Posted on: April 22, 2011 3:21 pm

Pujols' early season illustrates overreactions

By Matt Snyder

It's amazing how often we have to remind ourselves it's early in every single April. Someone is "back" or "distracted" or "a stud" or "washed up," based upon samples of 10 games. Sure, there are things that are real -- like Josh Beckett proving 2010 was an outlier and not a regression -- but we shouldn't be so ready to annoint or discount players doing things they haven't done before in one fell swoop.

A perfect example is Albert Pujols. With the contract situation hanging over his head, the masses were ready to scrutinize. When he went 0-5 with three strikeouts on opening day, I heard an analyst on a major network highlights show say he could be distracted by the contract talk. When he was hitting .150 with a .447 OPS and seven double plays to just one home run after 10 games, there were some more whispers about him being distracted or pressing.

Granted, these people were in the minority, but I'm trying to say nearly 100 percent of baseball analysts and fans should realize who we were watching and that he was going to start hitting. It wasn't a matter of if, it was when.

Since then? Pujols is 13-37 (.351) with five home runs, 10 RBI, 14 runs and a 1.198 OPS. He's only hit into one double play in that span.

Just something to keep in mind. There's no reason to start labeling slumps as anything more than slumps -- which happen to even the best players over the course of 162 games.

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Posted on: April 7, 2011 11:30 pm

Pujols to appear on '60 Minutes' Sunday

By Matt Snyder

Albert Pujols is going to be a huge story this entire baseball season. Well, really, he always is. He's been one of the best players in baseball for the past decade.

But this season there's even more attention surrounding the St. Louis star. He is set to be a free agent at the end of the season, and -- in what never seemed a possibility before -- it seems there's at least a chance he leaves the Cardinals.

This coming Sunday, however, you can see the off-field side of Pujols on CBS' "60 Minutes."

He works extensively with charities for his homeland, the Dominican Republic, and down syndrome. (CBSnews.com )

The episode will be aired April 10 at 7 p.m. ET/PT. To see a preview of the episode, click here .

Pujols, 31, and his Cardinals are off to a rough start in 2011. The team is already missing star players Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday to injury. They have stumbled out of the gate to a 2-4 record. Pujols is hitting just .182. Of course, it's only April 7.

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Posted on: February 22, 2011 1:16 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 3:47 pm

Don't call Albert Pujols greedy

"Just another greedy athlete."

I've seen this statement or some derivative thereof quite frequently this past week in a perusal of Internet comments sections, blogs and message boards, regarding the Albert Pujols contract situation. Check out a few of the comments in last Thursday's Morning Pepper .

This sentiment doesn't sit well with me. In fact, it compelled me to write this as my first entry for CBS.

First of all, Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball. Period. End of discussion. Anyone who follows the sport knows this as fact. Yet his salary for 2010 is exceeded in average contract value by 24 players (hat-tip to Joe Posnanski ).

Whenever the general public likes to denigrate athletes for daring to make millions of dollars, you’ll see people trying to make comparisons to "normal" jobs. Something like "I've worked my butt off for 25 years and will never make even close to that, and they’re playing a kid's game!" That kind of argument always saddens me. Millions of people every single season pay to watch baseball. Salary is a function of how much revenue one drives in a particular job, not a reward for doing noble work. No one pays to watch a teacher or fireman or policeman, unfortunately. Those are most certainly noble lines of work -- much more so than anything in the entertainment field -- but in a capitalist society, we should all know the score.

In this case, let's be real. The score is that Albert Pujols makes less money than 24 other players and he's the obvious best player in baseball. If you want to make a real-world comparison, ask yourself how you would react if you were widely considered the best person at your job in a metropolitan area that contains roughly 750 employees in the exact same job description, yet were compensated less than 24 others; in fact, considerably less than a handful. You've spent your entire career with this company, love the setting, love your co-workers and love the company, but it just can’t afford to pay you the salary you clearly deserve.

