal. Their rotation, often under-appreciated, may very well weather Fister's injury fine. Regardless of how they are playing two months from now, this team will be a serious threat to whoever they face.


To submit a question for the Balls & Strikes Mailbag, either e-mail cnoles@dailystatesman.com , call (573)624-4545 or fill out the form at dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynoles/

Follow him on Twitter @coreynoles

Before I dive into today's column, I wanted to remind everyone to dive into this week's contest for a free BluRay/DVD combo pack of Baseball's Greatest Games featuring Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. Just click on this link to read more and find out how to enter.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

I'm a big fan of supporting people that voice their opinions.

Ozzie Guillen should not be penalized for sharing his opinion.

Some of my critics argue I am not entitled to controversial opinions. Some of the so-called experts even believe a journalist should never post a comment on a sports forum. I strongly disagree.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Wed, Apr 11, 2012, at 12:44 AM

I like the Detroit Tigers to represent the American League in the World Series.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Wed, Apr 11, 2012, at 12:45 AM

Considering Guillen represents something that is bigger than him, free does not apply here. He gave an awful face to the Marlins organization and alienated the teams entire fan base. The stadium is located in the middle of Little Havana and they will need those Cuban-Americans to sustain the team. Their is a difference in supporting opinions when you are a shmoe and when you alienate your teams entire fan base. I heard the best description of Castro by Dan Lebatard who described Castro as the Cuban version of Hitler.

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Wed, Apr 11, 2012, at 1:56 AM

Exzalmanian, I'm in agreeance with you. Free speech is granted so that a person can say whatever they believe without fear of repercussions from the government. However, when you work for a private business like the Marlins, the owners have every right to punish someone based off of what they say. It was just a plain dumb comment by Ozzie that is very hurtful to lots of the fans who make up the Marlins base. If the owner thought it warranted being let go, I don't think Ozzie would have complained. If Jeff Loria didn't think it was enough to suspend (not that I agree, and we know that isn't what happened), I would have understood that as well. This is purely an issue that is up to the owner and I think both he and Ozzie handled the aftermath well. It was a really dumb, insensitive comment and Ozzie, Loria, and the fans have all handled it pretty well.

Speaking of dumb things, I have no idea what the Reds are doing with just throwing around huge contracts. They've now thrown almost $300 million into the pot to keep Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips who isn't as much of a spring chicken as he acts like he is. I feel like they are mortgaging their future a bit for the draw of "star power" as has been said (which has drawn a whopping 17,000 or so the last two nights). The Reds have to be expecting a large amount of tv money because they aren't going to be in the 3,000,000 fan attendance club. I'd put them closer to 2,000,000. They aren't a huge market though. I don't see how they maneuver this unless they are trying to do what the Brewers have a couple times now and go all in to swing a big trade this year or next year and go for a World Series now. Their pitching isn't stellar outside of Cueto, Chapman, Latos, and a couple others. Their batting outside of Cozart, Phillips, Bruce, and Votto isn't a great lineup either. And their farm system isn't anything special, ranked 19th by Keith Law. Again, I just don't see them competing long term with all this money already tied up personally. Best case secenario in my mind is they swing a big trade to get a lockdown pitcher on loan before free agency (see Brewers with Sabathia) and go all out for a World Series this year or next depending on how vulnerable the division is coming up on the trade deadline.

-- Posted by sideline starter on Wed, Apr 11, 2012, at 7:19 AM

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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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