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Don’t hate on Pujols for taking the money and running

Dec 8, 2011, 10:57 AM EDT

Albert Pujols AP

We’ll talk soon about whether it was wise for the Angels to give Albert Pujols a friggin’ quarter of a billion dollars, but for now, let’s look at this from Pujols’ perspective.

As soon as the news hit the wire I saw people — Cardinals fans mostly — starting to slam the man they’ve cheered for the past decade. Watching the tweets flow, I saw the word “greedy” thrown around. I saw people talking about how he would now be hated in St. Louis. I  saw him called “Pujol$.”  Cut it out, will ya?

This was no betrayal of the Cardinals by Albert Pujols. The Cardinals, as best can be told, never really got much higher than the bids they’ve had out for a few days. Probably ten years. $220 million at best, but some people are saying it was actually less.  The Angels came in a good $30-40 million more than the nearest bid.  How much of a hometown discount is the guy supposed to give?

The people booing this move on loyalty grounds would all switch jobs for more money in a heartbeat. Every single one of them. Pujols’ move is no different. And to suggest that he owes the Cardinals something greater — after delivering two World Series championships and nearly unprecedented excellence for 11 seasons — is nonsense.

The Angels paid the man. The Cardinals wouldn’t. It’s that simple.

199 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. klbader - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    With the Dodgers slogging through difficult times and being largely noncompetitive, the Angels aren’t just looking to strengthen themselves against the American League competition. They are making a strong play on becoming THE Los Angeles team. I know that the Dodgers have to fall a long way for the Angels to take over the top spot in LA, but signing a guy like Pujols is a big step in the right direction. $260 million to become better on the field and take a big step towards dominating the second largest market in baseball seems like almost a bargain to me.

  2. Marty - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    I disagree. Like you said it is quarter billion for Christ’s sake. St Louis’ offer was close to a quarter billion.

    There is no reasonable argument that the extra $30M was necessary or even helpful to Pujols’ financial situation. This was pure ego in wanting to be the highest paid player of all time, a desire that stood in front of all else, including loyalty.

    In the face of what happened, why should Cards fans remain loyal to this man? This is a prime s-talking opportunity, and Albert deserves it.

  3. pkswally024 - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    You’d think the cards didn’t win the WS with the way they’re acting.

    • stlouis1baseball - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:25 AM

      Wally: Then you simply don’t understand.

  4. cjpunk15 - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    I can’t stand when writers’ do this… Comparing an everyday 9-5 job to playing professional sports. These athletes don’t have financial hardships and if they do it’s self inflicted by being careless or over indulge themselves on expensive off field hobbies… Is there really a difference between 220 million and 260 million… You and your family will be set for generations… Your grand kids, grand kids will have money for college and live comfortably their entire lives. So that’s why Cards fans and sports fans in general “hate” on premier athletes when they chase money. Pujols didn’t pull a LeBron James but in essence showed their sense of loyalty.

    • phillyphreak - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:26 AM

      “Pujols didn’t pull a LeBron James but in essence showed their sense of loyalty.”

      Perhaps Pujols’ sense of loyalty was to his family. And perhaps he interpreted this to mean all the extra money means that he can provide even more for his kids, grandkids, great-grandkids. Face it athletes live a different lifestyle and in different monetary worlds.

      • cemdinc - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:37 AM

        Stop with the “he’s looking out for his family” crap. Pretty sure the Pujols family was doing just fine financially before this contract. If we come to find out that Pujols’ wife and kids didn’t like St. Louis (which would be hard to believe since he’s already signed a 7 year deal there), or something like that, fine, I guess.

      • phillyphreak - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:19 PM

        Ok then. What should he have done?

      • cintiphil - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:24 PM

        Take the money of course.

  5. isu1648 - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    I do not believe in hometown discounts, and i do not believe in hold outs. I believe each player has the right to negotiate the best contract they can, as it is proven more often than not that you get what you are worth. Get the best deal, and play out the contract in good faith. Same goes for guys who hold out…play out your contract in good faith and get paid after. its a contract for a reason, otherwise everything would be a handshake deal. Don’t fault Pujols at all, hometown discounts are just as much BS as a hold out.

  6. cintiphil - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    Does this mean that the statue has to be moved to LA? I love this!

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:47 AM

      Was the Cardinals offer serious?

  7. stlducks - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    I’m not mad he left, I’m mad he took forever and the cards lost time going for other FAs

    • msuwebmanager - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:23 AM

      Agree with that, stlducks. Reyes, Wilson, Bell, all were snapped up while we waited. And now Dotel even got tired of waiting for the Cards to talk to him and is going to the Tigers.

      • cggarb - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:37 AM

        Consider yourself lucky you didn’t have the opportunity to overspend on a relief pitcher.

