Albert Pujols is now with the Angels after 11 seasons in St. Louis. He compiled a .302 career average against the Cubs and belted 53 home runs off Chicago pitchers, his highest total against any opponent. Twenty-six of those came at Wrigley Field, and six were hit last season, including two Carlos Marmol would like to forget.
"When you think of the Cardinals, the first thing you think of is Pujols," Cubs pitcher Rodrigo Lopez said.
But the slugger is gone, and now the Cardinals' scouting report looks different. Sort of.
"Right now, I'm not so sure they're losing anything with [Carlos] Beltran in there, not to take anything away from Pujols," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Friday. "The one thing about Beltran is he hits from both sides of the plate, and he runs.
"The biggest thing [Friday] is not having [Lance] Berkman in there," Sveum said. "[Matt] Holliday, Beltran, [David] Freese is about as good a 3-4-5 as there is in baseball, let alone the National League."
Lopez said the Cardinals are still a threat.
"It's different [without Pujols], but those guys -- Holliday, Freese -- are good, and Freese is getting better all the time," Lopez said. "Not having Pujols protecting Holliday and Berkman, it changes your way to pitch. Having Pujols at any time, especially with runners in scoring position, makes you work a little more. Without Pujols' protection, we can be more aggressive."
Lopez had the edge against Pujols until last season, when the slugger went 6-for-9 against him. Before that, Pujols was 0-for-11. So Lopez won't miss him?
"No, I won't," Lopez said. "It's good he's not here. I'm not going to miss him."