Now that we start a new era in Cardinal baseball, we've got to move on to new topics, new thoughts, new arguments. But before we do that, there are still a few loose ends from yesterday that need to be addressed.
As always, there seem to be two sides to what actually happened. I watched John Mozeliak's press conference yesterday and, besides being impressed with his demeanor and his sarcastic streak (something I assume you have to develop when the press corp includes Joe Strauss), picked up on the fact that the Cards had really extended themselves to a place where they were getting "uncomfortable" and they never heard the Angels' offer, not that it mattered. So there was no "this is where we are, can you match it" from Pujols' camp, which Mozeliak put down to professionalism by not forcing the issue. That's a bit more charitable reasoning than I'd like to give them credit for. It would seem that, if you really wanted to stay somewhere, you'd at least let them know what they were up against.
Then again, it may have gotten to where Pujols didn't want to be here anymore. We heard some talk earlier in the year about the relationship between him and the organization being strained, and the story in USA Today about the way everything went down may have confirmed that. It quotes Don Mattingly as saying Pujols was frustrated with the organization and apparently had been wanting a deal for the last couple of years.
Flip side of that is that Bernie Miklasz indicated that Dan Lozano and Pujols had set the bar at Alex Rodriguez-levels (10 years, $275 million) to get a deal done early. If that's the case, it's not surprising that nothing got done. No team is going to give away a deal like that without some market pressures coming to bear. (Apparently the Marlins were going to give him that deal, but he turned it down due to the no-trade clause, the Marlins' lack of winning tradition and the problems that might be coming in the clubhouse.)
Also, if it's true that the Cards took their January offer off the table in these negotiations and tried to replace it with deals of a shorter length, I wouldn't fault Albert for being kinda twerked. You are coming off a World Series, a Series in which you had one of the legendary performances in Game 3 and helped start the Game 6 rally. The numbers were down slightly but you also missed two weeks--and just two weeks, hurrying back to the team--with a broken wrist. That's not exactly the best way to show some respect, and we know that Albert is all about respect.
Financially, Pujols is a winner. I think he's lost something special, the chance to retire as the second-greatest Cardinal of all time, just behind Stan Musial and slightly ahead of Bob Gibson. That's all gone now. And maybe that's the way it should be. Now that Pujols has gone to Cali, Musial will permanently own all of the important franchise records. Pujols can't touch them now.
Pujols willingly gave up his spot as one of history's inner circle Cardinals and will be viewed as just another athlete.
Angels fans will go crazy for Pujols, but he'll never be loved the way he was loved in St. Louis. When he gets old and breaks down, he'll never receive the level of empathy that would have come his way in St. Louis.
That's where we stand. I think some of the anger and betrayal will fade, has faded to some degree for me. I don't know that Albert gets a standing ovation whenever the Angels might come into Busch, I don't know that he's going to be that welcome to all the ceremonies with the Hall of Famers after he retires. I don't know if they should issue his number in the next year or so or keep it in semi-retirement until he goes into Cooperstown. These things will just take time, time to see if the disappointment and hurt fades and we can appreciate what he did in St. Louis.
Two last things: As I Tweeted yesterday, if you can turn down $200+ million and a personal phone call from Stan Musial asking you to stay, there's not much more you can say about it. However, Cardinal John over at The Cardinal Virtue has done a great job of putting this scenario to a verse structure you may be familiar with. Head over here and check it out!
Now the Cardinals have to go forward, and thankfully they don't have many holes to fill. Lance Berkman will move to first and, when healthy, Allen Craig can play in the outfield. However, with Craig out until mid-May (assuming the Cardinal history with injuries doesn't come into play and he's actually out all year long) the team probably will be looking for some outfield help.
Carlos Beltran's name will likely float out there for a while. Beltran on a one-year deal might make some sense for the Cards. Craig was going to have to scrap together at-bats with a Pujols return anyway, so I think with two guys (Berkman and Beltran) in more advanced baseball age, there'd be a lot of opportunities for him to give them some rest. Throw Matt Holliday into the picture and I think Craig could get close to full-time status.
Not surprisingly, Ryan Theriot is probably going to be non-tendered in the next couple of days. You'd have to be someone that hasn't followed the Cards at all to be surprised at that. I still think the club is pretty set with Tyler Greene, but Rafael Furcal is running out of chairs in the game of musical shortstops, so it's possible the Cards will bring him back. I know I'm in the minority, but I'd still like to see what Greene would do on an everyday basis.
Other than that, what's for the Cardinals to do? The rotation is full, though I guess if you could trade for someone, the extra money the club has would help them eat part of Kyle Lohse or Jake Westbrook's contract. The bullpen is stocked, though they still would like to see another lefty down there. The lineup is pretty much taken care of. The Cards aren't likely to spend their "Pujols dividend" all in one place and all at one time.
It's Day 1 of a new era. That doesn't mean we're starting from scratch.
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These
awards can be found at the official site in October with links back to the voters,
ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball