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What is Albert Pujols really waiting for?

Nov 30, 2009, 6:30 PM EDT

Great piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today by Bernie Miklasz wondering what Albert Pujols really means when he says he wants to wait to sign an extension with St. Louis so he can make sure “he’s playing somewhere that’s competitive.”  Bernie’s take: whaddaya mean? What team has been more competitive than St. Louis over the past decade? You got the Yankees, the Red Sox, and that’s kind of it, isn’t it?  St. Louis is certainly in the upper tier of competitiveness, so what kind of commitment does Pujols really want?

Miklasz speculates that it may have to do with whether or not the Cardinals will give Jose Oquendo the managers’ job after Tony La Russa retires because (1) they are close; and (2) nobody was cooler in the 1980s than the play-every-position genius that was Jose Oquendo. OK, that last part is more my thinking than Albert’s, but I’m sure he’d agree.

Anyway, if I’m the Cardinals brass, I’m probably a bit peeved by this. Despite living in a small, relatively depressed city, the Cardinals always put a quality product on the field and do way more to keep the mojo flowing than a lot of teams in much bigger cities.  They’d never get into a public spat with someone as important as Pujols over this, but you gotta have a lot of chutzpah to suggest that the Cardinals, of all teams, have something to prove in the commitment-to-winning department.

And yes, even someone as otherwise as admirable like Pujols is capable of chutzpah.

  1. GBSimons - Dec 1, 2009 at 8:32 AM

    As a Cardinal fan, I would love for Pujols to sign a nice, long contract extension ASAP that keeps him with the Cardinals forever. However, I don’t blame him for waiting. He has two more years on his current deal – including the team’s $16 million 2011 option – so there’s no pressure to rush things.
    First, maybe the economy improves enough in the next year or two that Pujols can sign an eight-year, $240 million contract instead of an eight-year, $200 million deal. (I’m pulling relatively-reasonable numbers out of the air. YMMV.)
    Second, things could change significantly with the Redbirds in the next couple of seasons. What if Carpenter is hurt again, Rasmus doesn’t develop, St. Louis wastes $10 million a year on another mediocre starting pitcher like they did with Lohse, and/or they continue to sign Jason LaRue as their backup catcher when so many better options are out there? (Gregg Zaun, anyone?)
    Pujols has the luxury of time and the knowledge that he will get paid an incomprehensible amount of money from someone in the near future. While I hope that’s the Cardinals, only time will tell.

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