The Nooner #23: Albert Pujols is No Longer a Cardinal

Surreal.

Albert Pujols leaving the Cardinals via free agency was always a possibility, however unlikely it seemed. I thought the Cards would be in on the dollars side, but would balk at the years. Turns out the opposite was true. But before 2011 I was hoping for 7 years guaranteed +2 or 3 option years. In the NL, it is really, really hard to justify paying a 40+ player $20 million or more when he has to play in the field every day. But there are so many unknown details here, starting with AAV. If the Cards said they’d signed him for 10 years, $250 million starting with $30 million next year, a declining AAV, and the last two were $15 million options, I think I’d be on board. He’d still get the same amount of money; they wouldn’t be paying him as much in his last few years. Apparently the Marlins had the highest bid, which means that no trade clause was a really big deal. I can get behind that, too. Security is important. But that’s not all it was.

I think what really stings is the smoke he blew up all our asses: “I have money; it’s not about the money”…“Why would I want to play anywhere else?”…“I want to be like Stan Musial and be a Cardinal for life.” When you invoke the name of Stan Musial and phrases like “it’s not about the money” and “Cardinal for life” you’d better mean it. Clearly he didn’t. Today does not erase the last 11 seasons, either for his individual accomplishments or the team’s success. But some of that integrity and persona has been diminished with this news. He really was about the money. That in itself isn’t terrible; just be honest about it. Maybe the Marlins offered the most zeroes in front of the decimal, but if we’re comparing apples to apples, the Angels and Cards offered the same contract terms. The Angels’ trump card was more cash. The Cardinals’ trump card was baseball legacy/immortality. He took the bread.

I’m not really sure how to describe my feelings beyond the above. Maybe it will set in once I see Pujols 5 on the back of a LA Angels jersey. Maybe it will set in during the Winter Warm up or Spring Training when, for the first time in over a decade, Albert Pujols is nowhere to be found. But I didn’t really go into convulsions when Tony LaRussa retired, either. At the time I chalked it up to World Series Hangover. But that was over a month ago. An era has truly ended in St. Louis. Let’s hope the Cardinals don’t lapse into another odd-decade Dark Age. Looking at the rest of the roster, though, I really think they’re going to be OK. We all are.

–Chris

About ccr5150

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Posted on December 8, 2011, in Nooners and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Growing up a Yankee fan has its advantages, so this has never happened to me, but I’ve always wondered what it feels like to lose the face of the franchise. I don’t intend to sound mean or anything, but how does it feel?

    • It’s a lot easier to take now than it would have been 3-5 years ago. It’s also a lot easier to take a few weeks after winning the World Series. But it is pretty odd, especially watching the highlights from this postseason and knowing he’s gone forever. I don’t think the Cards should have given him a contract approaching what the Angels gave him. They simply don’t have the revenue to justify it. But they could offer the same legendary status as someone like Derek Jeter, and Pujols decided to make it more about business. I can’t fault him for that and I don’t hate him for it. But there are two sides to every story, neither of which we’ll ever know the entirety of. 2012 will be strange because it’s been so long since we saw a Cards team without Pujols. But the true impact to both him and the Cards’ franchise won’t be known for a few years.

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