I can’t blame Albert Pujols for taking 10 years, $254 million and a no-trade clause to go to a class organization like the Angels. That being said, he should’ve stayed with the Cardinals.
First I’ll say why it was the right move: When Pujols becomes unable to play the field, the Designated Hitter option will be there. That same option extended Vladimir Guerrero’s career quite a few years. Obviously no matter how much the Cardinals or Marlins offered, they would never be able to let him be a DH.
That’s where the positive aspects end. Here’s why it was the wrong choice:
A few Angels in flux:
There really isn’t a question about the Angels rotation, especially after adding C.J. Wilson to the stable of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. However, in the next few years, they’ll have some key players that will be a little too elder to produce. Torii Hunter is the proposed clean-up hitter and his arc is almost to the end. Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu are in the same spot. The Angels up-and-comers will fill in the gaps but they had 200 runs less than the AL West Champion Texas Rangers last season. With just a few years left in Pujols’ prime, the Angels need their offense running on all cylinders.
Some Lost Legacy:
I know this doesn’t really mean anything to anyone anymore, but by staying in St. Louis he would’ve been in the same breath as St. Louis greats Stan “The Man” Musial, Bob Gibson and Lou Brock. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll still get his number retired and probably get a statue outside the stadium, but there’s just something special about guys like Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr. staying on the same team their entire careers. Now Cardinal fans will view him as a sellout until the wounds heal – or forever.
Do you think Pujols tainted his legacy forever in St. Louis by leaving? Let me know your thoughts in the comments:
…or at least that’s what they’re making it look like. Before I go into my rant, I’m going to give a little background:
For the past seven seasons, the University of Rochester Yellowjackets and St. John Fisher College Cardinals, both from Rochester, N.Y., have played in an annual regular season football game called the Courage Bowl. All the profits from the game go to Camp Good Days and Special Times, a camp to support children diagnosed with cancer. As part of that, the kids got to meet all the players, get autographed jerseys and be on the sidelines during the game. The game this season raised $30,000.
According to an article by Jim Mandelaro of the Democrat and Chronicle, the University of Rochester is only going to play this game for one more year.
Personally, I don’t know if UR is contemplating dropping this game because they get trounced every year or because they are switching conferences (and therefore will have less non-conference games).
According to UR athletic director George VanderZwaag in Mandelaro’s article, it’s about switching to the Liberty League.
“We feel it is important to make some changes in our schedule and focus our energies on competing effectively within our own conference.”
To be perfectly honest, I don’t care what the reason is. They need to play this game A) because it helps the kids and B) its a great Rochester-area rivalry.
In an earlier article by Mandelaro, Camp Good Days founder Gary Mervis, a volunteer assistant coach for Fisher said he was “offended” by UR’s departure and that another opponent would be found.
Hopefully the next opponent realizes that this game is about much more than football.
Full disclosure: I’m an alumnus of Fisher and covered this game for my college newspaper when I was there. However, if Fisher tried pulling this, I would be ashamed and rip them even worse.
Update (11/2/11 – 11 AM MT): In response to tweets that I sent out this morning about UR, Camp Good Days replied (in 3 tweets):
Now that the World Series is over, the free agent frenzy begins. This offseason, there is not a bigger prize to be had than Albert Pujols. He has arguably had the best 10 years to begin his career as anyone…ever. Now the big question is where he will land for the 2012 season.
Before you can find out what team he’s going to choose, you have to know what he will have to choose from. Typically the big spenders in the past few years have been the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Mets and Dodgers. Just for the heck of it, we’ll toss the Nationals in there because they spent a stupid amount of money on Jayson Werth (.232, 20 HR, 58 RBIs in 150 games). That was totally worth it.
Automatically, we’ll throw out the Dodgers and Mets. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is going through a messy divorce and Mets owner Fred Wilpon was involved with the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme. Both of those things = no money. Wilpon will have a hard enough tiome trying to keep NL batting champ Jose Reyes let alone get Pujols.
The Red Sox and Yankees already have fantastic first basemen in Adrian Gonzalez (.338, 27 HR, 117 RBI) and Mark Teixeira (.248, 39 HR, 111 RBI), respectively. The Red Sox had an awful end to their season but I don’t think they’ll overreact by getting rid of a productive player like Gonzalez.
The Nationals are a sleeper team because of the ridiculous money they are willing to spend, but Pujols will not be willing to be the cornerstone of a team where he will not have a chance at another World Series ring.
That leaves the top two contenders: The Cubs have money to spend and are looking to make a splash with Theo Epstein, their newest executive, at the helm. The Cardinals are desperate to keep the face of their franchise in St. Louis.
The Cubs will likely offer Pujols huge money but there’s a few thing that come into play. One – he’d be going to the Cardinals biggest rival and tainting his legacy in St. Louis. Two – Pujols has said that he likes St. Louis and seems like the kind of guy that wants to stay with one team his whole career.
Pujols will be taking his talents back to the Gateway to the West, most likely with the Cardinals getting a hometown discount. The Cubs will get a very respectable “second place” by plucking Prince Fielder from the Brewers.
Epstein will be looking to make even bigger splashes in the Cubbie rotation. Personally, I can’t wait to see the match-ups next season between the World Series champs and what will likely be an upstart Chicago team.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.