Thursday, December 8, 2011

"El Hombre" heads West

Albert Pujols is now a member of the Angels. Wow. A 10-year, $250-million Angel, at that. Wow, wow, wow. This is bad on so many levels.

For starters, Albert Pujols had the opportunity to be a great hero, not only to the loyal fans of St. Louis, but to all fans, by showing us that there were some things bigger than money. But by shunning the Cards' offer for what amounts to an extra $3 million a year, Pujols is telling us it's all about the money. I really thought Pujols was different. Color me surprised.

Second, the contract: 10 years? Aside from the fact that the Angels will be paying a 41-year-old player $25 million, just how well have 10-year deals worked out in the past? A-Rod and the Rangers? Kevin Brown? Not a good track record.

Now let's fast forward to years 7, 8, 9 and 10: although Pujols is still one of the best players in baseball, his stats have declined steadily over the past three years. Guess what? That decline will continue. In St. Louis, fans would rabidly defend him because of what he's meant to the franchise, even as his production tails off. (Derek Jeter, anyone?) But as a money-grabbing free agent, Pujols' MVP awards from his St. Louis days won't carry any weight with Angels' fans looking for results from their $250-million man. (The Yankees, after all, were paying Jeter for what he'd already done for their team.)

Then there are the Angels. Sure, signing Pujols makes a splash. Last season, the Angers were 10th in the AL in runs scored and 9th in slugging.No one can deny that Pujols will make a difference in the lineup, but does he make them $25 million better? Would that money be better spent on upgrading two different positions? And what of Mark Trumbo, the young, incumbent first-baseman and last year's offensive MVP for the club? How will he perform at another position or as a DH?

Throughout this whole period, I never believed the Marlins could pull the trigger and doubted the Cubs could pull off an intra-division move. In the end, I thought the lure of St. Louis would draw Pujols back into the Cardinals fold. Never did I see Pujols pulling off a run-for-the-money like this. I'm going to wait and see until I'm proven wrong, but I don't like this one at all...