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I’m struggling to see how Pujols’ big World Series changes his free agency plans

Oct 24, 2011, 4:30 PM EDT

pujols reuters Reuters

File this under not-so-deep thoughts, but for the past couple of days a lot of people have been asking how much money Albert Pujols has made himself on the free agent market due to his big World Series. And I can’t help but wonder why it changes anything.

As Jon Heyman writes today, there are a bunch of reasons why money — while important — won’t be the only thing on Pujols’ mind as he starts negotiating with teams in November. Unlike a lot of big free agents there’s legacy and stature at stake and there’s also the fact that, unlike a lot of other free agents, Pujols would do better sticking where he is if wanting to play for a winner is his objective. St. Louis wins a lot.  Heyman’s source notes that it’s gonna take more than a few million more on the offer sheet for a team to seem that much more attractive to Pujols than his current situation.

Is there a team out there willing to go several million per year higher than St. Louis? Sure, it’s possible. But it will take that and not just topping the Cardinals by a little bit that will alter Pujols’ plans. And I don’t think that Pujols’ bigtime World Series is going to make him several million more dollars a year valuable to anyone. We know what he’s capable of by now.

I tend to think differently about C.J. Wilson, who starts Game 5 tonight.  Unlike Pujols he has no legacy. Unlike Pujols, his place in the market is much less certain.  People have told me I’m misreading this, but I do think that if Wilson lays an egg tonight — a night which will likely be his last appearance before free agency — that it will affect his market.

He’s had a bad postseason. He’s showing people that just because he’s a team’s number one starter doesn’t mean that he’s an ace. Are you telling me that the Yankees, for example, aren’t wondering if Wilson doesn’t have “A.J. Burnett Sequel” written all over him? That he won’t instantly come under serious scrutiny by the New York press as the Mr. Anti-October?

One game — or a couple of games — doesn’t make a difference if you’re Albert Pujols. I can’t help but think that a couple of games are making a difference for C.J. Wilson.  Is that nuts?

  1. halladaysbiceps - Oct 24, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    “One game — or a couple of games — doesn’t make a difference if you’re Albert Pujols. I can’t help but think that a couple of games are making a difference for C.J. Wilson. Is that nuts?”

    Not at all, Craig. Look at what the 2009 post-season did for Cliff Lee. Even the 2010 playoffs for Lee (up until the WS against the Giants), Lee’s big payday was based on his post-season performance. I believe post-season for a pitcher is bigger when free agency comes around than an everyday position player. Why? Just the way it is.

    • clydeserra - Oct 24, 2011 at 5:05 PM

      right, because Cliff lee was never a Cy young award winner and had a really crappy 3 year run except for the 2009 playoffs

  2. Francisco (FC) - Oct 24, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    Well, behind the October POV Pujols plays nearly every game, he can afford a few lapses here and there if he follows up with big performances. With a pitcher, you don’t have nearly as much latitude. One bad outing and it’s good-bye. Just ask Cliff Lee.

  3. Panda Claus - Oct 24, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    If LaRussa and Duncan decide to retire or leave St. Louis, that may have a bigger effect on Pujols than probably anything else.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 24, 2011 at 5:11 PM

      Why would Pujols care what the pitching coach does? I’m asking this sincerely.

      • Panda Claus - Oct 24, 2011 at 5:23 PM

        If he wants to be on a winning team, losing a legend like Duncan would probably adversely affect the team’s pitching.

        Not saying it would do this, but if people he respects and enjoys being around leave the team, he might be less inclined to stay.

        Thinking about it, his family would probably make a bigger difference than the coaches, players or dollar value of his new contract.

      • paperlions - Oct 24, 2011 at 7:51 PM

        I like having Duncan as the PC and think he’s great…but let’s be reasonable…he couldn’t make Kyle Lohse not be Kyle Lohse, he couldn’t make Edwin Jackson not be Edwin Jackson, he couldn’t make Kyle McClellan not Kyle McClellan, and Jake Westbrook has had his worst year under Duncan…the guy is great…but he really does rely on the players have some talent to begin with…there are far far more failures in the Duncan rehab program than successes….and he may be the best at what he does.

  4. SOBEIT - Oct 24, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    For me, the question is how many teams can afford his potential price tag? Most of the large payroll teams have a high priced 1B. So who is out there to compete for his services like Agon last year? He will have to settle for less years for high dollars, or more years at less dollars. Either way, Cards seem the most attractive for the xfactor…being competitive every year for the playoffs and a stable franchise…not to mention the legacy that Craig points out.

