Blog Entry

How Albert Pujols can help the 2012 Cardinals

Posted on: February 20, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 3:13 pm
 
JUPITER, Fla. -- In the oddest of ways, perhaps Albert Pujols is helping the Cardinals this spring.

His presence is felt . . . because of his absence.

Let me explain.

Because Pujols is gone -- and because Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan are also gone -- the Cardinals have a strong sense that they're now being doubted. And a strong sense that they're the rare defending champions who come to camp with something to prove.

Instead of listening to everyone tell them how good they are, the Cardinals have listened to everyone ask about what they've lost.

If they win this year, it won't be because they had Albert or Tony.

"They want to make their own statement," general manager John Mozeliak said Monday.

"I see a lot of chips on shoulders that I didn't think I'd see," new manager Mike Matheny said. "And that's a beautiful thing."

Matheny said later that he didn't equate those chips simply to Pujols' departure, but it's easy to see that it plays into it.

Just in the first two days of camp, it seems that half the Cardinals players have felt compelled to say, "We have a good team," something that is normally just accepted with a defending champion.

"Not that they take offense, but they think they're not chopped liver," Matheny said.

The Cardinals certainly appreciate what Pujols meant to them, and they say they wish him well with the Angels. A few said they have kept in touch with Pujols.

"We're still good friends," pitcher Kyle McClellan said. "We've exchanged texts. I hope he goes there and has as good a next 10 years as he had here."

If Cardinals fans have come to resent Pujols for his decision to leave, that sentiment seems absent (or at least unspoken) within the Cardinal clubhouse.

"We know what he meant to this team, this organization," Skip Schumaker said. "But we have to move on. I'll keep up with him, because he's a friend. But we've still got a pretty darned good chance to win."

They do have a good chance to win. It feels funny that we even need to say that about a team that won the World Series, then lost one big star but added in Carlos Beltran and has added back Adam Wainwright, who missed 2011 after Tommy John surgery.

But that's what Pujols has given the 2012 Cardinals. He's given them a defense against complacency.

"There is none," Mozeliak said.

No complacency here. And the Cardinals can thank Albert (and Tony) for that.



Comments

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: February 21, 2012 8:38 am
 

How Albert Pujols can help the 2012 Cardinals

People will still gear up and play them like they're the champs. This isn't basketball where if you lose LeBron James (Cleveland) and you instantly become a bottom dweller. Baseball is a team sport. This is a team that still has 2 of the top pitchers in the NL in Carpenter and Wainwright, and Garcia is not too far behind them.

The Cardinals won't be underestimated. If they fall to the bottom it won't be because they lost Pujols. If they compete it won't be because of Pujols. The Cardinals are a good team top to bottom. Teams can have one sorry ass player in the lineup and still win it all in baseball.



Since: Dec 4, 2010
Posted on: February 21, 2012 6:11 am
 

How Albert Pujols can help the 2012 Cardinals

THE KING IN OUR HALO RED...LETS GET THIS STARTED BABY!!! GO HALOS!!!



Since: Mar 22, 2008
Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:51 pm
 

How Albert Pujols can help the 2012 Cardinals

yeah, what a great guy Pujols is.   i mean, of course this was his plan all along.  of course he was concerned that his team was getting to complacent after winning the world series, so he did them the biggest favor he could:  he took a huge payday and left.   it's SO obvious the Cardinals are now better without him because people will now doubt them more....   this story is retarded.



Since: Oct 25, 2011
Posted on: February 20, 2012 9:08 pm
 

How Albert Pujols can help the 2012 Cardinals

Very well said.



Since: Nov 2, 2009
Posted on: February 20, 2012 8:49 pm
 

How Albert Pujols can help the 2012 Cardinals

Just watched 'Moneyball'. Makes me sad for Albert and baseball, and Molina as he deals with his contract. But, that is the reality of baseball and life. Obviously, the players want more money as they get older; they feel they are more and more valuable, However, after the reach their peak, their skills decline and they are more prone it to injury. At that point, from the business side, they are not worth as much each season. 

Mozeliak made the right decision to let Albert go. From what I have read, in 'wins above replacement', the return of Wainright, based on his 2009/10 seasons exceeds what the Cards lose from Albert, based on a declining last season. The Cards will miss him the next 2-3 years, but not worth having him around for 9-10 years at that price. Especially since he can't DH in the NL.

If the Cards really did offer 9 years, $220, and he turned that down, the I bet he ends up regretting his decision. I like/respect Albert and hope that he finds what he is looking for. I'll be the first to admit when I am wrong, i.e., if the Angels win a few Championships, but I fear that he won't have the same success in LA as he had in StL. He had the chance to win now in StL and could have been immortalized.



Since: Oct 25, 2011
Posted on: February 20, 2012 7:47 pm
 

How Albert Pujols can help the 2012 Cardinals

At the time he signed that was GOOD money for him.  While he did play at higher level I don't think he played to the level of the contract offered by the Angels.  Do not mistake this for saying I would not want him back, GOD do I ever.  But, there is no way he's going to be worth those dollars over 10 years. 

Just going back to last year, Albert was not the same for over the first half of the season.  You're going to see more and more of that, IMHO.  :)



Since: Oct 9, 2007
Posted on: February 20, 2012 7:20 pm
 

How Albert Pujols can help the 2012 Cardinals

Pujlos did ALLOT for the Cardinals and they won 2 World Series with him on the team.  Plus the Cardinals were able to pay him way under the salary he deserved for years!!!  I'm happy for the time StL had him and it would be awesome if he could finish his career in St. Louis and go into the HOF as a Cardinal.



Since: Oct 25, 2011
Posted on: February 20, 2012 4:47 pm
 

How Albert Pujols can help the 2012 Cardinals

I'll be all over singing his praises.... once he retires.  As it stands now he plays for another club, so screw him... lol


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com