First, I’m glad the Cards re-signed Rafael Furcal. His defense was a key part in turning the season around. I hope the Cards continue to make defense at shortstop a priority in the future, especially as long as the pitch to contact philosophy is still in place. I excpect Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse (who had a great regular season) to have better numbers in 2012 if Furcal is healthy all year.
Getting to Albert Pujols, what’s left to say that hasn’t been said? Actually, there’s a lot, and the stories keep coming out. I’ll add a few thoughts as I go. I was going to do this sooner, but the stories keep getting better. Also, at the end of my rant today, I’m going to give you the thoughts from a guest blogger, Jordan Stone. We don’t always agree on the Cardinals, but he did send me a text the day Pujols signed with the Angels and was happy we didn’t sign him for that amount. So let’s get to the topics.
Let’s start off with a Pujols quote from his press conference:
“I think the city of St. Louis is going to continue to love me.”
Well, big Al, it doesn’t appear that way. It seems like about a 90/10 split right now that’s not in your favor. I love you for not crippling the Cardinals for years to come by doing what I always knew you would do and go to the highest bidder. If anyone hasn’t read it already, the Pujols deal with the Angels is actually for 20 years, the last 10 being a personal services contract. Pujols thinks he is going to have a choice when the HOF comes calling, and he will go in wearing an Angels hat, but it’s not his decision.
Today, Pujols had his wife, Deidre, come on Joy FM (99.1), and talk his BS for him. Here’s a link to that story. The Pujols family seems shocked that Cards fans are turning on them. That’s the price you pay when you mix God and money to the extent that Pujols did. You can’t say one thing, and then do the complete opposite, and expect the same love. Pujols having his wife come on the show to explain “their side of the story” is just as bad as Roger Clemens throwing his wife under the bus in front of Congress about steroids. Maybe that’s just me though.
I really am having a hard time understanding the fans that are as pissed off about Pujols being all about the money. The signs have been there for a long time, for those who cared to pay attention. The only thing that made people feel different is that Pujols hid behind God. He played it on the fans and the media, and most fell for it. Maybe God really was behind his decision to go to the Angels as the Pujols family prayed about it, the only thing I find funny is that God told him to go to the highest bidder. Deidre Pujols says if the Cards would have offered 10 years and $210 million, Albert would still be wearing the birds on the bat. She says the Cards never offered that much. How stupid do you think most Cards fans are, Deidre?
If anyone on here reads Bryan Burwell, he would have you think that the Cards only offered Pujols 5 years, and that the Marlins offered Pujols $275 million. I think if the Marlins offered Pujols $275 million, they would want that to be public so that their fans knew how hard they tried to get him. Instead, their president said they went to $201 million. Burwell is just another Bill Dewitt Jr. basher for Dan Lozano, and if you read him enough, you’ll understand that. The same can be said for Bob Nightengale.
If God did have an interest in baseball, why doesn’t he ever tell the best players in the game to go to one of the worst teams who offer the least amount of money? Wouldn’t that get people to really believe in God and the player more? While I’m trying to be a little funny, I’m pretty sure I read in the bible before that greed and evil go hand in hand. I’m a hypocrite like most of us, why can’t Albert just admit he is as well?
Of course Pujols was all about the money. Most players are, and that’s their right. What makes Pujols different is that he went out of his way time and time again to say that it wasn’t about the money, and then went to the highest bidder before actually meeting him. The line Pujols gave for that was that he could tell that the Angels were more “committed” based on a 30 minute conversation with owner Arte Moreno.
I’ve read everything from people wanting to piss on the Pujols statue to starting a petition to ban Albert Pujols Family Foundation, as well as the strong belief that his number should not be retired and should be handed out immediately. The only people who should feel this way are the ones who believed Pujols in the first place. The best thing I read was this piece below by Jeff Pearlman of cnnsi.com.
Here’s the beginning of the article from Pearlman:
The liberation of St. Louis begins now.
“Albert Pujols is leaving the city and you are free, dear people, to speak the truth. No longer do you have to cower. No longer do you have to worry about stern looks and furious retorts. No longer do you have to tiptoe around the mighty slugger and his Ruthian numbers, fearful that he might say to hell with riverboat casinos and go elsewhere, someplace warmer. No longer do you have to mindlessly utter the Cardinal company lines about all of Pujols’ charity work and family life and what a wonderful person he is.”
“With Thursday’s news that Pujols has agreed to a 10-year, $254 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Cardinals officials, players and fans are finally permitted say what has gone unsaid far too long — that Albert Pujols is a pain in the rear.”
Almost everything Pearlman writes is classic Pujols from what I’ve seen. Living on the east coast for years, I would frequently catch Cards games in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. I normally stayed for a series, and went to the games when the ballpark opened an hour and a half before a game to check out the stadiums and watch BP. Not once did I ever see Pujols sign an autograph for a little kid. Players like Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, Larry Walker, Jason Isringhausen, Matt Morris and other big names always seemed to get it, and make time for the Cards fans, especially the kids. Not Pujols. While asked to not be named, a teammate of Pujols apparently asked Pujols for an autographed bat for his son, and was given one from Pujols, but Pujols had to make sure it wasn’t going to end up on E-bay before doing so.
You can’t make this shit up.