    • Old Gator - Oct 24, 2011 at 5:24 PM

      We keep seeing articles in the Macondo spawrts press and hearing discussions on spawrts tawrk raydeeo – in the runup to the big “Macondo Marlins” rebranding fiasco scheduled for November 11 – about the Feesh making a serious run on Prince Albert. I’ve even heard that the Feesh will be “in the mix” on ESPN.


      I don’t believe they’re going to be serious contenders for his services, preferring to float what sounds like a huge offer knowing all along that at least five or six larger market teams are going to exceed it, and then turn around to the fans with an apologetic shrug and say, “see, we tried.”

      • natstowngreg - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:04 PM

        The remarkable thing is, there are rumors like this at all. The default assumption is that Loria wouldn’t shell out the big cash, not even with a new baseball palace.

      • cshearing - Oct 25, 2011 at 8:16 AM

        I think you are talking about the wrong Prince.

  5. clydeserra - Oct 24, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    I’ll go ahead and thumbs down my own comment for all y’all

    • spudchukar - Oct 24, 2011 at 5:22 PM

      Whatever WPA stands for, it is meaningless. Anyone who watched Game 3 knows that without Pujols’ big night the Cards might well have lost. Sure the 3rd Homer was all gravy, but his productivity prior to the final at bat, kept St. Louis from blowing considerable leads. Another example of garbage in, garbage out.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:08 PM

        Whatever WPA stands for, it is meaningless

        It stand for Win Probability Added, meaning how often, in the course of baseball history, has what Pujols done directly affected the team’s chance of winning. So basically your second statement becomes null and void.

      • paperlions - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:14 PM

        It is more than that….WPA is a contextual stat…so even though a HR in a 1-0 game in the first really has the same value as one in the bottom of the 9th, the WPA of the one in the bottom of the 9th is greater because it guaranteed the win, whereas a whole lot of things still had to happen after the 1st inning HR to clinch the 1-0 win…essentially, it considers late game actions as more important…it’s kind of a nonsensical stat that undervalues starters because they often aren’t around for the end of the game and way over-values decent relievers because they are…

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:29 PM

        Not sure if contextual is the right word. Situational yes, because contextual is most often used when bringing other parts of the game into play which WPA can’t handle. For instance, if you hit a tie breaking HR off Rivera bottom 9th in game 7 of the WS, it’s given the same WPA as a tie breaking HR off Jeff Weaver in the bottom of the 9th on April 1st. It doesn’t handle ball parks either. Just if situation X happens during situation Y, how often did it contribute to winning the game.

      • spudchukar - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:37 PM

        I choose not to waste my time researching WPA, when I saw that it rated, Corey Hart’s, Chris Heisey’s, and Adam Kennedy’s 3 Homer performances above Pujols’. The scores in those games were 11-2, 10-2, and 13-5. I understand the intent behind the stat, but since its conclusions are so ridiculous, I stand by my “meaningless” classification.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:58 PM

        I understand the intent behind the stat, but since its conclusions are so ridiculous

        I doubt it. Here’s the context for each game:

        Pujols’s 1st – 8-6 in the 6th
        Pujols’s 2nd – 12-6 in the 7th
        Pujols’s 3rd – 15-7 in the 9th

        Hart’s 1st – 0-0 in the 1st
        Hart’s 2nd – 3-1 in the 5th
        Hart’s 3rd – 7-1 in the 8th

        Heisley 1st – 0-0 in the 1st
        Heisley 2nd – 2-1 in the 5th
        Heisley 3rd – 8-2 in the 8th

        Both Heisley’s and Hart’s first two HR happened earlier than Pujols’s first, and the scores were a lot closer. By the time Pujols hit his second, the Cards were already up 6 runs in the 7th inning. By the time Pujols was up for his second, the Cards already had 98% chance to win the game so it was essentially meaningless.

