Phat Albert

February 15, 2011

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As we attempt to corner the market on Pujols-related commentary, Johnny adds his thoughts on the topic.

Pitchers and Catchers are reporting … we are headed into the upcoming baseball season as the NFL appears to be mired in a circus of doom regarding salaries and collective bargaining agreements, or lack thereof.  But another disagreement regarding salary is looming large on the horizon in Major League Baseball.  The Cardinals current inability to come to terms with Albert Pujols.

No realistic talks have taken place for a few weeks.  The Cardinals are offering 30 million a year for 5 years.  That is some fat money no matter how good you are in baseball terms.  Prince Albert is allegedly looking for a bit more security and wants 10 years in a new contract, to the tune of about 300 million.

There have been some other large contracts recently in the majors that after the fact never seem to look all that good.  Pedro Martinez signed for humongous cash and promptly put two to three epic years on the mound, but then injuries and age caught him quicker than anyone could have imagined.

Most people point out the ridiculous contract that was penned by Alex Rodriguez, both in terms of numbers of years and also total amount of money.  Can any one player live up to that type of value?  For the type of money and length of contract that is being desired by Pujols, the Cardinals could instead get 3 major impact players for the ballclub.  So … why would they want to sign him for this type of money?

In the age of Free Agency, few players are the face of the franchise like Pujols currently is.  A few others come to mind.  Derek Jeter of the Yankees, Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies, Ichiro of the Mariners … and I am sure there are others.  But most any player that starts out on a small market team does not stay there long.  The money is too great and there is always the deep pockets of teams like the Red Sox and Yankees ready to pony up the funds to bring in some guns for hire.  Signing Pujols long term means you are paying a premium to keep him around as the centerpiece of your St Louis Cardinals, where you plan on having him stay.

Pujols also has numbers to back up getting a ridiculous contract.  Ten straight years of hitting over .300 and knocking in over 100 runs.  That is something even Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig cannot claim to have done.  Pujols is at the top of the list for doing this and is still in his prime.  He has endured this streak through injuries and is perennially among conversations involving the Triple Crown. (leading the league in Batting Average, Homers and Runs Batted In)  The last player to win a triple crown was Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 as he single handedly propelled the Red Sox into the World Series where they lost to … guess who … yep, the same Cardinals.  Stats Like these with Pujols don’t lie, he is worthy of the largest contract in the league.

The flip side is he is 10 years into his career.  At what point does he start to decline?  Will injuries continue to creep into his playing time?  Can he keep this up forever?  What does a contract like this do to the ability to sign other good players in the competitive National League Central?

These are all questions that the Cardinals organization as well as the fans of St Louis need to be taking into consideration.  The good news for the Cardinals is it is late in the game.  I am not sure at this stage when teams have restructured their contracts and loaded up in Free Agency that they could pay Albert the type of money he is looking for either.  To me it seems like we are witnessing a real world game of chicken, albeit for a lot of money … and the key to playing chicken…you gotta know when the other guy is going to flinch.

Stay Classy St Louis!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kosmo
    Feb 15, 2011 @ 11:34:16

    “In the age of Free Agency, few players are the face of the franchise like Pujols currently is. A few others come to mind. Derek Jeter of the Yankees, Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies, Ichiro of the Mariners”

    I’m not sure if Rollins is the face of the franchise in the same manner of Pujols. Pujols in the most popular players on the Cardinals, year in and year out. I’m not sure this is the case with Rollins. There’s a lot of chatter about Halladay this spring, and Utley and Howard have their share of press clippings. Even when Carpenter and Wainright were battling for the Cy Young, I’m not sure they ever eclipsed Pujols.

    Ichiro definitely WAS the face of SEA for a long time, but I think Felix may be taking the mantle from him.

    One thing working against Pujols is that the Yankees and Red Sox have locked up stud 1B in the past couple of years (Teixeira and Adrian Gonzalez). Pujols is not an embarrassment defensively, but he’s not going to push those guys to DH … and signing Pujols as a 30M DH would seem a bit extravagant.

    There’s a more direct Triple Crown link to the Cardinals. Ducky Medwick was the last National League player to win the triple crown, batting .374 with 31 homers and 154 RBI in 1937.


  2. Evan
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 08:45:49

    One of the crazier pieces of speculation (just that- speculation) that I heard, was Pujols to the Phillies for Howard. The thinking from whoever concocted it was that it benefits the Cards, because Howard is already signed to a long-term deal, and is from St. Louis. In theory, it benefits the Phils because they get out from under Howard’s contract, and then have more wiggle room in future years after all the money thrown at Cliff Lee. The problem is that, by all signs, the Phillies have no wiggle room in their budget this year.


  3. kosmo
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 09:02:25

    Those rumors were pretty active last year. I guess I’m not sure what it would gain either team.

    From the Cardinals point of view, if you’re going to pony up big $$ for a 1B, doesn’t it make sense to keep Pujols? I’d argue that he’s the better player of the two, and he already has the fan base in place.

    From the Phillies perspective, you get out from under the Howard deal, but what do you do at the end of the year? If you don’t re-sign Pujols, then you need to get a bat on the open market. You might save 7,8,9 million per year (unless you use internal options), but it’s not as if the entire 25M cost of Howard goes away.

    In any case, Pujols is a 5 and 10 man (10 years MLB service including 5 with the current team), so he can veto any trade.

    Saw your note about the server error. That’s popped up a few times recently – kind of randomly.


  4. Evan
    Feb 16, 2011 @ 15:01:21

    Regarding the server error – oddly, the comment went through.

    Yea, I didn’t place much weight in the Howard/Pujols rumors. But boy, Philly would be even more scary if that did go through. I love Howard, but I think Pujols is on his own level.


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