Note: In the wake of Albert Pujols opting to leave the Cardinals and sign with the Angels, I asked a friend of mine who is a die-hard Cardinals fan to write about his reaction.

Albert Pujols is leaving the St. Louis Cardinals to join the Los Angeles Angels for a reported 10 year, 250 million dollar contract. And apparently, the Angels contract wasn’t worth as much as the Miami Marlins’ offer. The Marlins apparently offered Pujols 10 years, 275 million, but they wouldn’t give Albert a no-trade clause. Hearing these numbers, the Cardinals didn’t have a chance. They simply could not afford THAT much money.

To be honest, the big mistake by the Cardinals was not taking care of this several years ago when you could work with him and his agent. The worst thing that could happen for the Cardinals was for Albert to make it to Free Agency. And that’s a mistake I’m sure the they now regret.

My reaction as a Cardinals fan has to be to look for the silver lining. In one regard, he is going to the American League. Obviously, if he’s going to another team, it’s great that he’s leaving the league so you don’t have to compete against him. You may see him in the World Series, but even then, if you see him there, it means that the Cardinals were good enough to get back there without him. Secondly, this relieves quite a financial burden on the Cardinals organization. They will not be bogged down during the second part of a long-term contract with an aging player whose numbers will likely decline. Now, the Cardinals can go after several quality players and bolster their line-up.

As the Winter Meetings continue, they may decide to go after a premiere shortstop, or a quality pitcher. The Cardinals now know they don’t have Pujols and can therefore be an influential player in the remainder of the Winter Meetings. It’s an opportunity to fills multiple gaps rather than be hamstrung with a massive, long-term contract with one player.

Another aspect is that Cardinals fans can feel confident that the Cardinals now have the resources to keep Adam Wainwright. When his contract comes up after the 2013 season, Wainwright will likely demand much more than his current contract, $21 million over two years. It appears now that keeping Wainwright is no longer a worry.

Finally, I know that many Cardinals fans may feel betrayed by Pujols for leaving. He always stated it wasn’t about the money. Apparently it was. But personally, I want to thank Albert for the past 11 seasons. Over those 11 years I got to see a man play baseball who will go down as one of the best baseball players to ever play the game…if not THE best. With Pujols, the Cardinals went to 3 World Series, winning two of them. However, we won before without him, and we will win again without him. St. Louis is a passionate baseball city, and Cardinals management will do their best to bring a World Championship back to St. Louis.

It’s the end of an era. And while we’d hoped that he would be our generations “Stan the Man”, it just wasn’t meant to be.

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