Thursday, December 8, 2011

Albert Pujols Is Who We Thought He Was...

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So I guess my wish of Albert Pujols coming to Philadelphia is null and void.  Nuts.

Pujols agreed to a ten year, $254 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County of California and thus completely removed any semblance of the bright eyed this-guy-is-different-than-the-rest mentality that seemed to surround him for most of his career in St. Louis.

He's now a mercenary, pure and simple.

Now, before anyone jumps on me for that particular use of a loaded term such as 'mercenary', allow me to state that there isn't anything wrong with that, per se.  As one of the greatest players ever, he certainly has the right to sell his services to the bidder of his choosing. Notice, however, that I didn't say 'highest bidder', especially since Pujols didn't accept the allegedly higher deal the Miami Marlins were offering (supposedly $275 million).  The Cardinals were offering around $220 million, which is certainly not chump change by any stretch of the imagination.  With all that said about Pujols' right to do what he will in choosing his employer, let's mention a couple of other things...

1) Pujols took more money in Anaheim over staying in St. Louis, but he has thrown away the opportunity to be a local god and the greatest player in the history of the Cardinals franchise - greater than Musial, Hornsby, or Gibson.  That's his decision, and so be it, but money doesn't buy happiness and love, and he would have had the latter forever, and that kind of adoration in a hometown is priceless.

2) Can we please, please stop saying the Cardinals 'lowballed' Pujols?  $220 million to do any job is not 'lowballing' in any meaningful sense.  It is an insult to people who actually do get lowballed in their professional lives.  The Cardinals in some ways may actually be breathing a sigh of relief; Pujols will be thirty-two years old this coming season and ten years is a loooooong time.  Almost a year ago, I stated in these pages that I would go no longer than eight years for someone who is at his age.  I would bet that he doesn't play out the whole contract.  Time will tell...

3) The spin coming out is that Pujols 'took less money' to sign with the Angels.  It seems to me that this is an attempt to be Cliff Lee redux - from the whole 'mystery team' thing to this (idiotic) notion that he was leaving money on the table.  I had hoped the Phillies would be the mystery team again, but 'twas not to be.  I think Pujols and co. knew that the Marlins would be having a fire sale within 3-4 years anyway, and the Angels are a much more stable place to play with a big market and people who, you know, actually care about baseball.

I look at Pujols' signing and remind myself that the fundamental nature of Major League Baseball is that of a business.  A lot of people are upset, especially in St. Louis, but many fans of the sport are upset as well, because they truly believed that Albert Pujols was the final bulwark against the total immersion of the mercenary player; that he was a throwback to an era of loyalty to one team.  That mirage has been completely destroyed and the pieces have been vacuumed up.  Pujols is now just another guy who can hit a baseball very well.  

And that doesn't sit well with more than a few people.

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