Thank You Albert Pujols

Ironically enough, it would seem as though the St. Louis Cardinals have a guardian angel watching over them.

In a coup that would have made William of Orange proud, the Los Angeles Angels residing in Anaheim snatched Albert Pujols for a cool $254 million. The 31-year-old spurned not only his hometown Cardinals but also the Miami Marlins who had reportedly offered him a tax-free $275 million (although the Marlins have denied this figure). The coup was a shock to the baseball world and most importantly the Cardinal fan base that have had the pleasure of watching one of the most consistent players in MLB history for the past decade. At this point, it would make sense for Cardinal fans to feel dejected or betrayed.

They shouldn’t. Instead, they should be thanking Albert Pujols.

Albert Pujols has done more than his fair share for the St. Louis franchise and with his departure to the Angels in this Christmas season, he is just the gift that keeps on giving for the Cardinals.

It isn’t news to anyone that Albert Pujols is already on the decline. He is coming off the worst season of his MLB career, posting a line of .299/.366/.906 to go along with a 5.4 bWAR, also the worst of his career. The last two seasons have seen his numbers drop significantly across the board. Hardly a good sign for a power hitter on the wrong side of 30.

Speaking of 30, the Angels should have considered talking to Donald Trump before they went ahead and signed Pujols. No one definitively knows Fat Albert’s age and even though his official birth date, January 16, 1980, tells us that he is 31 years of age, there is much speculation that Albert could be at least a couple of years older. As we know of course, those Dominican’s can be about as honest with their ages as Lindsay Lohan in a jewellery store.

Pujols’ undetermined age and declining numbers don’t necessarily mean that he will steadily decline year after year. However, I bet the guys in Vegas aren’t giving him the best odds to stay consistent into his mid 30’s. Assuming that he will be less than spectacular for the majority of his future time in an Angel’s uniform is a pretty easy thing to do given the evidence.

Related: To Sign or Not To Sign?

$254 million is a lot of money over 10 years. $25.4 million a year in fact. $25.4 million doesn’t seem like too much when your guy is mashing. $25.4 million seems like a lot more when the only mashing your superstar is doing is with the Idaho potatoes in his kitchen.

$100 million contracts rarely work out. The Angels have possibly the worst contract in baseball on their roster. They are still paying Vernon Wells for 3 more years at over $20 million per season (minus the $5 million eaten up by the Blue Jays). Now they have added almost another $20 million with the acquisition of C.J. Wilson.

And here I was thinking the Miami Marlins were the next franchise in line to fill the shoes of the New York Mets.

The only precedent the Angels, Cardinals and Marlins were able to look back and gather information upon is Alex Rodriguez’s most recent 10 year $275 million soon-to-be debacle of a contract. A-Rod is on the serious decline but, not surprisingly, that didn’t deter any of Pujols’ potential suitors. Rodriguez’s 3.6, 3.2 and especially ugly 2.7 bWAR in his last 3 respective seasons are a clear indication of age and injuries getting the best of him. That, and steroids.

Superstars are mortals. Albert Pujols will inevitably decline. It may not be this season, or next season, or the next but it will happen. It will happen soon enough to overshadow virtually any beneficial production that Pujols would have provided the Cardinals with. Unless a World Series is in the not too distant future for Pujols and the Angles, this contract will be a disaster.

The Cardinals got lucky.

They are fortunate to have avoided a contract that would no doubt have had their hands tied in a nice sheepshank for what would have felt like an eternity. The split wasn’t mutual but the St. Louis Cardinals now have a fresh start on the heels of losing their Hall of Fame manager and star first baseman.

Sometimes a fresh start is exactly what a franchise needs.

Cardinal’s GM John Mozeliak better make sure he has Albert Pujol’s new address. He ought to send him a Christmas card with a big thank you and maybe a few x’s and o’s.

While he’s at it, he might as well put one in the mail for Jerri Dipoto too.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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To Sign or Not To Sign?

Is Albert Pujols worth $30 million?

It is no surprise that going into a contract year St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols is looking to cash in after another season of remarkable consistency. It was reported by Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman earlier today that Pujols is seeking Alex Rodriguez type money to become baseball’s first real 30 million dollar man. A-Rod signed his massive 10 year $275 million contract in 2007 at the age of 32, while Pujols will be 31 when his contract runs out next season. Pujols’ extraordinary ability to perform at such a consistent level on a year-to-year basis mean it is inevitable that he gets a contract in the A-Rod range, but the team that signs him may be regretting the decision in the years to come.

In his 10 year career, Albert Pujols has never had a season in which he has hit below .300 or had fewer than 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s. You can draw parallels to Ichiro Suzuki’s consistency, who just had his 10th straight 200 hit season, except on a much more power oriented scale. The problem that the Cardinals face is that they are being forced into paying best player in baseball money for a player who most likely will not continue his reliable consistency in his late 30’s and early 40’s.

Going into the 4th year of his 10 year deal, the Yankees are already seeing the drawbacks on this type of risky deal for Alex Rodriguez. In comparison to A-Rod’s prime years, there has been a significant drop off in the power numbers. He has gone from 40 and 50 plus homers to 35, 30 and 30 home runs respectively in each of his past 3 seasons. The more alarming stat though is that in the last 3 years Rodriguez’s average has dropped from .302 to .286 and finally a very mediocre .270 in 2010.

If you don’t buy all the crap coming out of A-Rod’s mouth then these numbers could partly be attributed to his lack of those naughty performance enhancers. With that being said though, we can see that Pujols should not have to undergo this type of drop off in his numbers at least due to non-natural causes, as he has never been and I hope never will be linked to steroids.

However, if what I have just said has absolutely nothing or only partly to do with Alex Rodriguez’s recent statistics then we can most likely attribute it to age. Well, isn’t that what we always do when we see a decline in an “older” player’s numbers?

Even though it is incredibly cliché to attribute the plunge of an “older” player’s game to age, it is no doubt a very logical reason. Albert Pujols most likely won’t be seeing a drop off in his statistics anytime soon but when he starts hitting his mid 30’s there is a good chance that he won’t be worth the $30 million or whatever he ends up signing for.

The thing is, if you have a team that doesn’t mind paying the luxury tax, dishing out extra cash for undeserving players, or just flat out being cash strapped then I don’t see this as a problem. However, if your team is not the New York Yankees then the signing of someone of Pujols’ stature should strike you as a major issue.

What happens when you have a $30 million franchise player who suddenly isn’t producing the way you would hope?

This isn’t going to be a short-term problem for the team that signs Pujols, but make no mistake, this is going to be a long-term issue and the St. Louis Cardinals front office better take a long hard look in the mirror before deciding to take on Pujols for possibly 10 more years.

Do St. Louis Cardinal fans want 38-year-old Manny Ramirez production for $30 million a year?

I didn’t think so.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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