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Balls & Strikes Mailbag: NL Central, Pujols, trade questions

Posted 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 L.

Advance, Mo.

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.


Hey Corey,

Do you think the Cardinals have the staying power to win the NL Central this year and possibly repeat last season?

Tyler J.

Ellsinore, Mo.

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?

Christopher M.

Caruthersville, Mo.

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.


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

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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It's tough for me to take the "new league" explanation with Albert because Prince Fielder is reacting just fine to it. Albert has been slow in April the last couple years. Not this slow but I don't see him sustaining levels nearly this bad over the rest of the season. Batting 280-300 somewhere and getting 30 HRs and around 100 RBIs is still not out of the question at all.

For the question about winning the Central and repeating, I think the Cards and us fans should just focus on winning the Central and making the playoffs again. As always, once the postseason starts, anyone could win. The goal needs to just be getting there.

-- Posted by sideline starter on Sun, Apr 29, 2012, at 11:53 PM

I like that below the Mendoza line hitting that Komatsu is displaying too.

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Fri, Apr 27, 2012, at 9:40 PM

I personally like Komatsu and think that he is going to be a descent player in the Major Leagues. I especially think that he fits the Cardinals new running game.

As far as the first question I only have one for you Corey

Albert who?

-- Posted by redbirdfan74 on Fri, Apr 27, 2012, at 9:04 PM

If any moves the Cards make I could see them giving Komatsu back to the Nats. I get baffled why teams go after these Rule 5 draft picks, especially a team like the Cardinals who just won the World Series. I know Chambers is not playing well at Memphis this year, but at least he proved he could get clutch hits in very critical situations down the stretch runs.

-- Posted by exzalmanian on Fri, Apr 27, 2012, at 3:37 PM

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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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