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The Albert Pujols deadline was a big mistake

Feb 15, 2011, 10:32 AM EDT

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates Getty Images

Here’s Joe Strauss’ latest on the State of the Pujols negotiations.  Not much new in there other than the tidbit that Pujols’ agent Dan Lozano and Cadinals’ GM John Mozeliak are “in regular contact.”

All of this stuff — the deadline, the moving of the deadline for Musial’s thing, etc. — just makes me think that if it was Albert Pujols‘ goal to limit the distractions of his contract status, he was probably way better off not setting a deadline at all.

Really: if it was wide open and fluid and talks could theoretically go on during the season, how many people would be writing stuff about his contract status right now?  Not many, I imagine.  It would be relegated to paragraph five of standard spring training stories, and would be tossed off with ” … and winning this year takes on greater importance given that it could be Albert Pujols’ last season in St. Louis.  That will be decided this winter, however. For now, the Cardinals look like the should challenge for the division crown if …”

Instead this is being watched like someone’s execution.  Deadline on Tuesday! No, wait! The governor called and has delayed it until tomorrow morning.  Pujols was just fed his last meal!  He’s walking out now! No contract has been signed!  Protesters are holding a vigil outside the gates of the stadium!

Just because negotiations proceed doesn’t mean that they need to be a distraction to the player.  The agent can see to that. Hell, the agent could just humor the team all summer and never bother the player at all.  Maybe that’s not ideal, but if, as Pujols says, avoiding distractions is the name of the game, such a course couldn’t have been worse than setting this ultra-dramatic cutoff tomorrow.

  1. BC - Feb 15, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    I love that picture!

  2. uyf1950 - Feb 15, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    Everyone thinks the exclusive negotiating period for the Cardinals with Albert is noon this Wednesday. Even if that time comes and goes without an agreement which right now looks like a very distinct possibility the Cardinals still have as an exclusive period. That time between the end of their 2011 season and the first day of FA after the World Series. Which could be anywhere from about 4 days to about 30 days. So forget about the noon Wednesday deadline.

    • spudchukar - Feb 15, 2011 at 6:21 PM

      Except his agent said at the end of last week if the deadline passed Albert would be filing for FA, and I bet his agent is aware of the post-season doughnut hole.

  3. sknut - Feb 15, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    The deadline is worthless, its not like the Cardinals don’t know what it will take to sign him. So if on May 6th the front office decides to bite the bullet and pay it Pujols would accept it.

  4. bigharold - Feb 15, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    Everybody is egntitled to their oipinion …

    If Pujols didn’t purt ae deadline on it the questions from tihe media wouldn’ts stop either so their is your distraction. Frankly I think Pujols is asking for a bit much considering his age but hey he has been way under paid. At least once the deadline is passed, assuming it isn’t moved yet again, he can say that there are no negotiations and I’m ont talking about it. Problem solved! And, the negotiations can still continue, provided the involved parties keep quite.

  5. cur68 - Feb 15, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    I think its goodbye to the Cardinals Albert Pujols and hello Yankee Albert Pujols. No one else has the kind of dough he’s demanding but them. We all lose when that happens. We have to hope that he slumps horribly this season, his asking price goes down and he either re-signs with the Cards or joins the Mariners and lives on in dysfunctia.

    • chrisheer - Feb 15, 2011 at 12:34 PM

      Seems unlikely. Where would he play? They’ve already got Tex at 1B, and presumably once Posada leaves A-Rod will end up DHing. Pujols can’t play 3B anymore with his elbow.

      Red Sox don’t need him either now that they have Adrian Gonzalez.

      I can think of one team that needs a first baseman after this season and could theoretically have the cash: the Cubs. (And as a Cub fan, wow, the reaction in St. Louis would be a joy to behold…)

      Angels could be in on him too. Probably 5-6 other teams.

      • cur68 - Feb 15, 2011 at 1:19 PM

        Good cogent argument. But Tex can DH, too, not just A-Rod. I still like your thoughts, though. And, as you indicate, the St. Louis reaction to the Cub Albert Pujols will bring a tear to my eye. I hope you are right.

