Walton's Wanderings – Monday/Tuesday

Whatever Cardinals-related topics are on Brian Walton's mind. New: The Needle and the Damage Done and a new interview with A.J.

Normally, I use this column during the off-season to discuss whatever is happening with the Cardinals. However, with a day off Monday and a late game Tuesday, it is making an appearance now.

Bernie and ‘Roids
Not sure why I am taking such frequent exception to what the P-D columnist is saying this week, but here we go again. In his Monday feel-good story about Derrek Lee, Albert Pujols and a lack of steroids, check out these samples from Bernie Miklasz link:

Bernie: "Because baseball started testing players in 2003, Lee and Pujols can put up impressive, incredible numbers without being tainted or smeared by innuendo."

Walton's take: Say what? When twice-waived Alex Sanchez is the highest-profile player busted for steroid use, it is difficult to imply with a straight face that the testing program is working for anyone. There seems to be little doubt that this new, tougher policy has been architected to put the big names on notice with ample time to clean up before ever being tested.

Bernie: "Sosa's decline in muscle mass and power over the last two years has raised doubts about his past performances."

Walton's take: Speaking of being "tainted or smeared by innuendo". Last I heard, Sosa has never failed a drug test before or since that wonderful testing policy began in 2003. In fact, Sosa testified before a Congressional Hearing that he did not use steroids.

I am neither here to defend Sosa, nor to make innuendo about him. I can't speak to supposed changes in his physique. But, Sosa surely isn't the first player in the game to experience a precipitous drop-off in productivity in his late 30's. For example, take a look at Larry Walker's numbers. No one is accusing him of anything except getting older.

Happy Birthday, Billy
Phillies' closer Billy Wagner turns 34 years old today (Monday).

Walton's take: Wags is a self-avowed Cardinals fan and the object of considerable Cardinal fan lust as a result. That and the fact that he can throw in the upper ‘90s, is lefthanded and is an impending free agent on a team that is middling around in the area of .500. Still, if he goes anywhere, expect Wagner to be traded to a team like Boston, not St. Louis. Sorry, folks.

Needling the decision-making
In a Belleville News-Democrat story, link, a line caught my attention. (Cardinals trainer Barry) "Weinberg said he was going to meet with La Russa to decide a plan of action" (on Larry Walker's neck).

Walton's take: I am not a doctor and I am not there behind the closed doors. Perhaps I am reading too much into that one line, but I would feel a lot better if I read that Dr. George Paletta was meeting with Walker and the two of them would give their decision to La Russa and Weinberg. Not the other way around.

Maybe we're all a little sensitive, but that may be in order given the recent Scott Rolen situation. No one has explained a 180 degree change in position about his treatment, so we have to wonder any more what is spin and what is real.

Rolen can play without further injury. Rolen may be back in early September. Rolen may be out until 2006.

Molina's story changing from being out for just a few days, maybe returning before the All-Star break to suddenly out two-to-three weeks more.

Who to believe? What to believe?

An interesting rumor
Bernie again, this time reporting a trade rumor at his forum: "if the O's get Nevin from the Padres, they send Mora to STL for Marquis, and Wainwright comes up. Mora can play multiple positions, including 3B and both corner OF spots."

Walton's take: Yes, and Mora is a fine player. Too fine, in fact. Show me a general manager who would give up Mora for Marquis straight up and I will show you a soon-to-be ex-GM. There would have to be more to the deal than that… On the positive side, the O's do need pitching and if they have to take Mike Lowell from the Marlins, they'd have one too many third basemen and already have a crowded outfield.

Nailed again?
From an AP story link about the exposed nail on the Busch Stadium dugout steps that led to John Rodriguez' ankle injury:

"Right fielder Larry Walker got his cleats caught on the same nail earlier in the season and also missed a start, and Jim Edmonds said he's often mentioned the problem to team officials."

Walton's take: Forget increasing the payroll. Forget about rest and rehab. How about just assigning someone with a big hammer to fix what is wrong with the Cardinals?

Seriously, this is pretty darned embarrassing.

The Needle and the Damage Done
According to CBS Sportsline, among the treatments that Albert Pujols used to return to play after being scratched on Saturday with a left shoulder strain was a session with an acupuncturist. Pujols was back in the lineup Sunday after missing only his third start this season. He did pinch hit in the seventh Saturday and played the rest of the game.

Walton's take: It is obvious Albert is not 100%, but like Rolen, he will play through it if at all possible.

A.J. Van Slyke interview
My friend David Kopacz from SportsBlurb.com had a brief, but interesting conversation with the New Jersey Cardinal. Take a look! link

Graded incomplete
As I continue my travels up until Tuesday night's game, I will continue to add new content here. So, feel free to check back later.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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