  8. msuwebmanager - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    I like Albert. He gave me 11 great years with the Cards. But I have no doubt this was all about being paid more than Howard, more than Fielder, and more than everyone else in baseball except A-Rod.

  9. thefalcon123 - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Meh, I think most of the anger comes from shock. In the past few days, Pujols was going to be almost certainly a Marlin, then a Cardinal, then a Marlin again, the almost certainly a Cardinal and now an angel.

    The guy put up arguably the greatest 10 year span in team history. If the Cardinals had offered him $1,000,000 and the Angels $40,000,000, people would still be pissed and cry sell-out. It’s just what’s gonna happen. They’ll get over it. My irrational hatred has already shifted away from Albert and onto Dewitt. C’mon Bill! You’re a billionaire!

    • aaronmoreno - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:35 AM

      Good call. The $30 million that means “nothing” to Pujols’ lifestyle means even less to Dewitt.

    • cintiphil - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:29 PM

      He is a rich guy, but he is rich because he doesn’t throw his money away. That makes him smart. You guys in St. Louis have to calm down. You have enough talent to try and repeat in the central. With Wainwright coming back, you will have at least 3 stud starters, and that is more than the Reds hope to have. The Reds have just one guy and several “potential” starters, even with Chapman. Who by the way, may never be a starter because of continuing shoulder problems. Tommy John can fix the elbow, but nothing can help the shoulder.

  10. davenstl - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Pujols deserved a big payday from the Cardinals because he’s been a bargain for 11 years. That being said, the Angels are fools. Good for you Albert, thanks for the memories and when you’re hitting .250 in a few years the Cardinal fans that are bashing you now will be looking west and laughing at Anaheim.

  11. stlouis1baseball - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Craig: I sincerely appreciate what he has done for the Organization. As Cardinals fans…we were honored with having someone who will ultimately be one of the all time greats on our team for 111 years. With this in mind…do NOT tell me to cut it out. He has always maintained that winning…regular playoff appearances and routinely competing for WS titles are his #1 priority as his family is already set for life. With that in mind…it should have been obvious it WAS about the monies when he turned down the reported 22Million a year prior to Spring Training. After all…he made numerous playoff appearances, competed in 3 World Series and won TWO while with St. Louis. I realize the Angels are NOT the Marlins, Cubs or several other teams with regards to W-L records. But can someone please do a quick search and advise to the number of playoff appearances and WS titles the Angels have won in the last 11 years? I am too pissed off to dick with it.

    • umrguy42 - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:36 AM

      Don’t know about playoff appearances (several, I believe), but the Angels DID win the ’02 Series. They *are* (or at least try to be) a contending team. (If he’d gone to the Marlins, I coulda added that to my “hypocrite” list).

    • aaronmoreno - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:38 AM

      6 appearances, and one title.

    • cggarb - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:46 AM

      The Angels won 909 games over the past 10 seasons. Five division titles, plus a wild card, and a World Series.

      The Cards won 901. Five division titles, plus a wild card, and 2 World Series.

      Over this time, the NL has clearly been the easier league, and it’s ridiculous to claim that the Angels are not equal to the Cardinals in performance.

      If you consider that one team is willing to spend $325M on free agents in a day (Pujols and Wilson), and the other just lost its long-term manager…. well, you’d have to be pretty STL-myopic to say he’s “just taking the money.”

      • stlouis1baseball - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:05 PM

        CG: I am talking true success. By that I mean playoff success. Your 909 wins and NL is weaker comment doesn’t hold water.
        In 11 years: 8 playoff appearances, 3 World Series (w/ TWO Titles). Enough said.

  12. stlouis1baseball - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    Craig (back at you again): Your comment about the people booing this (and there are numerous people doing so that are NOT Cardinals fans) would leave for more monies…are NOT multi-millionaires who couldn’t possibly spend there EXISTING monies in their entire lifetime.
    Saying someone making $35,000 , $50,000 $75,000 would leave for more monies is laughable.
    There simply is NO comparison because those people are NOT making money hand over fist.

  13. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    If Alberst doesn’t want to hear the hate, he can (a) turn down the Angels and sign with the Cardinals, or (b) build a $250MM compound with armed guards and censored television.

    Let’s be realistic, everyone hates on guys who sign deals like this. While Pujols has a better reputation coming in to this deal, this is no different than ARod opting out of his last contract knowing he could get more. We either hate on Pujols now, or send apology cards to ARod for the crap thrown his way back then.

  14. wisdomrules - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    Can the man not make more money AND have other perks (its not just about the money) reasons to goto Anaheim? Come on people give him a break. It’s a 10 year deal… There is no way he could field (well) for that long. So eventually he would lose playing/balling opportunities. This was he can be a DH in the future and still get his AB, where in St Louis he would be riding the pine.