      • spudchukar - Oct 24, 2011 at 7:09 PM

        Here was the headline presumably by the author of the piece, “Albert Pujols’ Not Very Good 3-HR Game”. Then the author resorts to WPA for support. Not a very good 3 HR Game? The all-time TB (a much under appreciated stat) record, who ripped two early singles to help ignite the early St. Louis scores, in a game where the Rangers answered the first two St. Louis leads with strong comebacks. C’mon give me a break. Has common sense, been replaced by a stat flawed by temporal inequities?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 24, 2011 at 7:25 PM

        So the author isn’t allowed to provide context beyond the headline of the article? Should the title have been “Albert Pujols Hits 3HR in a Game but Due to Circumstances They Didn’t Help His Team as Much as These Other 3 HR Games did for Their Teams”? That seems a bit long winded to me, doesn’t it?

        flawed by temporal inequities

        You didn’t even know what the stat was before hand, so how do you know it’s flawed? And it replaces common sense, because as shown in tons of threads here, and baseball announcing itself, common sense is often wrong.

      • paperlions - Oct 24, 2011 at 7:57 PM

        Oh yeah….I would just like to add that WPA for a single game is a completely moronic thing to calculate.

      • clydeserra - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:04 PM

        The post asks why should albert Pujols make more money because of his one great game in the world series.

        If you are saying he should make more because he had a great game, then I guess you forgot that the guy who hit the three home runs is Albert Freaking Pujols, he should get paid lots of money because he is the best player of his generation.

        It should have nothing to do with him having a good game when the rest of his team did too.

  6. spudchukar - Oct 24, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    If, St. Louis goes on to win the WS, and/or if Pujols is declared WS MVP, then the pressure mounts on the Cardinal management to resign him.

    • technomatt1 - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:04 PM

      While John Q. Public and the St. Louis media will surely pressure management, I believe that a World Series win actually decreases the chance Sir Albert re-signs with the Cards.

      It is definitely counter-intuitive on its face, but how many chances will St. Louis realistically have to win a World Series in the next 5-7 years? The team is not built like a dynasty, and in a market not named Philadelphia, New York, or Boston, can’t afford to continue to add to payroll ad infinitum. If Mozeliak believes in the best case the Cardinals win one more World Series over the course of Pujols’ long contract, he may make the correct determination that his contract is not worth hobbling the franchise for the next 7-10 years. St. Louis has pretty much maxed out their best offer, but will probably add $3-$4 million per year for sentimentality. Any amount past that (which could easily be offered by the Cubs, Marlins, Nationals, Rangers, and Blue Jays) and Pujols will be gone if he goes to the highest bidder.

      The Cardinals will live to see another day, with sudden payroll flexibility and every major position filled on the roster (Berkman to 1B).

      • natstowngreg - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:28 PM

        The Nats have been associated with Albert and Prince, but I doubt they will be the highest bidder. Not that they can’t make a big offer; the Werth signing and high bid for Teixeira showed that.

        Rizzo could fill a couple of holes of higher priority (SP, CF) for less than the price of one of them, and use some of the spare cash to extend Ryan Zimmerman. Then at some point, Bryce Harper comes up to play LF and Michael Morse moves back to 1B (if, of course, Harper continues to progress in the minors). At least, that’s what this Nats fan hopes for.

      • bigharold - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:29 PM

        ” Any amount past that (which could easily be offered by the Cubs, Marlins, Nationals, Rangers, and Blue Jays) ….”

        You left out the Yankees.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 24, 2011 at 7:06 PM

        he may make the correct determination that his contract is not worth hobbling the franchise for the next 7-10 years

        Except Pujols won’t hobble the franchise as long as he keeps producing. It’s the other long term contracts you have to worry about. Contrary to that ridiculous Arod article earlier, it wasn’t his contract that screwed the Rangers, it was all the other money Hicks threw around (Chan Ho Park, Oliver, Gonzalez, etc).

        If the Cards re-sign Pujols and then toss a $50M deal at someone like Lidge, give Berkman $45M and Theroit $40M, that’s a recipe for disaster. If they re-sign Pujols and keep all the other contracts at correct value, they should be fine.

  7. purnellmeagrejr - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Whomever pays Pujols 200-250 million over 8 or 10 years will experience the remorse of someone who marries a girl who’s just starting to put on weight. Say five years from now …

  8. paperlions - Oct 24, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    I don’t see how this performance changes anything at all…everyone that is surprised in the slightest by Pujols’ performance this post season raise your hand. Nobody? Right….because everyone already knew he was this good…while it will certain affect the narrative in the press and among casual fans, it won’t move an owner to throw more money at him than he would have based on the previous 10 years of excellence….and if it does, you have a really dumb owner (and Omar Minaya as GM).

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