December 9, 2011 15 Comments
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.
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