I don’t think Albert Pujols is greedy, I think Pujols has every right to want to be the highest paid player in the game and in history. To put it plain and simple Pujols is the best player of this generation and in the last 50 years. His numbers rival legends, not just in the glamour categories of home runs and RBI, but in his low strikeout totals, high walks and on-base percentage. In an era of free swingers like Carlos Pena and Mark Reynolds he is the throwback to Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and the man he looks to pass as the greatest Cardinal of all-time Stan Musial.
He’s the most productive and most feared man in the game. His at-bats are methodical, his swings are calculated, and his results are on point. He’s what you want your kid to be like; patient, smart and powerful.
There’s competition in power but not in importance. I love Ryan Howard but he isn’t the hitter Pujols is. Adam Dunn matches his homeruns and walks, but towers him in strikeouts and isn’t close in average. Prince Fielder can drive in runs but isn’t the marketable player Pujols is and has attitude issues.
You can run them down the line, Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Morneau, Joey Votto… there are so many great first baseman in this generation, it reminds you of the shortstop revolution of the 90’s with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Omar Vizquel and Nomar Garciaparra to name a few.
You couldn’t go wrong with any of these guys at first because they all bring the wood and are the best players on their teams. However, none of them are Pujols. Pujols is the alpha dog of alpha dogs. He’s moved into the Michael Jordan class, he’s the guy that is the league MVP year after year unless someone else has a monster year and you feel bad for the guy because Pujols is so good (hi, Joey Votto). He’s the guy you want to be the cornerstone of your franchise. If there is a guy that deserves to be the highest paid player in the game it’s him.
However, here’s the problem even though you, me, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak and Chairman William Dewitt Jr. know all of this to be true…
Pujols is delusional. He wants a 10 year, 300 million dollar deal at the age of 31 to man first base for the rest of his career. Um, no,
As a Yankees fan I’ve seen these types of deals and the problems that they cause down the road. We’re going to be paying A-Rod 27.5 million dollars a year until he’s 42 and his production is already in decline and he’s only 3 years into the deal. We won’t be able to move him and pretty soon we’ll have a left side of the infield that can only be DH’s.
The Cardinals see this as a problem in signing Pujols to such a long deal. The odds of him continuing his all-time pace of .320/40+/120+ is silly at his age. Eventually he will fall off, and if he does, you don’t want to be paying him 30 million per year to watch him turn into Jason Giambi.
Pujols has to understand a few things about his situation; one, He plays in a mid-level market, two, this isn’t the early 2000’s were people shell out 120-180+ million dollar deals like hot cakes, three, does he really think he expects us to believe that these talks are done until next year and four, he risks hurting his legacy.
St. Louis is not New York, Boston or Los Angeles; the money has a limit in smaller markets and has to be used carefully. The Cardinals needed to get Pujols help in the lineup and they did that with Matt Holliday. Eventually they’ll need to sign Adam Wainwright to a long term deal, giving Pujols 300 million would hinder them in the long run and with The Reds and Brewers getting stronger and stronger with their moves the Cardinals need to keep pace.
Then there’s the issue of money. Pujols is worth 300 million dollars but St. Louis would be stupid to give it to him as well as ten years. The model for the deal that Pujols should be found in what was given to Ryan Howard last year. The Phillies were criticized for bidding against themselves in giving Howard the 5 year, 125 million deal, that they gave him most said that they were merely bidding against themselves and that if he’s worth 25 million then what’s Pujols worth?
However, the Phillies did a smart thing with the Howard deal. They knew potentially in free agency Howard would have asked for a longer deal for the same amount and it would’ve drawn interest from teams like the Dodgers, Angels and others. The Phillies would’ve faced losing Howard because there was no way the Phillies would have given him 7+ years and close to 200 million dollars, so they did the smart thing by making him the highest paid player for only 5 years. That way he gets his money and by the time he’s only capable of being a DH (not like he isn’t already. Sorry Ryan, I love you but defensively you’re middle of the road and that’s being nice.) The Phillies won’t have to worry about it.
The reasonable deal for Pujols is 6 years and 180 million. He gets his money and the length is reasonable for the Cardinals to work with. The problem is that you know the Angels, Dodgers; maybe the Braves will offer more money and years and put the Cardinals in a bind. Then the Cardinals will be forced to make a decision that could cripple their finances.
With that said, for Pujols to say that he won’t talk with the Cardinals until the end of next season is highly
laughable. If he gets the money that he feels is reasonable Pujols will sign in May, June or July. Talks are always ongoing, why do you think Carmelo Anthony is still considering signing with the Nuggets even though he’s made it clear he won’t? It’s a combination of leverage and leaving your options open.
Lastly Pujols need to be the highest player in league history could hurt his legacy in the sense of the damage that he could do that could prevent him from being the greatest Cardinal of all-time.
Behind the Yankees the Cardinals are the leagues other flagship franchise (no not the Dodgers, Cubs, or Red Sox). They are the only other franchise with double digit World Series championships (10). They have arguably the greatest pitcher (Bob Gibson) and shortstop (Ozzie Smith) in the hall of fame. Stan Musial is arguably one of the greatest hitters of all-time and recent received the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama yesterday… and Pujols could move past all of these guys into history with the leagues second greatest franchise.
He’s going to break countless records, win about four more MVP’s, get to 600 homeruns, 3000 hits and do it all in a Cardinals jersey. He’s their version of Derek Jeter, the face of the franchise now and possibly forever until another young kid comes along and put up the same numbers. What he should realize is that in some cases legacy is more than money. Fans don’t care about the money, they care about you. You represent them, their franchise, and their pride. Fans will talk about Pujols with great joy for years after he’s gone about his presence at the plate, his play in the field and his leadership. All of this matters to the people that pay top dollar everyday to watch you play especially when you’re in contention for a title yearly.
Pujols chase for the crown of the highest paid player could alienate that, especially if drives him away from St. Louis. It changes him forever, he goes from the greatest player ever to another greedy athlete with great numbers but who didn’t respect the game. Already with his self-imposed deadline passing media relations have reached out to see if the Yankees, with their deep pockets, will make a play for Pujols even though they are comfortable with Teixeira at first.
The game doesn’t need that. Cardinals fans don’t either. Pujols needs to get realistic and see the big picture for what it’s worth. 300 million dollars isn’t worth hurting your legacy even if you deserve it. Hopefully Pujols makes the right decision for him and baseball and doesn’t let the prize of being the wealthiest player in league history hurt becoming what matters most. He should be a Cardinal until he hangs em up; no amount of money is worth staining your legacy.