Fresh off the heels of an improbable World Series triumph, fans of the St. Louis Cardinals are forced once again to face an uncertain future – will Albert Pujols return to the Cardinals, or opt for greener pastures elsewhere.

My advice to Pujols would be to stay put in St. Louis.  He’s a beloved figure in the city, in a city that truly appreciates baseball, affiliated with an organization that has surrounded him with enough talents to win two World Series titles in recent year.  At some point, quality of life takes precedence over dollars and cents – and I can’t imagine a situation that would result in a greater quality of life for Pujols.

Where will Pujols land?  My guess is that he will end up with the Cardinals.  There’s too much pressure on the team to sign him.  How much will they spend to keep him?  Here’s a humorous article on that topic from 2010.

If Pujols doesn’t stay in St. Louis, there’s speculation that he could go north on I-55 to the Chicago Cubs – the hated rivals of the Cardinals.  With Theo Epstein now in charge of the Cubs, if wouldn’t be a shock to see them make a splash in free agency.  Or the Milwaukee Brewers might try to grab him to replace Prince Fielder.  (Who is worth more – Pujols or Fielder?)

Of course, don’t count out the New York Yankees.  It’s true that the Yankees already have a high priced first baseman, Mark Teixeira.  However, with Jorge Posada likely not returning, there are some at bats available.  If I were Brian Cashman, I’d sign Pujols primarily as  DH, but then use him at 1B to give Teixeira a day off in the field and 3B when A-Rod’s DHing.  Furthermore, it’s possible that A-Rod could slide over to SS on occasion to give Jeter a rest, and Pujols could play 3B on those days as well.  Maybe Pujols would get 30 games at 1B and 60 at 3B (30 when A-Rod DHs and 30 when A-Rod plays short).  An extravagance to use Pujols in this manner?  Definitely.  But this is the Yankees we’re talking about.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

On the top of people getting a lot of money, the Buffalo Bills signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to a six year contract extension worth $59 million.  I’m not going to ridicule this deal on the basis that athletes are overpaid, as I really don’t buy into that philosophy.  However, this particular deal is mind-boggling.

For the record, I like Fitzpatrick.  My wife’s favorite team is the St. Louis Rams, and Fitzpatrick played for the Rams for a few seasons.  However, let’s take a look at his career numbers.  He has completed 59% of his passes and has 59 touchdowns and 48 interceptions.  His career QB rating is 76.3.  Those numbers are serviceable, but hardly worth $10 million per year.  You can’t even look back to his college numbers to predict whether he will be an effective QB for the Bills, because he went to Harvard.  The Ivy League schools are great for academics, but not for athletics.

What are the Bills going?  Rewarding this year’s season, I suppose.  Fitzpatrick is off to a very good start – completing 66% of his passes, with 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.  Good start to the year, but let’s not extrapolate such a small sample size.

The NFL and NFLPA said that the new rookie pay scale was designed so that established veterans could earn more than unproven rookies.  That sounds good in theory, but in practice, it means $59 million (6 years) for Fitzpatrick (not to mention Michael Vick’s $100 million contract), while Cam Newton gets $22 million for four years.  While I still need to see more to be convinced that Cam Newton is for real, I can’t imagine any point in time when a team would have valued Ryan Fitzpatrick considerably higher than Newton – but Fitz will be making nearly twice as much.

Of course, this is the same league where a team traded a first round pick (plus a conditional pick that could become a first rounder) to a team with no leverage that was trying to trade a malcontent (Carson Palmer), while at other times you see deals get scrapped because a team doesn’t want to include a fifth round pick – so I get confused as to what teams actually value in the NFL.

49ers Close to Division Title

It’s November 1, which is really early to be talking about clinching.  However, the 49ers could clinch a tie for the division title as early as November 13.  San Francisco is 6-1 and their closest pursuers are the 2-5 Seahawks (the Rams and Cardinals are 1-6).

It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the 49ers have simply been feasting on a weak division, but this isn’t the case.  They’ve only played one game within the division so far.  Half of the ten games remaining for San Francisco are against NFC West foes – meaning that the 49ers could finish the season with a very impressive record.

Will Manning Return This Season?

There’s a possibility that Peyton Manning could be medically cleared to return this year.  However, the smart decision for the Colts would be to shut him down for the year and have him start anew in 2012.  With an 0-8 record this year, the only way the Colts will get to a playoff game is by purchasing tickets on StubHub.  Why risk a possible setback for a few meaningless games.

Then, too, there is draft position to consider.  Having Manning lead the team to a few late wins could mean that the Colts miss out on next generation franchise QB Andrew Luck.

BCS

Who are you pulling for in the BCS title game?  I’d like to see Oklahoma State vs. Boise State.  Would it receive the worst ratings of any BCS title game in history?  Perhaps.  But *I* would certainly enjoy it.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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