  15. shea801 - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    I am absolutely allowed to lament about my favorite player leaving my favorite team because the other made him an offer 12% higher than my team. Especially when that 12% is an amount he’ll never recognize, but I don’t begrudge the man for doing it. It’s his life, his family, his Foundation’s that will benefit for a long time, but as a fan I’m allowed to grieve the loss.

    That being said, and feeling a little stung, I’m glad that five years from now the Cardinals’ aren’t wallowing near the bottom of the division because they can’t afford a middle infield or a bullpen because we have a first baseman who’s only playing half a season because of constant injuries that have previously only nagged him during a season are now keeping him from playing at all.

    • paperlions - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:50 AM

      …and he won’t see a large portion of that 12% because of difference in taxes between the states.

  16. lewsiv - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    This move was all about money. I am sure if the Cards made a similar offer he would have stayed. You can’t ignore that much of a pay bump. As a cards fan I am happy and sad. I don’t like 10 year contracts for 32 year old player.

    I do think MLB overall is a bit diminished when an icon leaves a storied franchise.

  17. phillyphreak - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    Awesome tweet from Jay Jaffe: “General rule of this biz: if it’s not about the money, then it’s about respect, and respect = money in the eyes of theplayers. No escaping that.”

  18. drewsylvania - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    Let’s not hate him for taking the money. Let’s bate him for being religious. It’s the Tebow thing to do.

  19. thefalcon123 - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    Umm…wow. The St. Louis Post Dispatch site has given up an illusions of objectivity:

    Headline: PUJOLS TURNS HIS BACK ON ST. LOUIS
    “Three-time MVP had said he hoped to be a “Cardinal for life.” But he’s leaving St. Louis to sign a $250 million deal with the Angels.”

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports

    • cggarb - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:48 AM

      They know where their bread is buttered.

  20. jason9696 - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    What an insane contract. The guy is almost 32 years old (maybe even older). There’s no way he’ll still be playing in 10 years time. I hope he tanks in L.A. and the Angels will have two of the worst contracts with him and Vernon Wells.

  21. bkertz - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    I hope someone calls Albert out on his quotes saying he won’t leave St. Louis for $3-4mil/year: http://thecardinalnationblog.com/2011/02/16/pujols-contract-remarks-from-spring-2009-and-2010/

    • stlouis1baseball - Dec 8, 2011 at 5:08 PM

      Bkertz: Me too…but you gotta’ be man enough to allow yourself to be interviewed.
      My guess…he hides all Winter.

  22. stabonerichard - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    Wow, I really didn’t think big Al would leave St. Louis. I gave it less than 10% chance and thought all this noise was simply a negotiation tactic to get the Cards to tack on a few extra million.

    Then again, by this point I guess I’m dumb to be surprised at all when another superstar free agent lands in one of the top-5 markets.

    Upon hearing the news and reading some of the immediate reaction, what popped in my head was Jered Weaver’s comments after he went against the Boras/MLBPA grain to sign his extension for less than max dollar:

    “If $85 (million) is not enough to take care of my family and other generations of families then I’m pretty stupid, but how much money do you really need in life?” Weaver said Tuesday. “I’ve never played this game for the money. I played it for the love and the competitive part of it. It just so happens that baseball’s going to be taking care of me for the rest of my life.”

    Albert & his agent did ultimately end up with a deal that will pay him significantly more $$ than the Cards–or any other club–were reportedly offering. On the surface anyway. Money certainly doesn’t stretch in So-Cal the way it does in the midwest, or virtually any other part of the country. So I’m not sure how much Albert actually came out ahead, financially speaking. But the MLBPA will be happy, his much-maligned agent is no doubt ecstatic, and the switch to the AL is likely to be a huge benefit to Albert over the next 10 years, allowing him to be slotted in at the DH spot.

  23. blueintown - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    To those bemoaning the lack of difference between $220m and $250m: At what point is the difference in millions irrelevant? What’s the cutoff? $200m? $150m? Is $100m the same as $110m?

    This was an auction, and he went to the highest bidder. Welcome to America. And in reality, the Cardinals are better off in the long run for it. 10 yrs and $250m is some baaaaad paper.

  24. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    People don’t distinguish loyalty at their office jobs to loyalty as an athlete. It really is different – I can understand some of the hate Pujols is getting. Sorry folks, but I do. Not saying I agree, but I understand.

    That said, he made himself happy, he made the MLBPA happy, and he made his new team happy. I myself am curious to see the two-headed race in the AL West again.

  25. drewsylvania - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    I think Dan Szymborski said it best on Twitter:

    “You guys got the Beatles, the Angels get the solo stuff.”

    Pujols is probably a few years older than his listed age. He’s already in his theoretical decline years. First basemen tend to age less gracefully than players at most other positions.

    Cards fans might hate it now, but eventually they’ll be thankful it’s not their team saddled with the albatross last four or five years of that deal.

    • aaronmoreno - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:07 PM

      Yeah, but the solo stuff still produced its share of hits.

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