Do St. Louis Cardinals miss Albert Pujols?
When Albert Pujols departed the St. Louis Cardinals as a free agent at the end of 2011, the mood around Cardinal Nation ranged from glum to angry.
I even had my fair share of people ask if I was all right, since the Cardinals had just lost their top hitter.
The answer I gave was yes, and I meant it.
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Four years later, the question is being asked again. With Matt Adams first slumping at the plate and then hurting enough to go on the disabled list, should the Cardinals have kept Pujols?
I don’t usually speculate, but here goes nothing.
Let’s just say the Cardinals had met everyone’s demands. Let’s say St. Louis signed Pujols to the same contract the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim did. Pujols would have gotten a $240 million contract, one double the size of the $120 million deal signed by Matt Holliday following the 2009 season.
The Cardinals likely would not have boosted payroll much past the $120 million mark, where it is right now. That would have meant skimping on other players. Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn would have likely had to walk as free agents. With Pujols making all that money, you can’t afford a big pitching staff loaded with talent from 1 to 5. Oh, don’t forget you have to pay a closer too.
Now assume Pujols had the same problems with plantar fasciitis that he did in Anaheim.
I think I’ll take where the Cardinals are at right now.
Look, no one is happier than I am to see Pujols with a season of over 20 homers once again. Barring injury he could hit 40 home runs and exceed everyone’s expectations.
I don’t begrudge him for one minute for taking the money and leaving. St. Louis had money ready to spend on Pujols, and when he left they sunk that cash into pitching and bench upgrades. Don’t think for one minute owner Bill DeWitt and general manager John Mozeliak pocketed the money.
For now, while it would have been nice to live out a dream in St. Louis, Pujols is happy on the West Coast and St. Louis is in first place.
Not a bad trade, huh?