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Pujols releases statement on failed negotiations

Feb 16, 2011, 10:40 PM EDT

Albert Pujols, Ivan Rodriguez

Unless you were down in a mine all day (do mines get broadband?), you probably heard that the Cardinals failed to reach a contract extension with Albert Pujols before the slugger’s self-imposed Wednesday deadline.

Different numbers have been popping up everywhere since talks were called off at noon, detailing in different tones how far apart the two sides might have been. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Cardinals offered a salary of greater than $200 million over a nine- or ten-year frame. ESPN’s Buster Olney says the Cardinals low-balled Pujols with something worth $19-$21 million annually and wouldn’t go as long as ten seasons.

We may never get to the bottom of the Cardinals’ actual offer.

Whatever it was — as low as Olney is reporting or a bit rosier like Strauss says — it hasn’t completely offended Pujols. He released a statement to the press late this evening, explaining that he hopes “to revisit those talks” with John Mozeliak and Co. after the season and that he has the “utmost respect” for all members of the Cardinals’ front office and ownership group. To Cardinals fans, Albert said this:

I also would like to take this opportunity to reassure the Cardinal Nation, that my effort both on and off the field will never change. I am devoted to giving 100 percent on the field, every single day, just as I have done the last 10 years. We’re all working together toward a common goal and that is to win a World Championship for the City of St. Louis. The last thing anyone in this clubhouse needs to worry about, is what’s going to happen to me after the season. Let’s focus on winning in 2011 and prepare each day to accomplish our goals as a team. I’m feeling strong, healthy and excited to be at Spring Training in what I hope to be the start of a World Championship season. I can’t wait to get started and God bless.

Yes, this is a tactic. Pujols doesn’t want to be bogged down with questions about the negotiations or his impending free agency this season, and especially not during spring training. He’s undoubtedly hoping that this press release will provide the media with enough of a quote sheet on the matter and that they’ll focus on other stories in Cardinals camp over the next month-plus.

It’s a tactic, but the words in the statement should be comforting to St. Louis fans. Or at least prevent them from completely blaming Albert for the failed talks when he first takes the plate at Busch Stadium this year.

Pujols wants to focus on winning now and will accept competitive bids from the DeWitts next winter. That’s all that “Cardinal Nation” can ask for at the moment from baseball’s best hitter.

  1. ultimatecardinalwarrior - Feb 16, 2011 at 10:50 PM

    One thing that is for sure going to happen is Pujols will get a standing ovation when he first comes up to the plate. Cardinals fans know how to show love.

    • Drew Silva - Feb 16, 2011 at 10:53 PM

      That’s a fact. Should have said “blamed him on the radio waves.”

  2. iamthedoublestandard - Feb 16, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    Don’t get me wrong, he’s in the top 5. Baseball’s best hitter? Yeah, he was on Fallon last night.

    • mercyflush - Feb 16, 2011 at 11:13 PM

      That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever read on this site. Albert Pujols *average* season after 10 years has an OPS+ of 172. Mauer’s by far best season, 2009, he had an OPS+ of 170.

      The lowest OPS+ Pujols ever had was 151 in 2002. Mauer only ever beat that once, in ’09.

      And OPS+ is only one of about 30 stats where Pujols beats Mauer, including career BA: .331 AP to .327 JM.

      Pujols is the best hitter in MLB, period. And he will be one of the top 5 all time when he’s done. He might even be in that discussion now.

      (and for the record I’m not a Cards fan. I hate them, actually. But I acknowledge greatness).

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 16, 2011 at 11:55 PM

        I heard a stat that said only Ted Williams had a higher WAR than Pujols after 10 seasons in the league. Not that I like WAR, but if you have so far beaten EVERYBODY except Teddy Ballgame, you are an all-timer.

      • cintiphil - Feb 17, 2011 at 1:02 PM

        You are right on. He is the very best I ever saw play. We don’t hate the Cardinals in Cinti, but we hate to lose so many times to them because of Albert. We would like to see him in the AL. If we can’t win the NL Central (I think we will), then I hope it is the Brewers or the Cardinals.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 16, 2011 at 11:18 PM

      I would argue that Pujols is a better overall player than Mauer as well, but Drew was only saying that Pujols is baseball’s best hitter. Mauer’s at .327/.407/.481 for his career. Pujols is at .331/.426/.624. No contest.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 17, 2011 at 10:10 AM

      “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever read on this site.” This is the truest thing I’ve ever read on this site. Mauer > Pujols? You must be high.

