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End Of An Era In St. Louis: Pujols Inks Deal with Angels
Posted By Chaz Ingram On Dec 8 2011 @ 3:20 pm In St. Louis Cardinals | No Comments
The Albert Pujols era in St. Louis has officially ended. The now former Cardinals’ slugger has inked an agreement with the Anaheim Angels for reportedly $250 million for 10 years. Now that it’s over people in Cardinals Nation can get back to their regularly scheduled lives as the Pujols saga has consumed most of them since the season ended.
Of course there are mixed emotions throughout the baseball world and particularly amongst St. Louis fans regarding Pujols‘ signing with the Angels. I’ve heard from several Cardinals’ fans since the deal was announced this morning and some have expressed bitterness over his leaving St. Louis to sign for more money when he stated at one point money was not a determining factor in his decision. Others expressed relief that the Cardinals held firm on their offer and refused to get into a bidding war over the future hall of famers’ services. Still, others are conflicted and not sure what to feel. 
While most in Cardinals Nation will struggle with placing their feelings regarding the loss of Pujols let me offer not necessarily my opinion, but simply food for thought on both sides of the fence that might ultimately help you to settle on an opinion of your own.
Let’s assume for a moment that the Cardinals resigned Pujols for $220 million over 10 years. Let’s also assume that Pujols continued to perform at his current level for only five or possibly six of the 10 years when he is 36 or 37. For a few reasons it still would have made perfectly good sense for Cardinals’ management to make that decision. The unproductive years could have easily been considered a repayment for what Pujols had accomplished when he was clearly underpaid (in 2004 he signed a $100 million contract.). And let’s face it an “unproductive” season for Pujols is considered a good year for most. The Cardinals would have retained their franchise player and would have continued to benefit from however many productive years he had left as well as his drawing power at Busch Stadium (although that will continue to happen in spite of his departure.) Pujols would have retired a St. Louis legend (and he still may) and a bronze statue would have been placed outside on the courtyards of Busch Stadium. 
Conversely, the Cardinals refusal to resign arguably the greatest player in team history makes very good sense. The chances that Pujols continues to play at his current level for five or six years is questionable let alone for ten years. Considering the statistics of the average ball player at 35 numbers usually drop drastically, and for many they fall totally off the radar. When you factor in injuries it could be a nightmare for a team to sign any player who is approaching his post prime era to an 8 years or more contract is simply bad business. A long term contract of that nature can drastically hinder a team’s ability to negotiate with other impact players.
Be encouraged Redbird fans the Cardinals will be just fine. Your frustration at the loss of perhaps the best hitter in baseball over the last ten years is understandable. But think about it, Pujols would have left at least $30 million dollars on the table had he signed with the Cardinals. Would you walk away from $30 million? I believe Cardinals’ management will continue to put a quality product on the field that will compete every year as we have come to expect. The current team is one that is very solid and has great potential to make another run at a championship next year. With pitcher Adam Wainwright set to return next year and the promising power of World Series MVP David Freese as well as the encouraging play of such players as Allen Craig and Lance Berkman this team is far from lacking. 
Not to discredit Pujols at all but keep in mind the Cardinals won the World Series Championship in 2006 when the three time NL MVP batted only .200. You might recall that a little guy by the name of David Eckstein was the MVP of that series as the Cardinals defeated the Detroit Tigers. This past season the Redbirds defeated the Texas Rangers in seven games to claim their eleventh World Series Championships and again someone not named Pujols won the MVP. Pujols batted batted only .240 in the series as third baseman David Freese, who was also MVP of the NLCS against Milwaukee put on a hitting clinic throughout the post season to establish himself as a perennial hitter in his own right. Pujols did however, put on a hitting clinic of his own in game three of the World Series that will not soon be forgotten.
Make no mistake about it Pujols will be missed in St. Louis. Aside from his baseball resume his involvement with the local community on various levels speaks volumes of his character as a man. He has always been gracious in his dealings with the media as well as Cardinals’ fans. Simply a class act.
With all of that said, Cardinals Nation will not only still live on, but will thrive in doing so.
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