The trade rumor that the Phillies discussed trading Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols made for some fun hypothetical talk today, but others were angry at the report. The trade is not going to happen and hasn’t even made it out of the Phillies front office, but now it is out in the open and the baseball world is paying attention. Here are some thoughts surrounding the rumor usually reserved for fantasy boards online.
-Pujols was calm after hearing the news. He wasn’t angry or upset or worried about the rumor. It was just another one to add to the list.
“You know, that’s not the first time,” Pujols said before the Cardinals’ Monday afternoon Grapefruit League loss to the Mets. “It’s probably the first time it was in the news, but two years ago, somebody said that I was going to get traded to the Cubs. And I was like, ‘Pfft.’ People always try to speculate and try to start something so they can say, ‘I was the first guy.'”
-He was more exhausted from the contract talks all offseason than he was about the trade talk.
“It comes to the point where it drives you crazy,” he said. “Myself, if you would be in my situation, it’s OK to write, but don’t ask me. Because I’ve already told you what I told you before, and if you come with the same thing over and over, it gets to the point where it drives me crazy. I think people need to respect that.”
-Pujols finished his day with the media with his focus on the field.
“I don’t pay attention to that,” he said. “My job is to play baseball and take care of this organization as much as I can, try to stay healthy. Stuff like that, if you go by that and what people think, that will drive you crazy.”
-The other half of the mega-deal also dismissed the rumor, but seemed a little more ticked off. Rather than having some fun with the rumor, Howard gave a long-winded statement on the matter.
“I don’t really have anything to say about it, to be honest with you, really, truthfully,” Howard said. “I can go back to all the stuff that happened when I was in Double-A and all the talk about trade rumors and that kind of stuff. To be honest, I don’t know anything about anything. I’m not really focused on it. If that were the case, which I don’t know if it is or not or whatever, it is what it is. Just keep going out there and just keep doing your thing. If you do get a call saying you’re traded, just say you’re traded. But until that happens, I’m still a Phillie, I’m still here. So let’s ride it out.”
-Finally, Tony La Russa chimed in with his opinion. He was by far the most upset about the report.
“To the extent that anybody takes it seriously, it can distract the Phillies, it can distract here,” La Russa said. “I’m pretty sure that none of that is happening, but why even [write it]? … The person who came up with that one should be tracked down and then you would say, ‘Hmmm. That credibility just took a big hit.’ Ridiculous, actually. It’s not really worth speculating on, except to try to figure out who started it.”
Here’s my take on the situation:
-Buster Olney is one of the best reporters around baseball. He is not a talking head that looks to stir the pot. He is a reporter. He gets the news and tells the story without disrespecting anyone. I trust Olney’s reporting and I believe the Phillies definitely considered this trade option. Ruben Amaro has already made quite a few big deals that he denied previously. He won’t leave any rock unturned. So, you better believe he has his eye on Pujols. But the important thing is that Buster Olney is a respected journalist and he deserves the benefit of the doubt in this situation. No one has the right to criticize him in this situation.
-With that in mind, Tony La Russa is the last person that has a right to criticize Olney. Who is he to say that Olney’s credibility should take a hit. How about we “track down” Tony for all of his flaws over the years. Did anyone bother him after his arrest at Spring Training in 2007? Or hey, let’s track down the trail of PED users that passed through Tony’s clubhouse. Jose Canseco. Mark McGwire. Rick Ankiel. Many more that haven’t been caught. When I list these names, I would have to say, “Hmmm. That credibility just took a big hit.” This year, La Russa said he had no idea his players were using steroids as he welcomed the Steroid King onto his coaching staff. Talk about having absolutely zero credibility. Next time you go on a rant, Tony, remember all the breaks you’ve been given throughout your career. This is only a distraction if you let it become one, so do your job as the team’s leader and manager and focus in on baseball.
-Finally, this story only hurts the Cards. The Philadelphia Daily News points out that this at least makes an impression on Pujols if he ever looks to leave St. Louis — Philly is interested. There are draws. Championship team. Great lineup. And that tiny ballpark that Pujols would own. None of it is important right now because Pujols won’t be going anywhere in 2010. Get ready for another great season in Busch Stadium from the reigning NL MVP.