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Around the Game: Lohse, Moyer, Kemp and more

Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2012, at 8:59 AM

Before I dive into today's column, I wanted to remind everyone to dive into this week's contest for one of TWO free copies of A+E Networks Home Entertainment/MLB Productions DVD "St. Louis Cardinals 2011 World Series Champions" highlight film. If you know which past Cardinals pitcher has two World Series home runs under his belt then make sure to answer. Entries will be accepted until Thursday, April 19 at noon. Just click on this link to read more and find out how to enter.

It's been a busy week in baseball with some players playing records for good reasons, and others, well, not so good.

Kyle Lohse - While he's not breaking records, Lohse is certainly showing his true capabilities this year. Short of a late inning Daniel Descalso error, Lohse would have began the season 3-0. Those things happen - that's baseball. His command and control of the strike zone, as well as his continued development of secondary pitches has been quite impressive to date. I really don't think he's a fluke and, at least for the time being, he's the ace.

Moyer gets win - My hat's off to Jamie Moyer. Last night he entered the record books as the oldest major leaguer to ever record a win. It's refreshing to see a man of his age hang in there with the kids. He lost his first two outings, but last night against the Padres he took care of his business. He threw only 87 pitches in seven innings and never hit 80 miles per hour, but still managed to hold the Padres to two unearned runs on six hits. Not too shabby for a young guy, let alone a 49-year-old starter. Keep it up.

Matt Kemp- There's not a lot I need to say about the guy who likely should have been the 2011 MVP. If he stays on a tear like he is right now, he'll be a shoe-in for this year's award. With six homeruns in 16 RBIs in only 11 games, Kemp is reminding everyone what a great all around player he is. He's a great fielder, can hit for power and slap the ball anywhere in the field. He can even run. Right now he's batting .465/.500/.977. Wow. Kemp is 20 for 43 on the season and holds a lot of responsibility for the Dodgers 9-2 start. Well, him and the giant cloud lifted off of their shoulders since McCourt finally sold the team. Magic Johnson will be good for the Dodgers. While everyone else seems to think the Dodgers are a fluke and will finish third in the NL West, I don't agree at all.

Josh Hamilton - Hamilton is on a tear very similar to Kemp. With five homers and 11 RBIs he's batting .413 with no signs of slowing down. This is a guy who has faced every type of adversity you can imagine: Substance abuse, alcoholism, injury after injury, etc. Don't let that fool you. Hamilton played through the World Series in 2011 with torn abdominal muscles and more ailments than anyone I've ever seen. If he's on the field, regardless of how he feels or what is going on in his personal life, he gives his all. That's exactly what he's doing this year both offensively and defensively. He's definitely a player to watch closely as he enters his walk year in Texas.

Pujols without a homer - Albert Pujols has now been 11 games without a homerun. Stop the presses! Sure he's struggling early, but before long he'll crank it up and do exactly what he's known for. While it's difficult to adjust to new pitching in a new league, I think its more than that. I still believe he is on a decline in his career, no matter how slight it may be. He's still a great baseball player, but the reigns for BEST player I'm officially handing over to Matt Kemp. He's earned them. While this is Pujols' slowest start and some bad baserunning mistakes have cost the Angels dearly already, in the end, he'll earn the $12 million he'll make in 2012 (remember the contract is very backloaded). My guess is that if in 10 days he's still hitting poorly, they'll start talking about underlying health issues or "playing through pain." With that being said, he'll still most likely finish the season with 25+ homeruns and 90-105 RBIs.

Fielder and Cabrera do what they do - The 8-3 Detroit Tigers are getting what they paid for in Prince Fielder. The gruesome twosome that he and Miguel Cabrera makes is helping win games and has to be a nightmare for opposing pitchers. As the season goes, I still think the two will continue to improve. Their numbers aren't currently what they will be, but as the continue to gel with one another the rest of the American League needs to be ready because this team has the ability to be very, very dangerous as they showed Tuesday night with back-to-back RBI hits.


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

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Two things I heard today and yesterday, both regarding the Mets. For some strange reason they are honoring Chipper Jones. And I didn't know they are still paying Bobby Bo 1 million a year for the next ten years.

-- Posted by gregb on Wed, Apr 18, 2012, at 7:56 PM
Corey Noles
The Chipper thing is interesting. I hadn't heard that, but it's cool. I'm hoping to catch the Braves when they're here to see Chipper one last time. The Bobby Bo thing I learned about shortly after the Albert deal and hearing of his "personal services" contract. Also, the Bobby Bonilla deal is apparently for 25 years I just read. When you hear them talk about "deferred money" in a contract, this is what they mean and apparently this is more common than I realized. Manny Ramirez is still scheduled to receive $26 million from the Boston Red Sox. Andruw Jones, now two teams removed from his tenure in L.A., is owed $11 million. Marquis Grissom, who last played for the Dodgers almost a decade ago, is owed $2.7 million.

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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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