Anyone who has ever been to the Cards Winter Warmup, I would love for someone to send me a pic of Pujols with a smile on his face. I have yet to see one. Let’s also remember that Pujols held out on the Cardinals having a team signed WS ball, because he wanted too much money to do it. I intended to go on and on about these things, but just jump over to Cards Talk on Stltoday.com and check out the comments for yourself. Even Bernie Miklasz commented in Bernie’s Pressbox about what an asshole Pujols was without actually using those words, but said nobody wanted to hear that as long as he was in St. Louis, so he didn’t write about it. Here is today’s story from Bernie, titled: Poor Albert had no choice.
Instead of doing this however, I’m going to look forward to the 2012 team. As far as me being a Dewitt apologist, think again. I’m not going to be happy unless the Cards invest the money they would have spent in Pujols on other players. They got off to a great start by bringing back Furcal. With Allen Craig out for the first few months, I’m expecting Carlos Beltran, Michael Cuddyer or Josh Willingham to be in the mix. I have faith it will get done. With Cuddyer having played a lot at 2B, I think he’ll be the one. Beltran’s OBP and power would be nice, but I really like Cuddyer because of the things he can do defensively. When Craig comes back, the Cards would finally have a power bat at 2B.
Again, the future of the Cardinals is very bright. I’m very excited I don’t have to start comparing Pujols against other HOF players who failed miserably in their mid to late 30’s. Maybe most of you can look at it with an open mind now and realize Pujols decision really is the best thing for the Cardinals, and aside from the steroid era, there’s about 100 years of proof. If anyone comes back with a Babe Ruth comparison, try to remember that Pujols has never hit more HR’s than an entire league, and never won 94 games as a pitcher first as well. Also, the Cards aren’t dumping Pujols when he’s 24 like the Red Sox did Ruth. Pujols turns 32 in January, and the Cardinals didn’t dump him, he dumped them.
Here’s the thoughts from Jordan Stone:
The Psychology of Pujols’ Exit…
As we approached this offseason, one of the things that most bothered me was the knowledge that should the unlikely occur, and Pujols was to sign elsewhere, a segment of the Cardinal fan population was going to, for lack of a better phrase, show their ass much like the fans of Lebron James did in Cleveland. This is something I dreaded. I dreaded it because, just as much as I know that we DO have great fans here in St. Louis, I’ve spent enough time reading blog posts and sitting in the seats at Busch to know that we also have a lot of idiots who root for this team whose understanding of the inner workings of a baseball game or a personal decision are about as deep as a kiddie pool.
As I sit here nearly a week after Pujols announced his exit, I still find it hard to believe that Albert Pujols will not be a St. Louis Cardinal next season. At the same time, I respect his decision. He’s earned the right to make it. So if Albert Pujols did nothing wrong, why are Cardinals fans so pissed at him? To find this answer, you must look into the pages of history – and you must be one who understands that Roy Hobbs isn’t fiction, and that baseball really is magic.
We (the fans) wanted our superhero. My grandparents (and even my parents to some degree) grew up listening to Stan the Man on the radio. I grew up listening to them tell me about Stan the Man – the greatest Cardinal. Everyone wants something to believe in, and for most of us who believe in the magic of baseball, that thing was Albert Pujols. When Pujols signed with the Angles, many lashed out – pulling support from the Pujols Foundation, threatening to take down a statue, and burning his jerseys. Many called him greedy, called him a liar, and said he was selfish.
Here’s the truth – we are lashing out at the greatest player of a generation – a player who helped bring us eight playoff appearances in eleven years. A player who helped us win three National League championships and two World Series titles – and we are lashing out NOT because he did something wrong, but rather because WE wanted more of the magic. We wanted to see 3000 hits, 500, 600, 700 home runs – and we wanted to see those things done in a Cardinal uniform. Now we don’t get to, and we are hurting because of that. I don’t think our pain has to do with the product on the field. Our team is still better than theirs. Our offense is still better than theirs – and it’s better with a payroll $60 million less than theirs.
We also get told all of the time here in St. Louis that players should be willing to take less money to play here because we are so wonderful. How many of you would take a 20% pay cut to go work someplace else? Some would — but not many. We wanted to believe that we as fans were so special that surely Pujols wouldn’t leave us. But he did – and I’m okay with that. I’m hurting too, but we’ll all be fine.
I do think, if there’s a criticism of the Cards organization here, it’s that they need to take a long look at how they proceed with players. While it has been normal over the years for some players to take a below market value contract to play for us, it has also been normal over the years for players to suggest that the way the Cardinals organization dealt with them was like they were a piece of property rather than a human being. I have no idea what the inner workings were of the Pujols deal, and no one ever will. But Pujols is saying a lot of the same stuff other players have said. When Albert’s wife is quoted as saying, “I don’t want Albert to be a possession. He’s a man” the suggestion is clear – the Cardinals came across as the shrewd businessman looking to make a deal – a used car salesman if you will. I have no idea what sort of guy Arte Moreno is, but he’s either a lot smoother than DeWitt, or just better at b.s. Time will tell which one it is.
In the end, of all the things I’ve read the last few days, two things I’ve encountered stand out to me the most. One was a column that simply pointed out that the Cardinals paid $114 million for Pujols best eleven years, and the Angles were going to pay $254 million for his ten worst. The other, and I’ll leave you with this, was from a tweet by David Freese – a tweet that I echo with enthusiasm, “Blessed to have played and won a world series with Albert. Now it’s time to win one without him.” Amen David…let’s go to work.