Then imagine another company coming along and offering to make you the highest paid person in this profession in the city. This new company just blew you away with an offer.

Are you seriously going to sit there and tell me you'd turn it down and continue to be grossly underpaid?

In Pujols' case, you get the public malign because people seem to hate the rich nowadays, instead of aspiring to join the ranks. He makes enough money, you’ll hear. But I’m guessing if you asked Phat Albert and he was 100 percent honest, he'd say it's not about the money at all. It's about the principle. Fangraphs.com has estimated that Pujols gave the Cardinals about $285.5 million worth of baseball production in his first 10 seasons, but he has only been paid $85.5 million. Talk about a shortfall. Even if the figure isn’t completely accurate, any reasonable baseball fan would concede he’s been drastically underpaid for a decade. But since I just paired "only" with "$85.5 million," people are shaking their heads. It’s just not fair, they'll cry.

Damn right it's not. It's not fair to Pujols. Look at anyone else in the entertainment field -- which is a perfect segue to my second issue here.

All the venom being tossed in his direction makes it seem the only entertainers deemed greedy by the masses are athletes. Do you know how much money Ryan Seacrest makes? Martin Scorcese? Will Smith? Oprah? We’ve got a 16-year-old kid telling us to "Never Say Never" (so, is "The American Dream: How Paris Hilton's Hard Work Paid Off" next on the docket?), and the problem is Albert Pujols simply wanting to receive the remuneration he's worth in his field? Compared to other player salaries in baseball, $30 million a season would be market value for Pujols.

For the record, I don’t have a problem with any of the above people making obscene amounts of money, but I don’t have a problem with Pujols' contract demands. People with incredible talents in the entertainment field are compensated as such. It's reasonable for them to make what they do because talent is rewarded in our society. It's very reasonable. And it's equally reasonable for Pujols to want to be paid like the best player in the game, because he is, you know, the best player in the game . Plus, athletes likely have a shorter shelf life than actors or musicians. Pujols won’t be playing baseball anymore by the time he’s 45. I’m pretty sure Will Smith will be just fine well into his 60s, and probably even 70s, on the big screen.

This is not greed.

And if you're completely honest with yourself, you'll agree.

-- Matt Snyder

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Posted on: February 21, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 7:28 pm

White Sox won't pay Pujols

Kenny WilliamsIf Albert Pujols does end up in Chicago, it will be on the Northside, not the Southside, as White Sox general manager Kenny Williams tells CSNChicago.com's Chuck Garfien his team is unwilling to spend the type of money on one player Pujols will demand.

The word is Pujols is looking for $30 million a year -- too rich for Kenny's blood.

"If [White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf] gave me $30 million right now, I'm not going to spend it on one guy. Sorry White Sox fans," Williams said. "But I tell you what, I'm going to take that $30 million and I'm going to distribute it around. My team is going to be better as a whole than it is with one player who might get hurt. Then you're done. Sorry, that's just me. And that's no disrespect to a future Hall of Famer, first ballot, one of the greatest players in history."

Of course, the White Sox added nearly $25 million to their payroll this offseason, with escalations in existing contracts plus adding Adam Dunn to a four-year, $56-million deal, reliever Jesse Crain (three years, $13 million) and re-signing Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski.

Williams also talks about labor and the upcoming CBA, saying he wouldn't mind a work stoppage for the "health of the game," -- pretty much taking the opposite stance of Hank Steinbrenner.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: February 19, 2011 12:13 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2011 12:22 pm

Teixeira: 'I'm going to be buried in pinstripes'

Mark Teixeira Don't expect Mark Teixeira to move aside to make room for Albert Pujols.

"I'm not going anywhere," Teixeira told Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger . "I've got that no trade for a reason. I'm going to be buried in pinstripes."

Teixeira is signed through 2016.

