Once again, Albert Pujols is front and center in the world of baseball.  As I write this, we’re closing in on the deadline Albert set for striking a deal.  It seems increasingly unlikely that Pujols will sign a deal prior to the deadline – setting the stage for his possible departure from St. Louis.  While there are a lot of teams that would love to have Pujols in their lineup, are there any willing and able to pony up $30 million per year?  The Yankees and Red Sox have a franchise 1B locked up, and those are usually the two teams with the most cash.

Of course, Pujols played third base earlier in his career.  The Yankees would play him at 3B, move A-Rod back to SS, and turn their aging SS into a utility player.  (I kid, John, I kid.)

Speaking of Yankees … CC Sabathia showed up at camp considerably lighter.  That’s a relative concept for a guy who lugs around 300 pounds on his 6’7″ frame, but he claims to be down 25 pounds from last year.  Based on the photos, I can believe it.  The one concern I always had with CC was his weight.  I always thought that it would eventually cause him to wear down at the end of the year.  It hasn’t happened yet – with Sabathia winning at least 17 games, pitching at least 230 innings, and posting an ERA of 3.37 or better in each of the past 4 seasons – and the weight loss might make him even more durable.  With 157 wins on his resume at age 30, Sabathia remains a solid candidate to be come the next 300 game winner – especially if he can maximize his wins the next few years, before the Yankee core declines too much.  There’s also the possibility that Sabathia could opt out of his deal, but I don’t see that happening.

Off the field …

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama recognized former Cardinal Stan “The Man” Musial with the presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.  The greatest Cardinal of them all was a 24 time All-Star (note that there were two All Star games each year between 1959 and 1962, with one game benefitting the players’ pension fund).

The ownership of the New York Mets is in flux.  The owners are looking into the possibility of selling a 25% share of the team.  The owners are being sued by Irving Picard (no relation to Jean-Luc), the trustee for victims of Bernie Madoff.  Picard alleges that team ownership withdrew large amounts of false profits from their accounts with Madoff, and should have know that fraud was occurring.  This is the latest in a recent string of off-field issue affecting teams.  The McCourt divorce is still casting uncertainly on the future of the Dodgers.

Spring Training has begun, meaning that winter is officially over.  This means that any subsequent snowfalls will be in violation of federal law.

My picks for the World Series?  As much as I’d like to pick the Rockies, any team with Cole Hamels as their #4 starter  is going to make some noise – so I pick the Phillies from the NL.  In the AL, I’ll give the nod to the Red Sox, who added an extremely good player in Adrian Gonzalez.  My player to watch this season is Homer Bailey.  Although many have already given up on him as a bust, the kid won’t turn 25 until May.  I think he has enough experience under his belt to put together a breakout season in 2011.