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Albert Pujols Personifies a Team Leader

There was major news over the weekend in St. Louis when it was reported that center fielder Colby Rasmus had requested a trade earlier in the year. Rasmus has been unhappy with his role in the organization for a few years now and wants to go somewhere he can play consistently.

When he was told about the trade request, Albert Pujols did not respond politely. In fact, the St. Louis first baseman and eventual Hall of Famer spoke sternly and more passionately about his team than almost any player I’ve ever heard. Even though it’s old news, you have to see Albert’s quotes in case you missed it. Here’s what he said:

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Ryan Roberts Lived in Team’s Clubhouse During Minor League Stint

Diamondbacks utility man Ryan Roberts is knows for a few things: his versatility as a player and his tattoos. Now he’ll be known for something else.

As I found out through Big League Stew, Roberts actually spent part of the year living in the Reno Aces’ clubhouse during his minor league stint with the Triple-A team this year. Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic has all the interesting details on the story.

The gist of the story is that Roberts leased a place in Phoenix because he expected to make the Diamondbacks’ 25-man roster. He didn’t and was sent to Triple-A Reno. Initially he had a place in Reno with his daughter and wife, but when he was called up to Arizona in May, his family came with him and they decided to remain there when he was demoted a few weeks later.

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Scout: Lincecum Will End Up in Bullpen

Few pitchers have enjoyed a better start to a career than Tim Lincecum. The 26-year-old won the Cy Young Award in his first two full seasons in the bigs, leading the league in strikeouts both years. 2010 however has been an entirely different story.

Lincecum lost all five of his starts in August, posting an ugly 7.82 ERA during the month to forget. For the first time in his career, he lost three starts in a row. People speculated about the reasons for Lincecum’s poor performance. Some attributed the struggles to having a new catcher, a drop in velocity, or poor conditioning — which is what manager Bruce Bochy said.

Whatever the reason, many people are down on the former Cy Young winner. In a good, wide-ranging notes column, Ken Rosenthal shares this item from a scout who said about Lincecum, “It will be an interesting question this winter: Where is he? What does he have left? I think he’ll end up in the bullpen.”

From Cy Young winner to just being a bullpen arm? Does that mean the scout thinks Lincecum will have arm trouble and lose durability? Even if his pitching has fallen off, I can’t imagine Lincecum becoming a reliever any time over the next few years. He’s not what he was the last two years, but that seems too extreme to me.

Regardless, we know one thing is for certain: there isn’t much more fragile than a pitcher’s arm. We’ve learned that countless times over the past few years.

Sources:
Would Jeter take less money for Yanks? [Ken Rosenthal/FOX Sports]

Kelly Johnson Pranked by At-Bat Music

When it comes to sports pranks, NFL rookie hazing is pretty good, but nothing beats baseball pranks.

Apparently Diamondbacks first baseman Adam LaRoche had been planning a revenge prank on second baseman Kelly Johnson for quite some time and he finally got him back by having the stadium music operator play “It’s Raining Men” as some at-bat music.

Heath Bell Sacrifices Chicken to Break Padres Losing Streak

In a 162 game season, the potential for things to go wrong in baseball is great. Even for a team winning its division, things haven’t gone perfectly for the San Diego Padres.

The Pads just snapped a 10-game losing streak with a win over the Dodgers on Monday night. Sick of losing for a week and a half straight, the team went to great lengths to change their luck. They didn’t try on red thongs or gold underwear, but they did pull a Chase Utley and do some voodoo. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Stealing from the movie “Major League,” before Sunday’s game against Colorado, Heath Bell asked a clubhouse attendant to bring in a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken to be sacrificed.

Even if it didn’t lead to a turnaround on Sunday, the Padres figured things out a day later beating the Dodgers 4-2. Maybe they needed to give it a few hours before the chicken reached the baseball gods in heaven. Bell of course was there to close out the win for his 38th save. He has the look of Rube Baker, the personality of Rick Vaughn, and the smarts of Jake Taylor. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Sources:
Padres’ losing streak hits double digits [Union-Tribune]

SportingNewsRadio.com: Yankees Facing Difficult Decision with Derek Jeter

The Yankees may be leading all of MLB with a .623 winning percentage, but not everything is going well for the team. Shortstop Derek Jeter is 36 years old and having the worst offensive year of his career. Worse yet, Jeter’s contract expires at the end of the year.

The Yankees and Jeter may have different views of the shortstop’s value after the season. The issue could result in one of the stickiest situations in sports since Brett Favre and the Packers divorced. Do the Yankees pony up for an aging shortstop whose play is declining or do they pay him based on his value to the franchise? I weighed in on how the tricky situation should be handled at Sporting News Radio’s website.

Also, I’m hosting a fantasy football show from 6am-7am PT Saturday mornings on SNR in addition to our college football and NFL pregame shows. My shows are 7am-10am PT Saturday and Sunday and you can tune in at sportingnewsradio.com.

Aubrey Huff Wearing a Red Thong as a Slump Buster

Jason Giambi sent collective LOLs throughout the internet a few years ago when revealed he wears a gold thong to break out of slumps. Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff will probably produce the same effect, but maybe to a higher degree.

Stuck in a 3-for-32 slump, Huff has turned to a red thong to try and change his luck, as Andrew Baggarly relays from the San Jose Mercury News. From Bags:

The last thing we need is for Huff to go 4-for-4 with the thong. Then he’ll wear it the rest of the season. Ordinarily that wouldn’t be a problem, but he walks around the clubhouse in it. He conducts interviews wearing only his thong. I’m not sure about this, but I think he wears little else while in the food room, too.

This may have just been a Giants problem before but apparently now it’s the media’s problem as well. Let’s hope for everyone involved that Huff breaks out of it quickly. With an OPS hovering around .950 a month ago, he can be a major force in San Francisco’s lineup. You know they’d like him to return to that form.

Sources:
Huff tied in knots at the plate, slug-a-Giant, Guillen runs a 4-K, etc. [Mercury News]