I wanted to wait to revisit this issue when spring training starts. I wanted to talk more about the minor league system review by Baseball America, but I don’t think too many Cardinal fans are worried about the progress of the top 10 Cardinal prospects. I think the topic of the day and the next month will be about “The Machine”. It appears now that that we will know for sure whether or not by the start of spring training if Albert Pujols will be a St. Louis Cardinal for the rest of his career, as Pujols and his agent, Dan Lozano, have given the Cardinals a deadline. The deadline has been talked about before, but it appears the Pujols camp wants to make sure the Cardinals completely understand.
Before I get into any more details, I want to post some comments Pujols made back in 2009. These quotes were from Matthew Leach, which I picked up off this article where Pujols discusses his future.
“Do I want to be in St. Louis forever? Of course,” Pujols said. “People from other teams want to play in St. Louis and they’re jealous that we’re in St. Louis because the fans are unbelievable. So why would you want to leave a place like St. Louis to go somewhere else and make $3 or $4 more million a year? It’s not about the money. I already got my money. It’s about winning and that’s it.”
“It’s not about the money all the time,” the first baseman said. “It’s about being in a place to win and being in a position to win. If the Cardinals are willing to do that and put a team (on the field) every year like they have, I’m going to try to work everything out to stay in this town. But if they’re not bringing championship caliber play every year, then it’s time for me to go somewhere else that I can win… When I signed my contract I was really happy with what I got. When that time comes (for another contract) then we’re going to figure it out.”
I’ve made my case on here for why I think the Cardinals would be better off to go ahead and move forward without Pujols. I think I’m in the minority of Cardinal fans with this opinion, but I’m going to stand behind it. There seems to be a lot of “misremembering” going on in Cardinal Nation. One of the things being misremembered is that Albert Pujols is already a very wealthy man, complements of the St. Louis Cardinals and a $100 million dollar contract. Pujols actually points that out in the previous comments from last year. Honestly, I’m tired of hearing about the reasons why the Cardinals have to resign Pujols. I’m more interested in the Cardinals being competitive over the next ten years than the legacy of Pujols.
It appears that the Cardinals and Pujols are trying to keep the negotiations out of the press, or at least, that is what the Pujols camp wants to do. However, by setting a deadline for the Cardinals to respond to, he’s not fulfilling his end of the duty in doing so. Another thing that is getting me fired up is that Albert has said that money is not the main factor. If that’s the case, why hasn’t he signed yet? If winning is truly what he wants more than anything, he knows if the Cardinals break the bank on a contract with him that it will hamper their ability to compete. Pujols said that he wants a competitive team around him, which he has. If Pujols really wanted a deal to be done with the Cardinals and wanted to remain a Cardinal for life, he would tell his agent to make it happen. It’s not as if the Cardinals are going offer him an offending offer. I think 8 years and $200 million should be more than enough. Like I’ve said, it’s not as if anyone in his family is going to have to be worried about their Twix bar getting stuck in a vending machine.
Maybe the difference between $200 and $300 million can change a lot of things for Pujols. Most of us will never be able to comprehend the lifestyle difference. Maybe Pujols feels he has to get all he can now, as he is undoubtedly the best player in the game. But it’s not as if he’s not going to continue to make millions of dollars a year after he retires. He’ll get paid for signing autographs, making public appearances, investments from the hundreds of millions he will have been paid, etc.
I think most of us want the players, especially the big name ones, that play for the Cardinals have a little bit of pride in putting on the birds on the bat. I’m not saying that Albert Pujols doesn’t respect that. I think he does, and he points to the fact in his comments. But if what’s going on behind the scenes is really about more than money, then what is the holdup? I think I’ll go ahead and wait and see like everyone else, but if Pujols is wanting top dollar, I think the Cardinals should let him go and move forward. Invest that money into pitching, pitching and more pitching. Divide that money that Pujols would have received over a few different players so that an injury to Pujols doesn’t put the Cardinals out of the race. I think we already received the best years from Pujols, as he is bound to decline. Also, what about Adam Wainwright? If the Cards resign Pujols, will the money be there for him when the time comes? How will it be possible to pick up the 2012 option for Chris Carpenter?
So, if I’m the Cardinals, I make an offer that would be the second biggest one in baseball, 8 years and $200 million. If what he said above is true, then $200 million should be enough respect. If Pujols wants to test the market after the year, let him. If you think you have no chance, trade him now and get as many young players as possible for him. If winning is a top priority, then there won’t be too many teams he can sign with that will top the Cards. I know Albert Pujols wants respect. If being the second highest paid player in the game for the best team in the history of the NL isn’t enough respect, then it really is only about the money, period.