Carig notes a source "with knowledge of the situation" said the Yankees have "no intentions" of going after Pujols.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: February 19, 2011 11:58 am
Edited on: February 19, 2011 12:24 pm

Ricketts leaves Pujols option open

Tom Ricketts Cubs owner Tom Ricketts left the door open on a potential play for Albert Pujols next season.

Ricketts talked to the media Saturday morning in Mesa, Ariz., and was asked about the possibility of the Cubs adding a long-term "megadeal" in the future -- and the owner didn't shoot it down. According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, Ricketts said the team would have more "financial flexibility" after this season and he'd be "open-minded" about adding a big-ticket item (i.e. Pujols).

When asked specifically about Pujols, Rickets said, " I don't have any insights or thoughts on any of that situation. All I know is what I read in the paper. I guess it'll just have to sit until the end of the season."

Also speaking "generally" Rickets said "any owner would say the length of the deal is often a bigger problem than the amount of dollars, so you're going to have to be very careful if you're going to sign one of those longer deals. If you're going to take on a guy for seven, eight, nine years, you better make sure that's the guy you want."

Even if the Cubs don't have interest in Pujols -- and with Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Pena, Carlos Silva and Aramis Ramirez possibly off the books for next season, they will have some payroll opening up -- it behooves Rickets and the Cubs to at least pretend they do. First off, it's a great dig at their biggest rival, the Cardinals. More importantly, right now the Cardinals are bidding against only themselves and hypothetical offers, no real concrete offers. The Cubs can feign interest and even if they don't get Pujols, they can drive up the price the Cardinals could ultimately wind up paying.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: February 17, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: February 17, 2011 2:06 pm

Morning Pepper: Al-booo-ert?

Albert Pujols

There's a lot left to be said about the Albert Pujols negotiations, but the question I've had is what exactly is the fan reaction going to be to him this season? Could the great Pujols actually be booed at home?

Now, if it were any other city other than St. Louis, I don't think I'd wonder this -- I'd expect this. However, St. Louis is America's great baseball city. Not only does the town pride itself on its baseball knowledge, but also the way it treats the Cardinals as a whole and as individuals. Go to Busch Stadium and you'll observe a baseball crowd that loves baseball. And Albert was their king.

Now, though, could it get nasty that he's had a chance to prove his undying love and devotion and decided instead to possibly shop around?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked fans if Pujols would still be a Cardinal in 2012 , AS of 8:30 a.m., 35 percent said he would be, 32 percent said no, and 33 percent answered "I know [sic] longer care]." To no longer care about Albert Pujols in Cardinal red in St. Louis is akin to being an atheist at Vatican City.

Here are some of the comments from the newspaper's website:
Pujols comments

There are also less dignified responses (from a comment section of a website? I know, shocking) calling Pujols out because of his background and also his outspoken Christianity, as well as those making the apple-oranges comments about our current economic state and a baseball player's salary (if you haven't noticed, they're not connected.) In fairness, there were also messages in support of Pujols and the Cardinals and some reasoned debate, but in a crowd of 43,975, that's not always who is heard.

So, when opening day rolls around in St. Louis on March 31 against the Padres and the third Cardinal batter comes to the plate, what will the reaction be? Could a St. Louis icon be booed in St. Louis? We'll see (or hear).

MUST READ: Former Phillies manager Dallas Green talked to reporters yesterday about the loss of his granddaughter, Christina Taylor Green. Here's the report from the Seattle Times ' Larry Stone .

If this didn't get you, you have no heart -- "John called her princess, and I did, too. She was our angel."

NOW ABOUT THOSE OTHER FOUR SPOTS: Wednesday, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly named Clayton Kershaw his opening-day starter. Vicente Padilla started Los Angels' opener last season. Kershaw will face Tim Lincecum in the opener -- not a bad matchup. (Los Angeles Times )

YEAH, HOW COULD THAT GO WRONG?: Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd is standing by his decision to work with BALCO found Victor Conte.

