Pitchers and catchers finally reporting this past weekend can only signal one (or two) things. Baseball is almost almost back, no matter what that groundhog saw. And that the Cardinals are running out of time to re-sign a man who may go down as the best player of our generation. In fact, they are down to 13 hours and 30 minutes according to my clock (I’m guessing it will be less than that by the time anyone sees this). Granted, players have set “deadlines” in the past only as smoke and mirrors to give themselves leverage but Pujols is hardly just “another player.” Heck, he is hardly a human at all most of the time. He has shown his true colors too many times to count throughout his ten year career. That is usually not a compliment you would pay to someone but, again…hardly human. Everything from actually running his charity rather than just having his name on the letterhead to stopping a game to assist a father who fell on his face while chasing a foul ball for his downs syndrome son, Pujols has continued to show his larger than life character. I, for one, don’t see this contract negotiation showing anything different.
It’s hard to find fault from either side of these particular negotiations, too. From Pujols’ camp, of course they want 10 years and the biggest dollar amount in the history of the world. From the Cards’ side, he is (listed as) 31 already. Ten years down the road is a lot to commit to. There are a lot of variables that go into playing that long. There is a reason that we know all of the names of players who kept their production levels high when they hit the big four-oh. Because they are the exception. Not the rule. But…for the third time…Albert Pujols is hardly human. There seems to be a theme developing here.
Now it is time to put my emotions back into this debate. If the team does give him the, reported, 10 year $300 million contract that he wants, who in the world will blame them if he gets hurt halfway through the 9th year of the contract? Or if he hits .299 with 29 HRs and 99 RBIs in year 8 of the deal? Not me. Some will but those people will complain no matter what happens. They will continue to call for new management because “MO is just a greedy, good-for-nothing moron.”….On the other hand, who is going to blame the front office if they fail to get a deal done and Pujols goes to, oh I don’t know…the North side of Chicago this November? EVERYONE! A hundred years from now when the “lovable loser” title belongs to the once powerful St Louis Cardinals, our great grand children will look back and point to these negotiations as the reason for the demise of the organization and city. This could hurl St Louis down with the likes of Cleveland before you have time to turn around three times and give a good “CHARGE” cheer.
Maybe that is being a little too emotional. However, I do not see the platoon of Lance Berkman and Jason LaRue providing quite the production that Albert Pujols offers. I have been wrong before, though. They could always bring back Chris Duncan, too, I guess.
Unfortunately, as it stands at the current moment, it appears that we as Cardinal fans will be left with these fears for 8 or 9 long months to come. Unless, of course, this was all just a big publicity stunt and there is a deal ready to be signed already.
Hey, it could happen.