I promise, I'm not going to harp on Albert Pujols from now until the beginning of the season. Odds are, this will be one of the last entries on him, but since he was introduced this weekend as an Anaheim Angel, it seems still relevant.
In an interview after putting on the Angels jersey for the first time, Pujols seemed to be hurt with how negotiations went in St. Louis and really torn about leaving there. If you take it at face value--which some are understandably not--there seems to be more blame on the organization than was originally thought. The biggest thing to me was the reluctance for a personal services contract on the back end of his deal.
Why, exactly? The first time I remember hearing about such deals was in Ozzie Smith's book Wizard, when he extracted one from the Cardinals. (As an aside, I wonder how that one worked out given Ozzie's legendary feud with Tony La Russa. Did he just do things for the Cards away from the ballpark? Did they just pay him and he didn't really do much? I don't know.) It seems to me that it'd been a slam dunk to give Albert one of these. Assuming he signed it, he'd have spent his whole career in St. Louis and you know the club was going to want to trot him out there every chance that they got.
Anaheim gave him that and now he'll spend the next two decades working for the Angel organization. Which would seem to put the answer to whether Pujols will be around after he retires, showing up on Opening Day, hanging out in spring training, etc. There's a slim likelihood of that while he's employed with a competitor. And after two decades have passed, is there going to be a clamor to have him back? I don't know.
The quote that made the rounds on Twitter, though, was his comment that "I believe they will continue to love me in St. Louis."
Cardinal fans may like you. They may respect you. They may appreciate what you have done with the club and what you have done for the club.
Love, though? That ship has sailed.
It's tough to love a player that isn't in Cardinal red anyway. Occasionally players traded off can still have that, because at least fans can tell themselves that the player really didn't want to go. Scott Rolen probably still has a portion of the Cardinal Nation that loves him, even though he was ready to leave, because they took his side in the TLR feud. Other than that, though? There's not many.
It's basically impossible, though, to love a player that rejected the adoration he received from the fan base. Who took off after so many had supported him. Whatever the reasons, whether they were legitimate or phony, it doesn't matter. What matters is that after the sting of betrayal, there's not going to be any love. I appreciate what Albert did and I've come to terms with him leaving, but there's no love here for him anymore, I can tell you that much.
At about the same time the Pujols press conference was going on Saturday, the Cardinals made their first expenditure of the offseason, re-signing Rafael Furcalto a two-year contract.
There's no doubt that, for the most part, Furcal brought a stellar glove to the shortstop position. He made some errors down the stretch, though, that made you wonder if he was still working for the Atlanta Braves. With no obvious slick fielder in the fold, though, the attraction to Furcal was a pretty obvious one.
That said, I'm not sold on this deal, though I admit to selection bias. When I looked up Furcal's numbers, I was pretty shocked to see that he hit .255 for the Cards last year. It seemed so often that he was putting up 0-4 numbers in the leadoff spot, but I guess that didn't happen as often as I thought.
I think it's telling, though, that he did get dropped down in the lineup at points during his time in St. Louis. He's not walking as much, but he did have a pretty solid OBP in 2010 with the Dodgers. The club thinks that he can be better offensively than he was last year and, if the decline was in part due to injury and recovering from it, perhaps they have a point.
I'm not thrilled with two years because if the club is wrong, that's a bit of a burden on a team. $7 million per isn't an albatross, obviously, and the club has some payroll room, but it's the principle of the thing. Just because you have money doesn't mean you have to start throwing it around.
Especially when you already have Tyler Greene sitting there. Greene is out of options, so he has to be on the big league club this season. I can understand the argument of having him be the backup at short and second (which likely means no Skip Schumaker and probably no Nick Punto, though I wouldn't completely rule out the latter) and not putting your eggs in one basket, but I would have liked to seen what he'd have done handed the role.
All that said, it's not a deal that's worth getting worked up about. I'm not sure that it makes the Cards more than marginally better, but games are won in the margins and, as always, In Mo We Trust.
The Cards are also still in on another possibility, outfielder Carlos Beltran. I think Beltran would be the best answer to any lingering offensive problems in the wake of the Pujols defection. Beltran can play most any of the outfield positions and the team should still be able to juggle Allen Craig into the lineup without too much trouble. You can read more and better over at Viva El Birdos.
Today is the non-tender deadline, also known as "Ryan Theriot Is A Former Cardinal" day. We'll see what other decisions the Cards make today as well.
If you missed it, Episode 12 of Conversations With C70 went live this weekend. I got a chance to talk to former Cardinal pitcher P.J. Walters, so check it out!
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