Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols are linked again in a crazy business situation after the Philadelphia slugger signed a five-year, $125-million extension. Apparently, there won’t be a trade any time soon. Right now, it’s all smiles for Howard and Philadelphia. St. Louis isn’t exactly excited about its hometown hero’s latest accomplishment. When Howard signed his name on the dotted line, Albert Pujols’ pending contract situation got a whole lot more complicated. And St. Louis started to sweat again.
Just when we were settling in to enjoy baseball and the contract angst was disappearing, this happens. Howard is not in the same class as Pujols. Pujols is the better hitter. He strikes out less. He is a better fielder and more athletic. Pujols appears to be better suited for a long career and he’s younger than Howard, too. All around, Pujols is the better player. He’s the best in the game. So, he will certainly be in line for a bigger payout than Howard. Some believe he could get $200 million and that has Cards fans worried.
After signing Matt Holliday to a big deal this offseason, you have to wonder how much the organization is willing to spend. Then again, Holliday was brought in to protect Pujols not to replace him as the Cards biggest bat. I still have a hard time believing Pujols will be anywhere but St. Louis next year and beyond. He is part of St. Louis now. He is a St. Louis Cardinal. He wouldn’t look right in another uniform and I think that deep down he knows it. Pujols loves the organization and the city; it’s the only place he’s ever known. So, when the Yankees are lurking in the shadows, I trust that he’ll overcome the temptation (I know they have Teixeira, but this is the Yankees. Nothing has stopped them from stockpiling the best to stay on top). I think Pujols will stay loyal to St. Louis.
Joe Mauer stayed in Minnesota and he’s enjoying a nice chunk of cash. The loyalty trumped greed to squeeze every penny out of free agency. Pujols is going to get paid. He’s going to get millions. Money won’t be a problem for the rest of his life. I trust that he’ll realize a few less dollars to stay in St. Louis is more important for his legacy.
Ryan Howard gets to finish his career with Philly and chase a few more championships with J-Roll and Chase. That’s special. Pujols deserves the same chance. He controls his destiny. It should be in St. Louis with Carpenter and Holliday chasing down the Phillies and then his second ring.
Give it a week, and baseball will ease the tension until November. Then, only Pujols can ease St. Louis’ pain.