What were you thinking, Albert?

Cardinal Nation is a sad, heartbroken place today. Albert Pujols, centerpiece of the St. Louis Cardinals for the past 11 years, face of the franchise and, in many ways, the city, has chosen to leave St. Louis and the only team he has ever played for to go to southern California and play instead for the Anaheim Angels (or Angles as apparently everyone on Twitter is calling them).

Why would he do that after saying repeatedly that he wanted to be a Cardinal for his whole career and that there was no better place to play than St. Louis? Why would he leave after winning a second World Series in St. Louis? I’m not sure anyone knows at this point. But here are a few thoughts:

Top Four Reasons Albert Made a Good Decision:

1. It’s a better contract. According to reports, the Marlins actually offered him a higher base salary, but they refused to include a no-trade clause. With bonuses (for things like winning the MVP, settings records, etc) his contract with the Angels could pay as much as $280 million. And he gets the no-trade clause.

2. The Angels owner wants to win. That isn’t to say that the Cardinals owner does not. But he is not willing to shell out whatever money it takes to do so. The Angels owner has no problem spending money to make his team better. And they are a great team. With the addition of Pujols and fellow free-agent signee C.J. Wilson, the Angels have become the favorite to win the AL next year.

3. The DH. It is only human to slow down as we get older. All ball players do. Some people believe that Albert is already declining (I am not one of them). At any rate, being in the American League gives Albert the opportunity to play longer at a higher level. He can take some days off in the field and play DH. The Angels have two other players who can play first base well, so there would be little or no drop-off for them defensively. And Albert could rest his back and arm and whatever ails him. And when he is 38 or 40 and can no longer be an everyday fielder, he can be the DH. That assumes, of course that his hitting will still be there.

4. Chasing records. While the Angels ballpark is similar to Busch Stadium in dimensions, some people feel that Albert will have more success in American League parks. It’s possible. It’s possible that being in southern California means that some of those early season long balls that fall short in St. Louis would be homers in Anaheim.

Top Four Reasons Albert Made a Lousy Decision:

1. Legacy. Albert has been the best player in baseball for several years now, and is already a legend in St. Louis. Finishing his career in St. Louis would have cemented his legacy as the greatest Cardinal ever (Stan Musial is again safely ensconced in that position). It would have put him in the class of players like Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken Jr. as franchise heroes. As it is now, he is simply another of the great players that once played for the Cardinals.

2. A winning team. The team is largely going to return the same players that last year won the World Series. In fact, they will be returning Adam Wainwright who will make the team even better. He had the chance to be part of a team that could win back to back World Series. That is extremely rare. Of course, there is no guarantee and with injuries and a new manager it’s possible the Cardinals don’t even make the playoffs. But the fact remains that the Cardinals always compete and are almost always in the hunt.

3. The fans. Albert knows that the St. Louis fans are the best in baseball. He has said it repeatedly. They are knowledgeable, they are faithful, they are true. St. Louis is a baseball town. Anaheim? Uh..not so much. So when Albert gets older and his $25 million plus a year is starting to look like a waste of money, Angels fans are not going to put up with it. In St. Louis they would. They would remember everything that he has done for the city and the team over his entire career, and they would cheer him even as his career winds down. He won’t get the kind of favor in Anaheim that he earned in St. Louis.

4. The Cardinal offer wasn’t that bad. Sure it was less than the Angels. But Albert himself said you’d have to be nuts to leave St. Louis just for a few million dollars a year extra. Was he upset with the way the negotiations went? Probably. And word is, he wanted to have a contract that put him in the same class as Alex Rodriguez’s contract. So that would have to be something in the $250 million range. But isn’t that just a matter of pride? Only Albert knows what his reasoning was, and it’s possible that there were other things going on in the negotiations that soured things. But from a contract standpoint, the Cardinals weren’t that far off.

December 8, 2011  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: Sports, St. Louis Cardinals

7 Responses

  1. anna - December 9, 2011

    aaaand it’s a baseball post. again. sheesh. didn’t you inflict enough suffering on us during baseball season?

  2. dan - December 9, 2011

    no.

  3. dan - December 9, 2011

    You’re going to love today’s post. Incidentally, here are four reasons I chose to write about baseball this week.

    1. I love baseball.
    2. the St. Louis Cardinals have been my team my entire life.
    3. Baseball’s winter meetings just ended, which is traditionally a time when some of the big name free agents are signed.
    4. The story that Albert Pujols, the best player in baseball and a Cardinal for his entire 11 year career, chose to take a contract with another team is the biggest story this year and probably of the past several years.

    That said, I am sorry you don’t appreciate baseball. When you start a blog you can write about fishing and we’ll be even.

  4. anna - December 11, 2011

    I would never write about fishing. While I am my father’s daughter, I am not my father.

  5. dan - December 12, 2011

    You say that now. But being your father’s daughter there would be a fishing trip and you’d be excited about the fish you (almost) caught, and you wouldn’t be able to help yourself.

  6. anna - December 13, 2011

    if I were to write such a post, it would be a single post. Not reoccurring fishing posts with no hope for respite on the horizon, as your baseball posts seem to be.

  7. dan - December 13, 2011

    Pobre cita.

    So in the last year, since December I have written 22 posts I logged under “St. Louis Cardinals.” There may have been one or two others that were loosely baseball related. But essentially that’s 2 a month.

    Since opening day last year (March 31), I have written 21 baseball posts. And over 200 posts total. So, something like 10% of the total have been baseball related. And some of those only loosely. And, keep in mind that had the Cardinals not made it to the world series, there would not have been a running commentary on those games. And since that does not happen very often, consider this year to be an anomaly. Next year there will (most likely) be at least 7 – 10 fewer baseball posts. On the other hand, if they do make the World Series, I will most likely do the same thing I did this year – and without apology.

    Keep in mind also that at my current pace, 20 stories on baseball would only be roughly 6% of the total. If the Cardinals don’t make it into the World Series next year (and why would they without Albert?), we’re looking at potentially only 3% – 10-12 stories out of some 350. Surely you can handle that, can’t you?

    Besides, 1 fish story is equal to like 5 baseball stories.

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