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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. lanjoith - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    Hmm, the consistency of California weather or the extremes of Missouri … No comparison. I was driving from Colorado to Georgia a few years ago and got off the freeway in St. Louis to get some food. I got back on so fast and drove another half hour before I got off to get food. I was genuinely scared for my family’s safety. It made Compton, CA look like Beverly Hills. What a shithole.

    • aaronmoreno - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:11 PM

      If you were driving from Colorado to Georgia, then what do you know about Compton?

      I’m an Angels fan, and there’s no reason or point to puffing up Los Angeles or knocking St. Louis right now.

    • materialman80 - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:17 PM

      An unfair comment I believe. St. Louis is no different then Memphis, Atlanta, Detroit or any other big US City. There are good areas and bad areas. That’s just the way it is.

    • stlouis1baseball - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:18 PM

      Spoken like a truly pompous dipshit. Thanks for sharing.

    • cintiphil - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:19 PM

      I have been to St. Lou for many trips on business. I went to a lot of games, and Never would call the place a shit hole. I think you may have been in E. St. Louis, Illinois.

      • stlouis1baseball - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:49 PM

        Hahaha! Yeah…we was looking to score in East St. Louis.

  2. drewsylvania - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    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.

    • cintiphil - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:21 PM

      I have heard that before, but I doubt it. He is in great condition, and still looks like he heals very fast. How does an old timer get to heal a broken wrist in two weeks?

  3. e5again - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    Yes, 30-40 million is a ton of cash to leave on the table. But it’s only approxmiately 15 to 20% more. Would anyone leave their job for the same position in LA? I know I wouldn’t.

  4. drewsylvania - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    And, let’s face it, people are hating on Pujols because it’s fashionable to do such things now.

  5. stabonerichard - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    If you consider the reality of the situation, with things like cost of living factored in, is there really much difference between $250M in So-Cal vs. $220M in St. Louis? Hell, I’d imagine the latter is a more favorable financial situation.

    But to say Albert’s decision simply came down to the total dollar figure on the contract is a pretty lazy assessment, IMO. This was obviously a huge life decision, personally & professionally, individually and for his family, so there were certainly a number of factors that played into it. The Cards’ initial lowball offer last year, to TLR’s retirement, to the DH flexibility he’ll have with the switch to the AL which could be a huge benefit in him maintaining his health/production over the next 10 years, etc. And I doubt the wife was opposed to the idea of moving to So-Cal… for folks who have the money to hack it, pretty damn nice place to be.

  6. okwhitefalcon - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    This is all on Bill Dewitt and John Mozeliak, it never should’ve got to this point and it did.

    The Cardinals have gone from a franchise with leadership and star power to one without an identity just a month removed from it’s 11th World Championship.

  7. Old Gator - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    “Theoretical decline”??? Hey, it’s good to see that the second law of thermodynamics applies to baseball too – even to designatedhitterball.

    Me, I’m happy for Albert. He’ll find a warm receptacle for his faux-spritiuality in southern California. Me, I’m just relieved that the Feesh knew when to cut bait. I’ll take Buehrle and whomever else they pick up this weenter instead of a payroll crippled by an albatross commitment to one ballplayer.

    • drewsylvania - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:57 AM

      His spirituality is feigned?

  8. richeich - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    It boils down to this. The owners started this by paying the players too much, and more than they are worth for.that kind of salary, and remain competitive, and then the fans pay for the HIGH salaries. How do they do this? The owners charge more, and more for tickets, drinks etc. The players get paid more, and we are asked to pay more. When does it stop?. I’m a Cardinals fan for 45 years. I’m sorry to see him go,but the Cardinals can’t afford him, and remain competitive. For Saint Louis sake good, I’m glad he is gone. It is all about money, and now Anaheim has to worry when he isn’t producing in 5 to 6 years, and he has a 10 year guaranteed contract.
    The Cardinals can remain competitive for years to come. Besides he’s past his prime, and isn’t worth 260 million for another 10 years!

    • aaronmoreno - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:58 AM

      That’s actually not how they do that.

  9. Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 8, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    Man, Dirty Dan Lozano will be able to afford plenty of extra hookers now. So there’s that, which is nice.

