Blog Entry

What if ... the Cardinals let Pujols walk?

Posted on: November 11, 2011 10:43 am
By Matt Snyder

Let's not go crazy about the headline before realizing it's still a longshot that Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols signs elsewhere. Personally, I'd be shocked if he signed with anyone else. Most of the major markets are unable to come through with a huge bid. The Cubs might be able to, but we don't know if the new brain trust wants to take that path immediately (my guess is they don't). The Marlins are meeting with Pujols Friday, but could they afford him? It's doubtful they could come close to paying what St. Louis could. Can the allure of taking his talents to South Beach trump the loyalty, familiarity and dollars of St. Louis? Tough call, but only Pujols could answer that.

Still, let's just imagine a scenario where the Cardinals looked at the price tag internally and thought it best to outwardly appear as if they've done everything they could -- to appease the fans -- but still let Pujols walk via free agency. Obviously losing the best player in baseball would hurt the Cardinals, but I don't think it would be a death blow.

Let's check out what could be done with the money available, should Pujols sign elsewhere.

First of all, Jose Reyes could be signed to play shortstop. The leadoff spot was a bigger problem for the Cardinals than the middle of the order in 2011 (since-retired manager Tony La Russa had to use Ryan Theriot at leadoff in Game 7 of the World Series). Throw money at Reyes and the problem is solved. Plus, with Theriot, Nick Punto, Skip Schumaker and Daniel Descalso, there's plenty of infield depth to play with when Reyes serves a few stints on the DL. Jimmy Rollins could be a fall-back option. Next, Mark Buehrle could be signed. Remember, he grew up a Cardinals fan and has expressed interest in pitching for St. Louis in the past.

That means the Cardinals best lineup would be something like this:

1. Jose Reyes (or Rollins), SS
2. Allen Craig, RF
3. Matt Holliday, LF
4. Lance Berkman, 1B
5. David Freese, 3B
6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Jon Jay, CF
8. Punto/Theriot/Schumaker/Descalso, 2B

The starting rotation now includes a fully recovered Adam Wainwright, so it looks like this:

1. Adam Wainwright
2. Chris Carpenter
3. Mark Buehrle
4. Jaime Garcia
5. Kyle Lohse

Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn and top prospect Shelby Miller are available in case of injury. And the bullpen is largely the same as it was toward the end of last season, with Jason Motte now getting a full season as closer.

I tell you what, that's a pretty damn good team. Sure, there are questions, like how are Freese and Craig going to hit over the course of a 162-game season as regulars? In moving Berkman to first and starting Craig, the bench loses a valuable bat, too. Age has to be a concern with Berkman and Carpenter. And of course, how does everyone respond without La Russa? Overall, though, there isn't much to dislike about that hypothetical team.

Considering what Pujols' salary might do to the ballclub if he's making $25 million or more eight years from now -- he'll turn 32 in January -- maybe it wouldn't be so bad for St. Louis if he did leave. It's certainly worth considering (again, internally, as to not alienate Pujols himself or any of the fans). I'd at least talk about it, and I'm guessing the front office has done so as well.

To reiterate, I don't think Pujols is going anywhere, but we're smack-dab in the time of the year that hypotheticals are the most fun.

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Since: Nov 16, 2007
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:30 pm

What if ... the Cardinals let Pujols walk?

This article is nearsighted and needs to be farsighted. The Cardinals do not get better by letting Pujols walk, at least not next year. But when Pujos is 36 and not producing like he was when he was 30, the Cards are still accountable for a lot of money. Aske the Yankees if they regret signing AROD to that ridiculous contract. He is basically a $10 million dollar player getting 3 times that for the next 6 years. The Cards would be wise to let Pujols walk (from an economics stanpoint only).

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:17 pm

What if ... the Cardinals let Pujols walk?

thats cause the cardinals did not offer an extension, pujols didnt nix it....

Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:16 pm

What if ... the Cardinals let Pujols walk?

I am not sure I have ever read anything so stupid as suggesting that enhancement by subtraction was a good thing.

Then you obviously didn't read what I wrote. Did I not say it would hurt the Cardinals or that I thought he was staying enough times?

- Matt

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:12 pm

What if ... the Cardinals let Pujols walk?

I am not sure I have ever read anything so stupid as suggesting that enhancement by subtraction was a good thing.

Since: Apr 24, 2007
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:10 pm

What if ... the Cardinals let Pujols walk?

 not about $$$$

Bwaaaaahaaaaahaaaaa Boy are you a SAP.  If its not about the money, why didn't he already sign an extension?  I'm not saying he is going anywhere else b/c he is going to stay in St Louis, but not after sucking every dime he can out of them.

Thanks for the laugh though

Since: Oct 25, 2011
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:08 pm

What if ... the Cardinals let Pujols walk?

Good point... but what if he finds a place that he can reach out to more people?  I could see him walking away from $$$$ to put him in position to help others.  He'll get his money one way or another... You have to love a guy that puts others before himself. 

He had a statue dedicated here in STL (actually at my office complex).  As he talked it became more and more clear how focused he is on all the right things, his wife shares the same focus.  It's been an honor to watch him over the years, we're one lucky group of fans.

It's all about the love folks.

Since: Nov 11, 2011
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:08 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: November 11, 2011 11:56 am

What if ... the Cardinals let Pujols walk?

Get Real People....

the cardinals are no way a better team without Pujols...

The guy doesnt even drink, why would he want to live in South Beach?  cant think of a worse match than Pujols and South Beach..

those who know about pujols, know he is staying put in St louis...he is about values, family and God, not about $$$$

Since: Nov 3, 2006
Posted on: November 11, 2011 11:47 am

What if ... the Cardinals let Pujols walk?

Pujols is going to be 32 when the season starts.  He's arguably the best player in baseball.  St. Louis is an upper mid-range market team in MLB.  $25 million is about 25% of the Cardinals total salary budget, however if Pujols sticks to his demand of wanting to be paid $30 million, the percentage increases.  Those are the the facts. 

The pressure is on for the Cardinal management to sign this guy.  Winning the World Series only increased the pressure.  However, committing $250-300 million to a guy you who is probably entering the down side of his career is just plain nuts.  The first 2, 3 or even 4 years might be fine, but after that, then what?  Ask Houston how it feels about the Carlos Lee signing right about now.  I certainly realize Carlos Lee is not Albert Pujols, but I think you see my point.  Handcuffing an organization with a huge bloated salary for one player, is a suicide mission for a mid-market team in MLB.  Milwaukee knows that.  Houston found that out.  And St. Louis should realize it before it makes a big mistake.

In my opinion, the best thing to do is let Pujols walk and retool as stated above in the article.  However, that said, I think they'll fork over the money and Pujols will stay.

Since: May 8, 2007
Posted on: November 11, 2011 11:43 am

What if ... the Cardinals let Pujols walk?

I don't see the Cards making a move for a guy like Reyes. It makes a lot of sense when you look at it in the context of this article (which is a solid argument by the way). But when I look at it, I see a team that doesn't have much prime left. There are guy's like Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina that will be around for several years, but some of those difference makers, guys like Chris Carpenter and Lance Berkman, will be gone in a year or two. While signing Reyes makes them competitive for next season and maybe one more, they would absolutely have to follow up with subsequent moves to replace those "core" players. Something about building a team around Matt Holliday and Jose Reyes would scare the living crap out of me. 

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