    • tmohr - Feb 17, 2011 at 10:49 AM

      Felicia Day is the best hitter in baseball?

  3. stankfinger - Feb 16, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    Pujols might be the last guy you’d ever accuse of dogging it once having a fat contract, but not having a contract in hand during this coming season can only make him work that much harder. That’s one positive way to look at it for you Cards fans out there.

  4. Chris Fiorentino - Feb 16, 2011 at 11:17 PM

    The Cardinals are playing a very dangerous game here. If they truly think they aren’t going to get Pujols signed, they need to trade him now. I know he has full veto rights, but you can’t tell me that he would pass up on the chance to go to the Phillies. If they offered the Cardinals Ryan Howard++, the Cardinals would be idiots to turn that deal down. and if the Phillies offered Pujols 8 years and $220 Million he would be an idiot to turn down playing behind the best rotation in baseball history for at least the next two years. If they play it out, and Pujols signs elsewhere, the Cardinals will go down as the biggest fools in baseball. All that money to Holliday for a middling squad the next 4-5 years. Howard is a local guy and would be a great draw. He’s no Pujols(who is?) but he’s better than 2 draft picks in the 2012 draft.

    • cur68 - Feb 16, 2011 at 11:29 PM

      Well when you put it like that…Albert in Philthy? Lord luv a duck; he’s taking his talents to (near) Long Beach!

    • Ari Collins - Feb 16, 2011 at 11:30 PM

      There is practically no reason to trade Pujols. You would rather have one year of Pujols than pretty much any package you’re going to get for the guy. And definitely you’d rather have a year of Pujols than a declining 1B with five years at $25M a year still owed to him. Tony Reagins aside, no one’s going to give up anything of value for Ryan Howard’s bloated contract.

      And I doubt Pujols would give the Phillies a discount if he won’t give it to the Cards. Keep dreaming, Fiorentino.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 16, 2011 at 11:50 PM

        If you think you aren’t going to get him signed, there’s EVERY reason to trade Pujols. Ryan Howard is a hometown guy. He loves St. Louis and St. Louis loves him. He’ll draw people, and he’ll provide at least something in exchange for the last year of Pujols. Also, how is 8 years at $27.5 million a “discount”? OK, make it 8 years and $230 or $240. What difference does it make. The point is that the Cardinals would rather have a shorter term with Howard than getting nothing for Pujols. Or maybe you think they will be OK with those 2 high draft picks? You obviously undervalue Howard, which is your opinion. He’s much better than getting the two high draft picks.

      • paperlions - Feb 17, 2011 at 7:04 AM

        Howard’s contract is horrible. He won’t be worth it (or even close) for even one of those years. Bad defense, bad base running, and huge declines in power and OBP. If the Cardinals were going to overpay a 1B, they’d do it for Pujols (who StL loves and is younger than Howard) rather than for Howard (who StL honestly couldn’t give a shit about, regardless of the fact that he’s from here). Philly would have to pick up a huge chunk of Howard’s contract to trade him to anyone, and they aren’t going to do that, otherwise, getting Howard is not better than getting nothing.
        And why would Pujols want to sign for 8 years to play behind that rotation of old guys, they’ll be good for a couple of years, then have an old rotation and an old core of position players.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 17, 2011 at 8:33 AM

        This isn’t about Howard the player (although Howard is overrated, he’s probably still going to be a quality player). It has to do with Howard the contract. His contract has NEGATIVE trade value. As in, if the Phillies put Howard on waivers, no one would want him. They could not give him away, let alone get a year of Pujols for him.

        I don’t remember who said this, but I remember Neyer quoting them: teams don’t trade players, they trade contracts. Next year, Pujols is worth something like $20M in value above what he’s being paid. You would need quite a package to match that.

        So if the Cardinals have decided that they won’t sign Pujols during the season or even after the season, it would still make a lot more sense to get a year of him at a severe discount than to trade him. Especially in a contending year.

        And it makes a ton more sense to get a year of Pujols at a discount than six years of overpaying Ryan Howard.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 17, 2011 at 10:21 AM

      Dude, if the Phillies land Pujols in any fashion within the next year (via trade or free agency), I’ll never eat a pie again. Keep wishing upon those stars my friend.

    • cintiphil - Feb 17, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      Either you or stupid, or think the rest of us are. Albert doesn’t want to go to Philly. Howard is not in his class and I think he is strictly a HR guy but a poor fielder and just because he is from St. Louis, doesn’t mean they want him there. Pujols is also from Missouri (after they left the home country as a young boy), as he went to school there.

