Cardinals Need to Pull Out All The Stops To Keep Pujols in St. Louis

Posted: February 15, 2011 in News
Albert Pujols

St. Louis needs to give "The Machine" whatever kind of contract he asks for. The fate of their organization depends on it (ESPN.com).

When the Yankees signed Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year, $275M contract in December 2007, skeptics called New York idiots for locking up a player who was 32 years old at the time for a decade deal and a nine digit salary.

Fans in St. Louis who criticized the Yankees should bite their tongues.

They’re debating doing the exact same thing.

Albert Pujols has been a three-time MVP, World Series champion, Rookie of the Year, and batting champion. He’s also been a Cardinal since his career began in 2001.

But when all is said and done, will he still be with the organization after his current deal expires at the end of this season?

The Cardinals and Pujols have tried to work out an extension prior to this season to avoid free agency from becoming a dark cloud that would undoubtedly loom over the 2011 season. The talks have gone nowhere though, and panic is starting to set in that “the machine” may decide to jump ship and test his values in the waters of free agency.

Pujols has publically said that he is looking for a 10-year deal. He has already shot down a short term offer the Cardinals proposed to try and avoid being handcuffed to a ridiculous contract.

If St. Louis can’t find the money or resources to give Pujols what he wants, there is no doubt he will vacate the city that has dubbed him the face of their franchise for the last nine years.

Many different factors play into this debate as well. Last year, the Red Birds also signed outfield slugger Matt Holliday to a 7-year, $120M deal. Would the team even consider spending somewhere in the ballpark of $45-$50M a season for their 3 and 4 hitters?

Plenty of contracts like what Pujols wants have fallen through. Players such as Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs (8-year, $134M), Barry Zito of the Giants (7-year, $126M), and the Yankees CC Sabathia (7-year, $161M) have all been proven to be average at the most. St. Louis has to fear that if they lock up a player who may be nearing the peak of his career for an extended amount of time, they too could find themselves financially burdened and unable to unload salaries.

The Cardinals have to give him whatever he wants. If he says he wants 10-years, $300M, St. Louis’s only response should be “and who do we make the check out to?”

Albert Pujols is the best hitter of his generation. He strikes fear into opposing teams similar to Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds did. He is the only player to hit 30 home runs, knock in 100 RBI, and hit .300 or better in every one of his first ten major league seasons.

He’s to put things into perspective. Pujols averages 40.8 home runs, 123 RBI, and a .331 every single season.

As Deion Sanders would say, pay the man.

Plenty of teams have already been rumored to want Pujols. The obvious suspects would be the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels. Plenty of talks in Chicago have the Cubs signing the St. Louis slugger after 2011. Remember, the move for Carlos Pena to man first base is a one-year deal. In my eyes, he’s basically a rental with no risk until the Cubs can enter the Pujols Derby.

This last summer should have taught us plenty about how free agency can totally turn a sport upside down. The NBA experienced a frantic free agency period like none other before it. We all remember how every sports station, news channel, and newspaper had coverage of their city’s basketball team with all the financial additions they can make.

It was fantasy basketball turned reality.

Pujols means more to the Cardinals that Jeter to the Yankees, Mauer to the Twins, Wright to the Mets, or Longoria to the Rays. Not signing him and paying for his services will be the end of Cardinals baseball for years to come.

It is extremely risky, somewhat impulsive, and very committing, but it has to be done. Pujols must remain in red and white.

Brett Lyons can be reached on Twitter. Follow him at @TheLYONSDen89.

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