Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Albet Pujols Got Robbed

In the mind of Albert Pujols the formula is simple. If you put up huge video game like numbers, become the best player in baseball, carry yourself with honor and dignity, and remain relatively healthy while still in your prime you will be rewarded with a 10 year contract. The logic is not flawed. This is the same formula that was used when Alex Rodriguez signed his 10 year 275 million dollar contract. With the precedence already established Albert Pujols went into negotiations this winter with a clear conscience and and expectation of his value. Albert anticipated the security of a 10 year deal in line with the top salaries in baseball (roughly 30 million). Instead the St. Louis Cardinals offered 5 years and a little less money (22-25 million per season). Where did things go wrong?

The market has changed. In the past owners jumped at the chance to lock up the best player in baseball for an extended period of time, but the Alex Rodriguez experiment has exposed the risks involved with such a lengthy guaranteed contract. Over the past two seasons Alex's production has tapered off dramatically, he's become more susceptible to injury at his age (36 in July), and his salary makes it impossible to trade him. Even if the Yankees wanted to move him there's no other team that can afford to pay him 32 million dollars a season. The St. Louis Cardinals watched the Rodriguez saga unfold and decided a 10 year contract put their team in jeopardy for the future. If things didn't go exactly as planned the Cardinals would find themselves in a hole they couldn't dig themselves out of. The St. Louis market doesn't have enough revenue streams to off set a contract that large.

Albert Pujols may get his 10 year deal when it's all said and done, but it won't be in St. Louis. If he doesn't come down on his demands slightly he is destined to become a Chicago Cub next year. It's not his fault the economics of baseball have changed significantly over the last 5 years, but he will suffer the consequences. It no longer makes financial sense to commit that much time and money to one player. If you want to blame someone for the new economic climate blame Alex Rodriguez. He's shown us that father time catches up with everyone and when he does you don't want to be stuck owing 150 million dollars for an asset with diminishing returns. Too bad Albert, you were so close to breaking the bank.

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