St. Louis Cardinals: Getting over Albert Pujols
He’s been gone for four years but do St. Louis Cardinals fans hold a grudge over #5 leaving and if so, why?
For the record, I supported St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak’s decision to let Albert Pujols walk in December of 2011. Mo made a measured and fair offer(via Joe Strauss, somewhere around 9 years and 200 million). Fans who wanted the team to give Jason Heyward 8 years and over 180 million this past winter could have lived with the Cardinals offer. Pujols went west for 250 million. He chased the money, but that doesn’t cause me to hold ill feelings towards him years later. A poll on Twitter got the head rolling Tuesday night.
The correct answer is cheering. Cheer a lot. St. Louis Cardinals fans will never see a talent like Pujols in their lifetime. A revered player and overall dynamic hitter. Arguably one of the best righthanded hitters of all time.
In his 11 years in St. Louis, Pujols hit 445 home runs and his slash line was ruthlessly great. Pujols hit .328 and his on base percentage was .420. He slugged .617 and his reign here included nine seasons of 6 WAR(wins above replacement). In his 11 seasons, Pujols was worth 86 wins(a solid regular win total for an MLB team) above his probable replacement. Which other team can claim to have a player like that? Which Cardinal was worth that much to the team? I’ll keep talking while you look.
The main reasons Cards fans are upset about Pujols’ departure is the missing power bat and producer at first base. Since Albert Pujols left, the position has suffered a dip in output. Allen Craig was a part time player there and fared well for a couple seasons before Matt Adams hit a peak and rolled down the hill. This season, there could be four different players taking reps there. Adams, Brandon Moss, Matt Holliday and maybe even Stephen Piscotty. A sign of change at the position leaves fans wanting more there. At best, Adams and Moss’ WAR don’t even match 2015 Pujols’ 3.1. It’s unfair to compare those due to salary and expectations, but that’s the dip the team has experienced.
A poll on Twitter got the head rolling Tuesday night.
The favorable answer is cheer, according to the polls. However, there are still some harsh and simmering opinions on the former Cards first basemen. One can only hope they continue to disappear.
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Pujols’ overall production will only dip down more as his age increases and his body continues to break down. The contract was voted the worst contract in baseball in a recent poll conducted by ESPN so it will soon feel like an albatross attached to a roster. Like an anchor being dragged across the ground behind a freight train. The man who gave Pujols his money, Jerry Dipoto, isn’t in LA anymore. This was a terrible contract and one the Cards would regret. Something even TV money couldn’t cover up.
Still, it’s time to cut the grudge against Pujols. St. Louis got the best years of his career and at a moderate price. When he does step back in Busch Stadium and taps that bat on the plate after getting a mini hug from Yadier Molina, the 42,000 in attendance should stand and salute him. Give him an extended standing ovation for his work here.
When he goes into the Hall of Fame, it will and should be as a Cardinal. He was a Rookie of the Year here. He won three MVP’s here. He helped the team win a pair of World Series trophies. Around here, he’s a legend who decided to retire elsewhere. Don’t let that decision cause a grudge to withstand. Let it go if you haven’t.
St. Louis will not see another Albert Pujols in for a long time.
I posted my own poll last night on Twitter. Head on over and cast your vote.