Albert Pujols' contract the big story for the Cards at winter meetings

The story has been lurking in the minds of St. Louis Cardinals fans and the organization for quite some time now. The two sides have met before, but a deal could not be reached. Now, time is a factor. The clock is ticking.

And with every tick of the clock comes another shred of possibility that Albert Pujols wears another team’s uniform one day. The superstar’s contract ends at the end of the 2011 season. His decade of service to the St. Louis Cardinals could come to an unceremonious end.

There would be no celebration of his 3,000th hit. No chance to witness his 500th, or 600th, or possibly 700th home run. When Pujols announces his retirement there would only be memories — faded memories that wilted away with time. The year 2010 would be a decade in the past. His rookie season, 2001, an entire generation. Most of all, St. Louis would be robbed of the opportunity to witness greatness. Pujols would be robbed of the pure greatness and legacy that comes with playing for one team in a career. The legacy of the greatest player of our generation wouldn’t feel perfect.

There would be a strange, uneasy feeling lurking in the collective mind of history.

That feeling and the lurking could all dissipate if Pujols just signs on the dotted line with the Cardinals before the season. The process begins again with the baseball winter meetings, which started today. The biggest news that could come from the meetings for St. Louis would be news of a brand new contract for Pujols.

The Cards have already added nice contributing pieces in former Cubs middle infielder and longtime Astros slugger Lance Berkman this offseason. St. Louis still has some other moves to make before April, but nothing is as important as making progress and finishing the deal with No. 5.

St. Louis plans to have talks with Pujols this week, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Mark Miller. The Chicago Tribune has reported that the Cards will have to shell out at least $25 million for eight or more seasons.

It’s a hefty price, but I believe Pujols is worth it. Like Derek Jeter, Pujols only belongs in one uniform. And the Cards’ leader is still in his prime. He’s still an MVP candidate every single year. And it would be a shame if there was another team listed on his Hall of Fame plaque in Cooperstown one day.

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Tags: Albert Pujols Derek Jeter Free Agency Lance Berkman Ryan Theriot St Louis Cardinals Winter Meetings

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