Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quick Hits: LaRussa Pleads Guilty to DUI; Another Twin Gone?; Wagner Slams the Mets; Rollins Makes Another Declaration......

According to ESPN, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa pleaded guilty yesterday to driving under the influence Wednesday, eight months after police found him asleep inside his running sport utility vehicle at a stop light and smelling of alcohol. The incident took place in Florida during Spring Training, and lest we forget, a few weeks later, relief pitcher Josh Hancock lost his life due to driving while drunk.

La Russa said he had decided to plead guilty to the misdemeanor because it was in the best interest of all concerned.

"I accept full responsibility for my conduct, and assure everyone that I have learned a very valuable lesson and that this will never occur again," La Russa said in a statement released by his attorney, David Roth. La Russa did not appear in court to plead guilty.

As part of his plea agreement, La Russa will serve at least six months' probation, pay a $678.50 fine, complete DUI school and any recommended treatment and complete 50 hours of community service, according to state prosecutors.

Hopefully, Mr. LaRussa has learned from his mistakes, and this brush with the law will not blemish an outstanding managerial career.


I was scouring the news, and I figure the Minnesota Twins will go through an off-season of changes. Considering the organization has always been one of most budget-conscious teams, they are relatively known as cheap & as well tend to know the value of their players, media reports out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul report that Joe Nathan, one of the best closers in baseball might join Johan Santana on the trading clock.

From It will be surprising if the Twins, after losing center fielder Torii Hunter to the Los Angeles Angels, don't trade closer Joe Nathan, perhaps to the Milwaukee Brewers, in the coming weeks.

The Twins also are expected to trade two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana before long, as well as lose starting pitcher Carlos Silva to free agency.

Nathan's future in Minnesota became clearer last weekend when the Cincinnati Reds signed free-agent closer Francisco Cordero, formerly of the Brewers, for a guaranteed $46 million for four years in a deal that includes a $12 million, fifth-season option.

Cordero is 32. Nathan, who can become a free agent after next season, turned 33 last week. Cordero had 44 saves for the Brewers last season; Nathan had 37 for the Twins. And it doesn't appear there will be an abundance of save opportunities for Nathan next season if he stays with Minnesota.

Nathan is signed for a bargain $6 million for next season. But at his age, it's highly unlikely that the budget-conscious Twins would be willing to extend his contract for at least four years for $40 million, which appears to be his market value.

I would not disagree with this one bit. I think the Twins might keep him during the '08 season, unless someone makes the team an offer they could not refuse in the off-season. I see him being dealt before the deadline in '08 if they Twins do not contend.

It really, really looks like Minnesota will have a vastly different team than in '08 from what you saw last season.


Well, the Mets highly-paid closer, Billy Wagner gave his two cents the other day to a reporter on the website and he is none too pleased the way the organization is conducting business during spring training.

Here's what he said about losing Glavine and potentially giving up some of their young talent...

"Someone asked me what I thought of our team," Wagner told "I said, 'What team?' We've lost 13 games (Glavine's 2007 win total), and now we are going to have to give up something to get those games back. I'm afraid we're just going to create other holes if we give up a (Lastings) Milledge, a (Mike) Pelfrey or a (Aaron) Heilman.

"I'm trying to be positive. I'm saying we have some good players. But I'm worried. The Braves are getting better, and the Phillies made a move (by trading for closer Brad Lidge). We've brought back some people, and that's good. But losing Tom is big. It's a lot more than the 13games he won. It's what he did for John Maine and Oliver Perez and how professional he was. People want to focus on one bad game or just the day-to-day stats. I do that myself when I read about football. But I'm involved in this, and I know how important (Glavine) was. We don't have him and we don't even get to the last game with a chance. He was one of the few leaders we had.

... and

Wagner also lamented Paul Lo Duca's ouster.

"Maybe he wasn't the best receiver. I don't know. But Paulie competed," Wagner said. "He battled every day, and we had some guys who didn't show up every day. They were satisfied if they got a hit and we lost.

"Paul was (angry) if he had four hits and we lost. And every one of the pitchers trusted him. He was a big part of what we did, and now he's gone, too. ...It just worries me that we're missing some important guys."

Wagner told the Mets' Web site it would be foolish to include Heilman in a trade. "It would be a big chance to take," he said. "... No way you can trade him."

And as for any consideration of putting Orlando Hernandez in the bullpen, he added: "(El Duque) pitches great for five games and then can't pitch for two weeks. If we put him in the bullpen, we're going to ask him to pitch three times a week. Can he take that?"

To be perfectly honest, in following the NL East and my knowledge of it, I cannot argue with anything that he says.

His criticism might be heightened by the Mets' dramatic fall at the end of the '07 season; however, this is a team despite it's strength and payroll that has quite a few weakness -- for starters, being the pitching.

Wagner has always been blunt (item: Philadelphia), but he's right on the situation with the Mets.


Well, the reigning MVP and a member of the NL East Champions, Philadelphia Phillies, Jimmy Rollins boldly said that his team would win the division and they did on the last day of the season.

Now he's made another one.

Jimmy Rollins didn't declare the Phillies the team to beat until a media luncheon last January. The Phils, of course, went on to win the National League East.

This time around, he's wasting no time in making his predictions bold and stern for next year.

"We'll win probably 100 games . . . 100 games will get us to the playoffs," Rollins told Comcast SportsNet last night, when asked for his forecast for next season.

"There's going to be fireworks, I know that much . . . and I plan on another celebration, but not just one," the MVP added. "I don't plan on giving up that title of NL East champions, I know that much. I don't know if we can make a run like the Braves did [14 straight division titles], but we've started."

Let's not discount Jimmy now...

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