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Balls & Strikes Mailbag: NL Central, Pujols, trade questionsPosted Friday, April 27, 2012, at 2:56 PM
I received a handful of questions in again for this week's installment of Balls & Strikes, so I thought I'd get these out before I get behind again.
Corey, why do you think Albert Pujols is having such a hard time in Los Angeles? Is it just pressure of a big contract? A continued drop in his abilities?
Steve, I think it's a combination of those and several other factors. Jon Heyman of cbssports had a great piece on this Thursday morning. He cited the pressure of a big contract and new clubhouse for a superstar, but he had another very interesting angle. He suggested that maybe Pujols had underestimated his new home field. I have no doubt there is some truth to that. The adjustments to a new league and different pitching have also no doubt affected him. He will jump back, though. With that being said, I don't expect career numbers from him in 2012. Of course, a quick glance at his numbers has showed his slow decline over three seasons prior to this one. A further decrease this year would only show that this is the direction he is going. Don't get me wrong, right now he is at his career worst. He'll still have a respectable, likely very impressive 2012, but there's no way it's happening for 10 years. Honestly, I wish him the best, but I'm also realistic.
Do you think the Cardinals have the staying power to win the NL Central this year and possibly repeat last season?
Repeat trips to the World Series aren't just difficult, their next to impossible. It does happen, yes, but with 30 teams and a season centered so much on endurance, it is extremely difficult to repeat. While Texas hasn't won a World Series, their back to back trips show what a strong, resilient team they are. The way they started 2012, they certainly have their sights set on it. The same can be said for St. Louis. It's too early to be making World Series predictions, but it's definitely possible. After 2011, I believe anything is possible until it's proven otherwise.
Corey, I know it's early, but do you think the Cardinals will make any moves this year whether for starting pitching or another solid middle infielder?
Like you said, it's very early. I really don't expect any major shocker moves at the trade deadline, but a lot can change between now and then. If the bullpen falls apart or if another starter goes down I think they would sooner look outside than rush some of the young talent in the farm system. If there are needs that can be addressed internally, I would fully expect that. I wouldn't rule out bringing in an extra bullpen arm or bench player around that time, but if things stay the way they are now, then that's all I would expect. Ask me again in June. Thanks for reading.
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Don't forget to dive into this week's contest to win a copy of A+E Networks Home Entertainment/MLB Productions "BASEBALL'S GREATEST GAMES: 2011 WORLD SERIES GAME 6 Bluray/DVD Combo Pack." If you know which past Cardinals player had the most career intentional walks prior to 2008 then enter before Thursday, April 26 at noon. Just click on this link to read more and find out how to enter.
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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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