From The Odd Couple
The deadline that the Pujols camp set for contract discussion has come and gone without a deal being struck. What will come of it? Do you honestly think the two sides will simply not continue to talk about and extension from now until the end of the regular/post-season? Psssh, please! The Cardinals need Pujols, and Pujols wants the Cardinals.
I understand the deadline set by the Pujols camp, who wants to have to answer the same stupid questions asked by the media at spring training every day for a month and into the regular season? No body, while the players say it is not a distraction, they’re right. It’s not and it shouldn’t be. I highly doubt Matt Holliday or Chris Carpenter are thinking about Pujols’ contract when their in the box or on the mound. That’s ridiculous.
One of the dumbest questions the media poses in every contract situation in every sport. Boooorrrrrrrrrring!
Pujols knows he’ll get paid, and sure he’d rather have had this thing signed, sealed and delivered before spring training begins, it’s a security thing. It’s knowing what ball field he’ll show up to for the rest of his career, what school he’ll send his kids to, what street he turns on to go home every night. I get it.
But Pujols, errrr, his agent are trying to make this guy bigger than the game, they want to set a bar. There’s a new sheriff in town, and he doesn’t wear lip stick.
I know, it’s a lot of economics and red tape and players and agents that came before them that set the bar etc.
But, take for instance Alex Rodriguez, Scott Boras got him the largest contract in history at the time in 2007. A 10 year $275 million deal. Since then, A-Rod’s numbers have not been the same, he hasn’t hit 40 HR’s since, he has hit .300 or better just once, Ops is down, batting average is down, among other significant stats are all down. Most important though, the amount of games played are down. Prior to signing the gigantic contract in 2007, A-Rod had played in at least 154 games the previous 7 seasons, since he signed the new contract, he has missed at least 24 games each of the past 3 seasons.
A-Rod was 31 years old when he signed, what will be his last big contract. Pujols, is 31 years old right now, looking for a better deal, and rightfully so, he’s a better player.
But, this is where it becomes so complex for me. MLB has no salary cap, if your team has money to spend (NYY) then spend it! And some do without thinking twice about it. A player, like Pujols, like A-rod, does set the bar for those that will be looking to sign contracts after them. That doesn’t make it fair for the ball club. The Cardinals, say they don’t have the resources to sign Pujols to a long-term deal worth what he’s asking, yet, we are talking about one of the most successful teams in MLB over the last decade, that’s done it with a relatively modest payroll, compared to the rest of baseball.
From 2000 to 2010, the Cardinals made the playoff’s 7 times, went to the world series twice, won once (2006 over the Tigers). In 2000, their payroll was $63 million, they made the playoffs. In 2010, their payroll was $95 million, they missed the playoffs last season. Not once during the last decade had they ever had a payroll of more than $90 million, last year was the first, this upcoming season, their opening day payroll is expected to be around $104 million. A strong favorite to win the NL Central in my opinion.
How can a team, with that type of success, with that payroll for a decade, in one of the best baseball city’s in the USA, say they don’t have the resources to pay Pujols? Forbes magazine had the Cardinals valued at around $430 million in 2010. Bill Dewitt Jr. bought the team in 1995 for $150 million!!!
Does it make any sense to you?
I’ll answer for you. No. It makes no sense at all. But, here’s the kicker, if you’re the cardinals, you have a chance to do one of two things.
Pay Pujols what he wants, make him the highest paid player in history, keep one of the most identifiable Cardinals of all-time in your city, with your ball club and run the risk of…1) maybe never making it back to/win a world series (Pujols contract will no doubt hamper the flexibility of what they’ll be able to do in free agency in years to come)…2) Paying Pujols an estimated $30 million per, the final 2-3 years of his contract, when he’s 39, 40 and 41 years old ( Hamstrung type of deal for the ball club, unless you think Pujols will be playing like a $30 million a year ball player).
Tough decision. But, If you must pay the man his money, because it’s what the market calls for, for a guy that produces like he does, do it to with fewer years and more money per year on the contract. ( I wouldn’t do it, because I am not convinced we will ever see a player produce to a similar type of level as Pujols is now at 37 years or older).
Just going by the “market”, and what standard players ( A-Rod, Ryan Howard) before him have set, Pujols should be the highest paid player in the game, the numbers prove it, the production proves it. A-Rod gets $27 million a year, Ryan Howard gets $25 million a year, they haven’t done what Pujols has done! Not close!
But is it the cardinals responsibility to make Pujols the highest paid player in the game OR is it their job to do whats best for their ball club in the future? Can the Cardinals do both?
The answer is yes. But a 10 year contract should be out of the question, and really, I think at the end of it all, the Cardinals will be one of the hamstrung ball clubs like the Astros are now with an aging, pleasantly plump, “used to be” stuck in LF (Carlos Lee, DUH!).