The St. Louis Cardinals might be gunning to sign Albert Pujols as a player or coach. It’s a bad idea.
I spent the formative years of my life eating, reading and watching Albert Pujols sock dingers for the St. Louis Cardinals. When I think of Pujols, the player who comes to my mind is a superstar who absolutely clobbered the ball, fielded his position as well as anyone, and even stole a few bases thanks to his baserunning savvy despite below-average speed.
But the Pujols of then is not the Pujols of today. I can understand Cardinals fans wanting to sign the newly released Pujols to play his final season in the same place he had his golden years. And while it’s a nice thought, reality is much harsher. Pujols is simply no longer a good player. He’s not even an adequate player. In fact, in 2017, there was an article calling him the worst player in baseball.
If Pujols came back to the Cardinals for one more year as the current fraction of the superstar he once was, it would be painful. I wouldn’t want to watch the once-in-a-generation hitter at this stage of his career struggling to hit and tainting my memories. Also, if the Cardinals signed Pujols, there would be no place for him to play. Paul Goldschmidt is entrenched at first base, and the designated hitter isn’t coming to the National League for at least another year.
According to USA Today, a source said Pujols was unhappy with his playing time. Since there’s one less spot in the lineup to put Pujols in the National League, his playing time with the Cardinals would suffer even more. Pujols would be even less pleased here than he was with the Angels this year.
It has also been 10 years since Pujols wore the Cardinals uniform. I don’t think Pujols returning to St. Louis would have the same effect it would if he had only been gone three or four years. The fact that Pujols achieved almost all of his significant milestones with the Angels somewhat separates him from the greats who hit those milestones during long careers with the Cardinals, even if those players spent the end of their careers with another team.
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Even if Pujols doesn’t play, though, many Cardinals fans online are salivating over the thought of him becoming the team’s hitting coach. I don’t like that idea either. People such as Pujols who have skills that far surpass those of their peers often have trouble helping others with that activity because of how naturally it comes to those who are among the greatest of all time.
If you’ll allow me to talk about myself for a second: I have a natural skill for copy editing and English grammar. I’m not trying to compare myself to Pujols regarding our respective skills, but when I’m trying to help somebody or answer a question on why English works the way it does, I often find it difficult to explain how or why something is correct; I just know it is.
According to an article, this natural talent is the reason Barry Bonds was a poor hitting coach for the Miami Marlins. With lesser hitters serving as coaches, they can put themselves more at the levels of the players they are coaching.
In my view, as a coach, Pujols is too good at the game. As a player, he is no longer good enough. Pujols spent 11 amazing years with the Cardinals. Let’s not ruin the memories.