Wednesday, August 4, 2010

ARod reaches 600 and Trade Deadline Reaction

Alex Rodriguez FINALLY hit #600 in his first at bat against the Blue Jays today. I'm sure a nation of Yankee haters can rejoice that the daily updates on ARod will be coming to an end after a day of tributes. The milestone leaves me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I've come to appreciate ARod for the fact that he's finally done what I'd always wanted him to do -- cut out all the "I need to be the perfect superstar ballplayer" crap and just turned into a ballplayer. The flip side is that he's an admitted PED user, so his 600 doesn't mean as much as a guy like Ken Griffey Jr. reaching the same level. I guess in many ways, ARod has come to represent what I started to dislike about the Yankees betweeen 2002 and 2008 -- the excess, the flaunting of their financial power, the ability to hate without admitting you respect the team/player. Those were cornerstones of Torre's early years, and I felt like after losing the World Series in 2001. But still, it's a milestone, and I think years from now, as the dust settles from the steroid era, I think ARod will get his due for being the player that he is.

Last weekend also saw the non-waiver trading deadline come and go. For all the talk that it would be a quiet deadline this year, it sure seems like there was a lot of activity. The Yankees added Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood. I was pleased with all three acquisitions, and think this might strengthen the team to a point where they'll be awfully tough to beat in October, providing their starting pitching returns to full health. Wood is a player that I was especially pleased to see in pinstripes. I've watched his career from the beginning, and really was annoyed with the way the Cubs shuffled him out of town. He adds depth to a bullpen that has been struggling of late.

Down in St. Louis, it has been a bit of a mixed bag. The Cardinals ripped off 8 straight wins after the All Star Break, but have been a model of inconsistency since. Most frustrating for me is that they seem to play poorly against teams they should be beating. Both Houston and the Cubs are teams that are struggling and there really is no excuse for expecting a team to take 2 of 3 games in a series from these teams. But, time and again, we've seen this team lost 2 of 3, and that just doesn't give you a good feeling as we get closer to the end of the season. Cincinnati hasn't show much sign that they are going away, and a team with championship aspirations MUST pad a lead against the lesser teams in the division.

The trade deadline was a bit quieter in St. Louis. The team was in the mix for Roy Oswalt, but had to settle for Jake Westbrook. Westbrook, who is a groundball pitcher, seems like an ideal guy for Dave Duncan and the Cardinals pitching staff, and the depth helps negate the injuries to Lohse and Penny, not to mention gives you some protection against Jaime Garcia hitting the rookie wall. The trade did spell the end of Ryan Ludwick's time in St. Louis and I'm very sorry to see him go. His was a great story and you love seeing a guy like that stick with things and finding his chance to be an everyday player. His playing time had slipped due to injury and the emergence of hot-hitting rookie John Jay, so something had to give. Ludwick should fare well in San Diego. They're a team that reminds me very much of the Cardinals of the last few years, and they should have a regular spot for "Luddy" in their outfield. They are a possible playoff opponent, should the Cardinals hold off the Reds, so you do worry a bit about him coming back to haunt his old team.

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