I am sad today. I am sad for the St. Louis Cardinals, I am sad for the National League, but most of all I am sad for Major League Baseball. Albert Pujols has been the best player in baseball for several years. I would argue he is better than Alex Rodriguez who still holds the mark for the largest contract in baseball history.
$254,000,000 over 10 years. If Pujols is 31 years of age, I doubt he can be even marginally effective for the life of this contract. This means the Angels have mortgaged their future for the short term prospect of finally dominating the Los Angeles baseball market after a year of listening to the soap opera that is the LA Dodgers.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Edmund Burke is purported to have said this in the 18th century but it is still true today. One of my happiest days as a Reds fan was February 12, 2000 when Ken Griffey Jr. stepped to the microphone and celebrated his return home to Cincinnati.
In hindsight, this trade and the 9 year $112 million contract for a 29 year old superstar doomed the Reds for the length of the contract. Sir Albert is 2 years older, and the same writing may be on the wall for the Angels. Griffey played 11 years prior to the trade, amassing 398 home runs, 1063 runs scored, and 1152 RBI. Pujols has collected 445 home runs, 1291 runs and 1329 RBI. Griffey played 140 games or more in 10 of 11 seasons, while Albert has reached the 140 game plateau every one of his 11 seasons. History shows that Griffey played 11 more seasons and only reached 140 games 3 times the rest of his career due to injuries and ultimately diminished capacity. I do not believe the Angels can win beyond a 3-4 year window starting now before Albert’s body begins to break down.
For St. Louis, I am certain the betrayal is crushing. In particular I feel remorse for Adam Wainwright, who missed the joy of being part of the championship team in 2011 and now will face the future with a new contract but without either Tony LaRussa or Albert on the field. Pujols is the iconic representation of St. Louis baseball and it is sad he will no longer stand at first base for the Red Birds.
ESPN analysts have suggested that with Pujols gone, his agent Dan Lozano may now return to the Cardinals boardroom and offer up another free agent star in his stable, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Only time will tell, but I hope the Cardinals slam the door in Lozano’s face for spurning their imminently fair contract offer.
I have always admired Albert Pujols. I will never watch him play again as I no longer accept the comment that “This was just business.” For Cardinal fans, this was personal.
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