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Mailbag: Taveras, Pujols, sidearm pitchers

Posted Saturday, May 12, 2012, at 6:45 PM

It's the end of the week again so here it's time for another mailbag column. I received some really interesting questions this week.

What are the chances Carlos Beltran outhits Albert Pujols, the man he replaced, in 2012?

Jeff W.

Delta, Mo.

If what we have seen so far is any indication, I would say highly likely. I still believe Pujols will end up with impressive numbers, but the later he struggles the harder that will be. Beltran, on the other hand, is putting up career-best type numbers and continues to be an asset. He hit 22 homeruns in all of 2011. In 2012, so far he is on pace to hit in excess of 50. Obviously he won't keep up that pace, but at this rate I would be surprised if he couldn't hit 30, and that is a plateau I'm afraid Pujols may struggle to reach at this point. In 2011, Beltran batted .300 with 84 RBIs and an OBP of .910. As of May 10, 2012, he is hitting .284 with 27 RBIS (already more than a third of his 2011 total) and an OBS of .959. Not too bad for a "replacement." At the bare minimum, and I'm just making a projection, I expect Beltran to match last years' numbers if he remains healthy. If that happens, he may very well surpass Pujols for 2012.

Who is this Oscar Taveras kid? It looks like he's having one heck of a season for AA-Springfield.

Terry M.

Sikeston, Mo.

He most certainly is. I ranked Taveras at number seven in my postseason projections and he's making me wish I had put him at number three. Baseball America rated him at 74 before the season. Next year they will have him much higher (like in the 20 or below range). At 19, Taveras made the move to AA straight out of spring training this year and, frankly, is outplaying the rest of the Texas League. In 30 games, Taveras has nine homeruns, 30 RBIs, 10 doubles, a .331 batting average, .678 slugging percentage and an OBP of 1.056. WOW. If he stays at this level very long, he will wind up in Memphis shortly after his 20th birthday (June 19). For the Cardinals to move a kid through that fast is unheard of, but with success like that you have no choice. At this rate, he could be in St. Louis next season instead of his 2014 projection. They have insisted they don't want to rush him, however, because they have had bad luck in the past with rushing young players (see, Ankiel, Rick).

Corey, Wednesday night a sidearm pitcher for the Diamondbacks absolutely shut the Cardinals down for an inning. If those guys are so successful, why do we not see more of them in baseball?

Randy G.

Rolla, Mo.

You are exactly right, Brad Ziegler and his bizarre sidearm delivery quieted the Cardinals bats quickly Wednesday night. His approach is unorthodox, but it's worked for him so far. When I watch those guys throw, I always wonder why no one ever taught them the normal way to throw a ball? The answer is simple, because for a handful of guys, it just works. The ball floats around on its way to the plate like a knuckleball that isn't quite sure where it wants to land. Sidearm pitchers do have drawbacks, though, and this will explain why you see so few of them. The biggest drawback is control. Sidearm pitchers often struggle with control and, therefore struggle more in the field than other players. Some argue that they are more prone to injury, but that is debateable. The approach puts more strain on their shoulder than a traditional pitcher, but overhanders have the same issue with elbows. The main reason however, is because each person's arm travels a natural path and most people aren't "natural" sidearm pitchers. There's a lot I don't know on this subject, but this has always been my understanding. The one thing I know for sure is that I hate watching the Cardinals face one of them...ewww.

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The contest question for this week is: In honor of LaRussa's number being retired, how many games did LaRussa win as a major league manager? This includes the Cardinals, Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics - not just the Cardinals.

One randomly selected winner of all correct entries will receive a copy of the A+E Networks Home Entertainment/MLB Productions St. Louis Cardinals 2011 World Series Champions Collectors Edition DVD SET. This thing is huge and is complete with eight disks including all seven games of the 2011 World Series in its entirety as well as a bonus disk with footage surrounding the series it self. It is a combined 800 minutes long and originally sold for $99.99. The price has since dropped to $56.99, but you have a shot to get it here for nothing. This is definitely a must have.

Enter before next Thursday, May 17, 2012 at noon to be eligible.

Answers may be submitted as comments on this specific blog post, via the mailbag forum on the blog at dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynoles , via email to cnoles@dailystatesman.com as well as by stopping in The Daily Statesman office at 133 S. Walnut in Dexter. Make sure to include your name, address, telephone # and email address. Make sure I know a reliable way to contact you. If I don't receive a response within 24 hours after I attempt to contact you, I will have to draw another winner.

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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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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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