      Get your head out of you know where. Only you think everyone wants to play in the city of Brotherly hate. I have been to games there. There is love to it.

  5. heyzeus143 - Feb 16, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    new york or Boston

    • bigharold - Feb 17, 2011 at 7:40 AM

      Yankees or Angels

      • larryhockett - Feb 17, 2011 at 9:07 AM

        I’m guessing, in order, Angels, Cubs, Dodgers.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 17, 2011 at 9:47 AM

        Not so sure about the Angels, depends on how Kendry does this year. Not that I can’t see them doing it, I’d just put them a little behind those others based on the fact that Pujols is worth slightly less to them given that they have a potential stud returning from injury at his position. Also, of course, you have to at least mention the Angels’ recent hesitation to spend as big as other teams. Whether that’s predictive or not, I’m not sure, and while I love Crawford and Beltre, Pujols is a pretty special special case.

        I’d add the Jays to the list. Just cleared out Wells’ contract, have 1B mostly open, and adding 7 or 8 wins a year would make a huge difference to them. While they did use some of the money for Jose Bautista, they have very little in payroll obligation still, and resigning Bautista says to me they’re interested in really going for it over the next several years.

  6. fightingwombat - Feb 16, 2011 at 11:38 PM

    I’m not a die hard follower of the Cards, but I get the feeling that Pujols is going to tear it up this year. The few times that I’ve seen the Cards play, Pujols is doing something to help the team win games. He’s one of those special players that LOVES the game, and knows that the fans are who he plays for. I’ve never heard anything negative about him in the press (or on this blog) – reminds me of Cal Ripken or Tony Gwynn – they were one team players during their careers.

    Watch the man play this year – he’s going to put himself in a better negotiating position when he talks to the Cards again about a new contract.

    • cur68 - Feb 16, 2011 at 11:45 PM

      I agree re. his performance, he’ll be a monster, but I don’t see how he could be in any better position than he is now. He’s always a friggin monster. I wish he was douche like A-Rod, but no, he’s mister teflon clean. He’ll be a Yankee in 2012. Deep sigh.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 16, 2011 at 11:57 PM

      “Watch the man play this year – he’s going to put himself in a better negotiating position when he talks to the Cards again about a new contract.”

      Honestly, what more can the guy do to make himself be in a better bargaining position? He is done with the Cardinals. It seems to have become personal. They had the entire winter to get the guy signed, and they waited until the last week to make an offer, which sounds like it was extremely lowball. The Cardinals treated this process they were buying a TV off Craigslist.

      • paperlions - Feb 17, 2011 at 8:43 AM

        Why would you say it has become personal? The Cardinals are probably trying to get him as cheaply as possible, and they don’t want to bid against themselves…which makes perfect business sense. Perhaps the Cardinals think that he won’t find his $300MM contract on the open market and they can sign him for less than he is demanding now after he sees what is available. I wouldn’t want to risk him getting away, but they obviously are willing to do so.
        IMO, from a business perspective for StL, losing Pujols will be much worse than overpaying him (based on expected value). Within that context, EVERY star player is over paid, so if they won’t re-sign Pujols, they won’t sign any other star FAs. Their farm system is weak, so no/little cheap talent is on its way to help. They will suffer greater decline in revenues while having a decade of mediocre (or worse) seasons than the entire amount of any Pujols contract. The Cardinals are trying to not make a mistake, but the better mistake to make is to pay Pujols too much….losing him will cost a lot more.

      • larryhockett - Feb 17, 2011 at 9:13 AM

        I agree with the sentiment that the Pujols we see this year won’t be that much different than the one we always see. How much better could he possibly get?

        I also think the Cards decided some time ago that they’re not going to resign him. It’s certainly a legitimate decision on their part. $30M/yr over the next 10 years (or so) is an obligation very few teams could take on and still field a contender. Having made that decision, they now have a very touchy PR situation with which to contend. I think both sides are trying to get through this year without alienating the fans. When the season is over, some team will emerge with a monstrous offer and Pujols will move on.

  7. BC - Feb 17, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    Mauer as a catcher will break down before Pujols, but at this second, Mauer is more valuable to his team. In three years, no question, Pujols.
    PS. If Pujols doesn’t re-sign with the Cards, he’s going to Texas. I’ll keep sayin’ it. Bank on it.

    • spudchukar - Feb 17, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      BC, if I banked every time you told me to bank, I wouldn’t have anything in the bank.

  8. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 17, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    Don’t worry Cards fans, I’m sure he’ll send a postcard from his new city next year.

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