  10. piffle1961 - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    This will break Stan’s heart..but realistically w/out the dh to fall back on , no NL team, including the cards could spend that much money on a 31 yr old player…not even Albert. He deserves the money and he got it..which means more funding for his charities. No problem with that, as far as I am concerned.

    Time to move on. My earliest memories are playing in the yard listening to Buck call the game in the mid 60’s. I have loved the cards before Albert and still will and still do. And when spring rolls around, I will still listen to every game to the bitter end, just like I always have.

    • djpostl - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:14 PM

      Amen. Players come and go, some bring us joy then break our hearts. But we will ALWAYS love our team, right to the very end.

    • stlouis1baseball - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:52 PM

      Absolutely Piffle. I was a Cardinals fan long before A.P. came on board. Doesn’t mean I have to like him lying to everyone though. Yeah…I want to win. Cardinal for life. Why would I leave for 3 or 4 million more a year? I have made my money. Total bullshit.

  11. djpostl - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Cards fans, be thankful he took the money and ran. As a Yankees fan I cringe watching Arod fall apart before our very eyes, still owing $160 mil or so to him. And we can actually afford to eat that kind of a money pit on our roster, whereas you could not.

    Three years from now Angles fans are going to be regretting this big time while you think of how fortunate you were to dodge this bullet.

    Time catches up to every man, especially in a non-HGH/steroids era.

  12. StayAnchoredinHope - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    I make roughly $80K this year as a Chief in the Navy (with everything factored in). If someone offered me $130K a year to do the same thing I do here (with assurances I’d get paid for the next 10 years at least), then I’d wave “bye-bye” to the Navy in a heartbeat, despite being less than 6 years away from drawing a military retirement for the rest of my life. Of course, a huge part of that would be the prospect of not going underway all the time (I’m on my second straight deployment to the Persian Gulf over the holidays-which accounts for a good portion of my increased pay this year), but maybe the same can be said for the better weather in LA vs. STL.

    As much as people want to say it’s all about the money, I’m sure that all factors were accounted for, just as they would be should I chose to chase a job outside of the Navy-for instance, I wouldn’t even think about getting out for $100K, because my health benefits are worth a big part of that, not to mention (as I stated), I’m nearing my retirement (when I’ll be 42) and another $20K isn’t enough to off-set that. Plus, are we talking about a $130K job in San Diego (where I’ve been stationed for 13 years) or in the Midwest? There’s definitely two sides to that-one, the expense of S.D., and the fact that $130K would go a lot further in the Midwest; second, man, I really love the Southern California weather…However, weather be damned, if I got that job in the Midwest and wifey was OK with the move (and all other dominoes fell into place), then I’d jump ship (pun intended) and leave the Navy.

    That’s all Pujols did-he took everything into account that was a factor for his family and made the decision that he/they felt was best for him/them. That’s what free agency is for, so good for him.

    • stlouis1baseball - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:48 PM

      Navy Chief: I sincerely appreciate where you are coming from. However, the difference is…you haven’t made more monies thus far in your career than you could ever hope to spend. As a result, it doesn’t correlate. Please know I do NOT begrudge anyone as a result of them wanting more monies. The Cardinals were offering $22per year (about 3 – 4 less a year than what he ultimately agreed to with the Angels.
      The only issue I (and many others) have is this…
      “Do I want to be in St. Louis forever? Of course,” Pujols said. “…People from other teams want to play in St. Louis and they’re jealous that we’re in St. Louis because the fans are unbelievable. So why would you want to leave a place like St. Louis to go somewhere else and make $3 or $4 more million a year? It’s not about the money. I already got my money. It’s about winning and that’s it.”

      –Albert Pujols, 15 February 2009

  13. materialman80 - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    No sense in hating anybody. He had great years in St. Louis, he chose to move on. I certainly have no hard feelings and wish him the best. He would have been revered as much as Musial had he stayed, but I guess the money is more important then that to him. We all have to do what we have to do. A quarter of a billion dollars is an unreal number to me for anybody to be paid, but that’s sports today.

  14. Chris Fiorentino - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    We are into a third page of comments on a thread where there isn’t a debate over Ryan Howard, WAR, Sabremetrics, the Phillies, or the moving of American jobs overseas. I guess maybe I underestimated how much Cardinals fans love, or should I say LOVED, this guy.

