Friday, January 21, 2011

Phat Albert's Days In St. Louis Are Numbered

Earlier this week Albert Pujols gave the St. Louis Cardinals till the start of spring training to offer him a contract or he will wait until the end of the season to re-evaluate his situation. Let the speculation begin. It's not as if the Cardinals didn't see this coming. At the end of last year Albert Pujols expressed his desire to remain in St. Louis for his entire career and was confident a deal would get done. 5 months later his confidence is waning.

The more time elapses without a deal in place the more ego and paranoia become a factor in the negotiations. I won't bore you with a page full of statistics, but Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball and at his current pace will retire as one of the 5 greatest baseball players ever. It's only natural for a player of his stature to wonder what more he has to prove, what is taking so long, and if the Cardinals really want him. The Cardinals definitely want him, but there are 3 major obstacles preventing a deal from getting done.

1. Small market syndrome. The Cardinals routinely draw 3 million fans to the ball park, but the team doesn't have enough revenue streams to offset a $200,000,000 contract. There's no billion dollar TV deals or merchandising schemes to generate profits.

2. There's no salary cap. In reality once you achieve a certain level of greatness there's really only 6 or 7 teams that can afford to pay what the market will dictate for your services. There is no limit to what a team can spend on a player and the teams with deep pockets have an unfair advantage.

3. He's too good. Everyone wants a first basemen that hits over .300 with 40+ home runs and 120+ RBI's. Those are video game numbers. At the age of 31 Albert Pujols still has 7 more dominant years left and there's not a team in baseball (including the Yankees) that would turn down that kind of production if they could get it.

In the end I don't think Albert Pujols will play his entire career in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform. The best player in baseball will fetch a pretty penny and the financial obligation will be too much for the Cardinals to handle. He'll wind up in a big market playing for a team that won't appreciate him nearly as much as St. Louis and Phat Albert will be less happy, but the money will be too hard to pass up.

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