The big story surrounding the St. Louis Cardinals going into 2011 is obviously Albert Pujols. The slugger wants a contract like the one Alex Rodriguez signed a while back for $25 million per season.
Here’s the problem: he also reportedly wants a VERY long-term deal. If I were any GM outside of St. Louis, there’s no way I meet his demands. The Cardinals, however, are in a different position.
Other teams won’t miss what they never had. The Cardinals?
Well, without Pujols, they become a very ordinary offensive club (with a subpar bullpen, but that’s another story). To this point, St. Louis has not relented and it now appears Pujols will indeed become a free agent following the 2011 season. It’s really hard for me to imagine him playing elsewhere but it looks now, more than ever, that it is a possibility.
I totally understand the Cardinals being hesitant to commit to a deal that runs more than 5-6 years. As great as Pujols is, chances are that his numbers will begin to decline at that point, if not sooner.
Has he been grossly underpaid when compared to other player’s salaries basically throughout his entire career? Yes, without question.
But that doesn’t mean that the Cardinals have to make up for it by locking themselves into a deal that will severely hamper their ability to sign other players for the next decade. Albert accepted a “hometown discount” when he signed his last deal. He didn’t have to do that. No one forced him to accept less money to stay with the Cardinals. He chose to do so.
And really, the guy is a millionaire many, many, many times over. I’m pretty sure this guy’s family is set for generations to come.
What this really comes down to is Albert Pujols’ ego. He feels he has been underpaid for years and that he is the best player in the game and should now be paid accordingly. Personally, I won’t dispute him being the best hitter in baseball and his glove isn’t too shabby either.
But is being the highest paid player worth hamstringing the team you’ll be playing with from adding talent around you to help your team win? I’d say it’s not; especially when you’re already as wealthy as Albert. I think he needs to have a sit down with Cliff Lee. Lee took less money to sign with the Phillies because he felt they gave him the best chance to win.
Either Albert cares more about himself than winning or Albert doesn’t care if he wins, as long as he gets his. Either way, that’s a sad way to portray yourself when you are as great as he has been over his entire career.
I hope the Cardinals don’t blink in this stare down but ultimately, I wouldn’t be shocked if they do. There’s too much for them to lose. Think of it this way-would you want to be known as the management that ran one of the greatest, perhaps THE greatest since Babe Ruth, all-around hitters in the history of the game out of town?
–Adam SatoriusFollow paulmbanks