Hot Stove Targeting: Albert Pujols
On Monday, the Yankees and C.C Sabathia pleased the fan base by agreeing to extend his contract before Sabathia was going to opt out. Brian Cashman has kept most of the team together from 2010.
But, Yankee fans can dream can they? That dream has a man wearing number 5 and wearing two championship rings from his days with the St. Louis Cardinals. Yes, I am talking about first baseman Albert Pujols. Pujols even had a game in the World Series that was reminiscent of another former Yankee, Reggie Jackson, in Game 3 against the Rangers.
Most people think Pujols will stay in St. Louis, but with the latest news of the retirement of manager Tony La Russa, will Albert stick around if he does not like the new manager?
Let’s take a look at my player evaluation of Pujols:
- No Breaking Down: Pujols shows no signs of breaking down anytime soon. In his 11 seasons in the league, Albert has had at least 30 home runs and 99 RBI’s every single season. This shows Yankee fans that at least this guy will not pull an Alex Rodriguez and eventually have hip issues. He also hits .300 every single season, except for last year when he hit .299. This guy is the true definition of a machine.
- Postseason Success: When you are the Yankees, you look at what is going to help you win the World Series. It is not about the regular season numbers. Albert takes his regular season success and brings it into the cold October and November months. In 15 series, Pujols is hitting .330 with 18 HR’s and 52 RBI’s. Even though he struggled in the other six games of the World Series, we know Albert is capable of having that one game that can change a series.
- 1. He is going to want a lot of dinero!: We know this from watching any sport. When a player experiences the thrill of free agency for the first time, they are going to want to soak it in and embrace it for as long as they can (i.e Cliff Lee). If I am Pujols, I ask for the highest paid contract in baseball history. It depends upon whether or not he is going to give the Cardinals a discount. Right now, Albert is looking at obtaining at least $200 million. I think he deserves A-Rod money at minimum because of two World Series rings and he shows no signs of wearing down anytime soon.
- 2. Who’s On First? Albert Pujols is a great first baseman and it is not just because of his bat. His glove is what makes his impact to a team so great as well. He does not make many errors at the position (2nd in the NL with 11) and his putouts at first base are in the top five in all of baseball. The only problem is there are not many teams like the Yankees who need a first baseman at this point when they have a great defensive player in Mark Teixeira who can hit 35+ HR and drive in 100+ RBI’s.
Does He Fit in For the Yanks: Pujols fits in for the Yankees in terms of an offensive perspective. Yankee fans were so angry that the team could not get a clutch hit in the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers. Well, Pujols is more than likely going to get that hit. Plus, teams would oitch around him giving players like A-Rod and Teixeira more pitches to hit in the bottom of that lineup. The problem is Albert has nowhere to play in the field unless he wants to go back to playing the outfield, but the re-signing of Swisher probably does not help that cause.
Prediction: Before I get to my prediction, here is what Tim Dierkes, the head writer of MLB Trade Rumors put for his top 50 Free Agent Predictions:
Albert Pujols – Cardinals. The Cubs, Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners, Rangers, Marlins, Nationals, and Dodgers are other potential suitors, but a significant premium would be required to lure away the longtime Cardinal. $225-230MM over nine years seems a fair compromise for the Cardinals and their superstar first baseman.
I do think the Cubs can be a real serious player on Pujols. This is the perfect move for Theo Epstein to spurn a hated rival in his first month or so on the job. However, I see Prince Fielder as more of a viable option for them than Albert. Do I think Pujols deserves the salary of the highest paid player? Yes, I do! Do I think he gets it? No, I think he gets around $240 million and stays with the St. Louis Cardinals for the rest of his career. That does not mean though Yankee fans can’t dream about seeing Pujols in pinstripes!