Sunday, December 18, 2011

Didn't See That One Coming

I really, really thought that Albert Pujols would remain a St. Louis Cardinal.  It's been a little over a week since Albert signed with the Los Angeles Angels and I think I've read everything possible about this deal and how it unfolded.  Financially, I knew it would be hard for the Cardinals to keep Albert but I thought they would find a way to make it work.  The team, the city, they all wanted Albert to be a Cardinal forever.  As for the Angels, I didn't see that one coming but in hindsight it all makes sense. 

It happens like this so often.  We keep hearing about one team (in this case the Marlins) and all reports make it seem like a done deal.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, another team swoops in and grabs the prize.  It took less than 48 hours for new Angel GM Jerry Dipoto to quietly make it work.  $254 million over ten years.  It was agreed to in the wee hours of the morning.  Just to make his all-nighter worthwhile, Dipoto also inked pitcher C.J. Wilson to a five year $77.5 million deal.  That total, $331.5 million, is more than owner Arte Morena paid for the team.  I guess the Angels were tired of being second to the Rangers in the AL West.

Albert got what he wanted in both money and years.  It's the second richest baseball contract in the history of the game.  Cardinals GM Bill DeWitt was very honest when he told fans that the organization had a 50-50 chance of re-signing the face of their franchise.  With the Angels recent influx of cash, the Cards didn't stand a chance.  They offered a good contract, $210 million over 10 years, but not great.  They offered what they could afford to pay.  They weren't willing to sacrifice so much of the teams future on one player.   A player who has, ever so slightly, begun his decline. 

What Albert gained financially in Los Angeles, he gave up historically in St. Louis.  He will not go into the baseball history books as the greatest Cardinal of all time.  I'm certain there are those in St. Louis who feel betrayed.  Those who are angry and bitter will, in time, remember that baseball is a business.  I know it was a tough decision emotionally for Albert to leave St. Louis.  I wonder if it was somehow made easier by the departure of Tony LaRussa?  Walking away in the glow of their second World Series title together.

I'm glad that I always made it to the Ted when the Cards were in town.  Over the past 11 seasons I've been fortunate to see Albert quite a few times.  One of my favorite at-bats came during the 2010 season.  In Albert's last plate appearance in Atlanta for the year he faced Billy Wagner.  Great versus Great.  Wags got Albert out with two pitches and the entire ball park went nuts!  I'll miss seeing Albert but it's better for Braves fans to see Albert wearing an Angels uni than that of the Marlins!

One thing is for certain.  St. Louis fans can still rest assured that Albert Pujols will go into the Hall of Fame as a St. Louis Cardinal.  And years from now, Cardinals fans will see Albert in his red sports coat at Busch Stadium on Opening Day.  That they can count on.


  1. Don't you think it had something to do with being in the American league? It was interesting because it appears that the Marlins had offered even more money. I think Albert knows he is slowing down and certainly will toward the end of the 10 years and having a home to DH in would be ideal. I am with you though, that I am glad we won't have to play him with the Marlins.


  2. The Marlins deal was much more lucrative and I think you're right in that the AL was a big draw due to the DH. I Albert doesn't want to go from team to team his last few years. If he stayed in the NL, there might be one more team on his resume.

  3. I have a follower who responded to this post privately. He is a HUGE Cardinals fan and has always been one of Albert's biggest cheerleaders. I found his comments very interesting. Here's a snippett:

    "I'm relieved Pujols is gone. Not sad, not glad. And not just because of the money. His next 10 years of performance are going to be very unlike his last 11 years. The Cardinals did not owe it to him to overpay him with a lengthy contract at his age. Every MLB team passed him over several times in the draft, and the argument can be made that he owed the Cardinals for being the ones that finally gave him the chance. They rewarded him with adoring praise and overlooked his aloof ways in the clubhouse because of his GREATNESS between the lines. The veteran leadership of the 2011 World Series success came from Carpenter and Berkman. In 2006, it was Edmonds. Pujols is NOT a leader in the clubhouse like he should be at this point. His true colors will come out in Anaheim when the inevitable begins, and I hope he is able to make a contructive adjustment for his teammates and fans. I believe in time the Angels deal will go down as a really bad one, but they have plenty of money to get what they need from him NOW, so no harm done. Albert wins. The Angels win. The Cardinals move on. The Hall of Fame debate will continue until the day comes, and he likely will go in as a Cardinal for the obvious. As for the red jacket, he can only hope to be like Bruce Sutter, and occasionally be invited to wear a red jacket at Busch, but he will never be a member of the real Red Jacket Club of Stan, Red, Gibby, Lou and Ozzie. (His agent would probably want him to be PAID to wear a red jacket in Busch anyway!) His true colors have been shown. It's about green, not red."

    Comments anyone?

  4. Who among us would turn down $44 million in additional salary? I would make a move for something around $44.

    I feel for Cards fans but this will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. The contract is pricey but justifiable in the first five years but the back half of the deal will be a different story. Let the Angels overpay Pujols for past performance.

    Merry Christmas D!


  5. I wouldn't turn down $44 million either HK. I'm sure the fans in St. Louis feel a bit betrayed, just as Braves fans did when Tom Glavine went to the dreaded Mets. Alas, time heals all wounds.

    Merry Christmas back atcha!

  6. Anybody see this?

    From the Orioles Insider blog this a.m.

    "Well, Adam Jones is the team’s best trade chip. But unless the Orioles get a front-line pitcher in return, I don’t see them dealing Jones. The Atlanta Braves made a run this month, offering second baseman-outfielder Martin Prado, starter Jair Jurrjens and, eventually, a pitching prospect, and the Orioles didn’t bite. So that tells you just how much they value their center fielder. (Jurrjens looked like a front-line starter in the first half of 2011, but there have been some durability concerns surrounding the 25-year-old righty since his 215-inning season in 2009.)"

    I sure hope this is nothing more than a bad rumor.


  7. Yikes! Someone left me a phone message about this one too. I totally don't get it!