    Yeah, I got all Caps Locky on you guys.

    • cemdinc - Dec 8, 2011 at 3:28 PM

      Didn’t realize the message board on hardballtalk was completely indicative of how every Cardinals fan feels…

  15. florida727 - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    Sorry, Craig, love your work, but not this time. “The Angels paid the man. The Cardinals wouldn’t. It’s that simple.” Seriously? TWO HUNDRED TWENTY MILLION !!! How many more generations of family need to be provided for? Holy crap! BTW, any idea what the tax differential is between California and Missouri? That $30-40 million “difference” might not be a great as you think.

    Then again, I think Pujols’ agent may have had more to do with the decision than Pujols himself did. He’d go wherever his agent tells him to go. Face it, he’s a hired gun. First, his agent does a sales job on the team… then he does one on Albert. That’s how deals get done.

    • drewsylvania - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:39 PM

      Every team has to set a limit on what they’ll spend on a player. We don’t know why the limit is set, but it’s there.

  16. buffalomafia - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    He can do what he wants! Plus California has hotter woman than the fat chow hounds from St. Louis! What would you do?

    • florida727 - Dec 8, 2011 at 1:05 PM

      “Fat chow hounds”? This, coming from someone with a screen name of BUFFALO MA (presumably now living in FLA). :) Hard to argue the premise though. And yes, I do know what I would do…

  17. eagles512 - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    Terrible article. And I hate when people say everyone would leave for more money. It’s all relative. With the money he’s made and will make, you could say someone making 100k is offered 150 k to move across the country. If their current company offers 135k, do you really think that person is leaving and uprooting his family when his current company was more than generous in giving a raise.

  18. themuddychicken - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    “It isn’t all about the money” is very different from “It isn’t at all about the money.” Was he not supposed to factor in money at all? Take a hometown discount for the entirety of his career? I hate to see him leave the Cardinals (I love all-time greats that only play for one team), but I have a hard time imagining that he owed it to anyone to take less money to play in St. Louis.

  19. hushbrother - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    As with the LeBron situation, it’s management that’s really to blame here. If the Cardinals really didn’t want to lose Pujols, they should have locked him up a long time ago. Gilbert should have offered LeBron 10 years and 300 million back in 2009. He didn’t, and guess what happened?

    If you allow the possibility that a player COULD leave, you increase the odds very highly that he WILL leave.

  20. phillyphreak - Dec 8, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    So with the new report that the Marlins deal was worth 275 million, is Pujols still greedy?

    • stlouis1baseball - Dec 8, 2011 at 4:55 PM

      Phreeak: That figure is total BS.

      • phillyphreak - Dec 8, 2011 at 6:11 PM

        Bob Nightengale reported that figure and followed up saying the Cards offer was the lowest of four offers Pujols received. It could be total hogwash but it’s out there.

  21. cup0pizza - Dec 8, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    Another sanctimonious, smug article by Calcaterra. There’s a surprise.

  22. msgiants2010 - Dec 8, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    For a player who quite justifiably considers himself the best in the game, one who has been underpaid throughout the duration of his career, why should he consent to being only the fourth highest-paid first baseman in the league? I can’t blame Pujols for not wanting to be paid less than inferior players like Mark Teixiera or Ryan Howard.

  23. florida727 - Dec 8, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    Albert Pujols: baseball’s answer to LeBron James.

    • drewsylvania - Dec 8, 2011 at 2:17 PM

      Albert didn’t make an hourlong “special” to rub it in.

  24. nategearhart - Dec 8, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    If someone paid me more money to not live in St. Louis, I’d jump on it, too.

  25. deathmonkey41 - Dec 8, 2011 at 2:10 PM


    You should blame your pinko friends for the backlash- they’re the ones trying to elict class warfare in this country by painting rich and successful people as evil- and also as the reason that other people are not rich and succesful. Now poor Albert has to suffer because they’re trying to cloud the election issues with fear and hatred…and by “poor” Albert, I don’t mean moneywise…he’s rich, beech!!!!

    • drewsylvania - Dec 8, 2011 at 2:20 PM

      Rich people aren’t evil–nor do I think Craig is saying this. But the practice of making blanket statements is pretty lousy.

      And the practice of keeping the wealth aggregated among the 1% is not a practice to be continued.

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