      • 78mu - Feb 15, 2011 at 6:38 PM

        If he wants to win why would he sign with the Cubs? They are 0 for more than a hundred years.

        I would look at KC. The Royals have won a lot more recently than the Cubs (talk about setting the bar low) plus they have some players in their farm system that would look good with Albert around them on the field. Plus he could DH at the end of the contract.

        KC would probably take more delight than Chicago at sticking it to St. Louis. Outside of baseball, it’s hard to find anyone in Chicago with an inferiority complex towards St. Louis. Kansas City on the other hand…….

        Pujols could take up half of the Royals payroll and they could still make money. Or the Angels could use him. Either way it seems it makes more sense to go to an AL team if he really wants a ten year contract.

  6. Chris Fiorentino - Feb 15, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    I disagree with you here Craig. I think if King Albert didn’t put a deadline on it, the first thing everybody would ask every night of the season would be “So how is the negotiation going?” Now, everybody knows there is no negotiation. And if they continue to ask, he has every reason to be a dick to them and say there is no negotiation going on, as I said before the season. And if they continue to ask, he can tell then to f off and not talk to them anymore. Do you think not talking to the media is going to affect him? I highly doubt it.

  7. Steve A - Feb 15, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    The Mystery Team is going to have one heckuva first baseman and starting pitcher in 2012.

  8. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 15, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    I gotta disagree with you Craig. This thing is being dragged to the brink because the Cards are not giving the man what he deserves; the best contract in baseball. Did they actually think he’d take less than that? Everyone knows he’s the best in the game expect the team he plays for apparently. They should have prepared to offer that in the beginning and this would been resolved in early Jan. Having no deadline only means the Cards could shuffle their feet all season long.

  9. paperlions - Feb 15, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    I agree with Craig on this one. Albert just shined a giant spot light on his contract situation, which would have been under much less bright lights other wise. Now, not only will he be peppered with questions regarding his contract all season long, but so will the manager and his team mates. Moreover, making such a deadline public is not in keeping with the “private negotiations”/not negotiating in the press tenet that otherwise has been observed by Pujols and his agent.
    It was a tactic to create leverage that did not work, and may have negative consequences with respect to public perception and a season-long public discussion about his future in baseball. If it wasn’t a mistake, it clearly wasn’t a success.

    • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Feb 15, 2011 at 4:56 PM

      There was a giant spot light on Albert’s contract situation regardless of any deadline. As for all the speculation I’ll quote another Saint Louisan Yogi, “It ain’t over until it’s over”.

  10. Brian - Feb 15, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    there was an article recently espousing Chase Utley as being actually better overall, if not the same as Albert Pujols based on advanced statistics through 2009. Anyone know where that is? I can’t find it.

    • spudchukar - Feb 15, 2011 at 12:15 PM

      Maybe it was a dream.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 15, 2011 at 12:39 PM

      Only thing I could find was an article by Dave Cameron of fangraphs saying Utley was more valuable than Pujols, but that was back in ’09. And Cameron’s version of valuable was based on a WAR comparison vs actual salary (total WAR = equivalent $ amount minus actual salary = value). Pujols is the best player in the game, by far, and he’s trying to get paid as it as well.

  11. spudchukar - Feb 15, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    All good points Craig, however, as the season progresses and the negotiations were open, every time he got a hot streak, people would write he is more entitled. When cold the leverage would shift back to the management. If he is doing well it is driven by his desire to prove his worth, if poorly then the pressure is having its affect. Probably would have been a better idea not to use Spring Training as the deadline, one could argue Spring Training needs distractions. This announcement was made in time to give the Cards’ management time to settle with the proverbial “we have an agreement in principle”. With that both sides may have been flexible in their timetables. Regarding distractions, I guess Albert is the only one who knows that, and if he says they are then I guess they are.

    • paperlions - Feb 15, 2011 at 12:53 PM

      People will write those articles no matter what. Indeed, even if he signs tomorrow, they’ll write them within the context of the new contract.

      • spudchukar - Feb 15, 2011 at 1:30 PM

        The difference being they will give him a lot more time. At least nearly an entire season. The focus here was the amount of distraction.

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