"Instead of me being dumb and just keep trying different things, I went to reach out to somebody so I didn't test positive," Byrd told reporters, including the Chicago Sun-Times .

Yeah. Good idea.

NO, A REALLY GOOD IDEA: If you have an iPad, check out this awesome-looking iPad app called Pennant . Seriously, while watching the video, I grabbed my iPad and plunked down my $4.99. If you're the type who can get lost in retrosheet.org, this looks great.

TRIBUTE TO TANNER: The Pirates will find ways to honor former manager Chuck Tanner, but they haven't exactly figured it out yet, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review . The team will honor him on opening day and the team is likely to wear a patch. The Reds and Tigers will wear a patch honoring former manager Sparky Anderson this season.

UNCLE ORLANDO: Orlando Cabrera, one of the most entertaining interviews in baseball, officially joined the Indians on Wednesday. The long-time shortstop looks to be the everyday second baseman, joining with "nephew" Asdrubal Cabrera in Cleveland. (MLB.com )

THE MORE YOU KNOW: Baseball America 's always-entertaining minor league transactions .

PLEASE NO: One of my favorite people I've ever met in baseball was the late Ernie Harwell. I was lucky enough to interview him once and will always treasure that.

However, I don't think it's an easy way to make a buck -- Mitch Albom, sportswriter-turned-sap producer, is going forward with a play based on Harwell's life . I'll keep my own memories of Harwell, thanks.

SORIANO'S TRAINING: The Onion on Alfonso Soriano:

Onion SportsDome

EVEN IF ALBERT LEAVES: Buck up St. Louis, you'll always have beer .

And if that doesn't help, how about Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman ? I'd lie just to get lassoed for the truth.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: February 16, 2011 11:34 pm

Pujols speaks out on contract deadline passing

PujolsAlbert Pujols spoke out on the failed negotiations with the Cardinals in coming to terms on a contract extension.

After the noon deadline passed with a whimper and a rumor that an eight-year deal had been offered for roughly $200 million, the Cardinals said they had made the best offer possible.

Unsurprisingly, that offer wasn't even close to getting it done, and Pujols told USA Today that he "strongly feel" that putting negotiations on hold was the right course of action. Pujols has stated he has no interest in dealing with contract negotiations hanging over his head both in spring training and the regular season.

Pujols did say he did not want to be a distraction to his teammates as well and believes his relationship with GM John Mozeliak and owner Bill DeWitt remains strong.

"It was for that reason," Pujols said, "that we came up with a deadline. I hope that the media are respectful toward my family, my teammates, coaches and the Cardinals organization in honoring this request. I have the utmost respect for Mr. DeWitt, Mo and the rest of the Cardinals organization, and the path that these negotiations have taken, will not impact our relationship moving forward in any way."

Don't count St. Louis out just yet -- they remain the prohibitive favorites to bring Prince Albert back to the organization. But Albertageddon just got racheted up another notch.

Here is the fullstatement:


First of all, I'd like to congratulate "The Man" Stan Musial, on receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is a person that I have come to know and deeply admire and respect.

After spending the last few weeks working toward an extension, we've suspended our conversations with the Cardinals, due to this morning's self-imposed deadline. Once the 2011 season is over, we hope to revisit those talks. My agent, Dan Lozano and I have been on the same page throughout this entire process, and we strongly feel this is the best course of action. I have made it very clear that I do not want any of this to be a distraction during the season, and it was for that reason, that we came up with a deadline. I hope that the media are respectful toward my family, my teammates, coaches and the Cardinals Organization in honoring this request. I have the utmost respect for Mr. DeWitt, Mo and the rest of the Cardinals Organization, and the path that these negotiations have taken, will not impact our relationship moving forward in any way.

I also would like to take this opportunity to reassure the Cardinal Nation, that my effort both on and off the field will never change. I am devoted to giving 100 percent on the field, every single day, just as I have done the last 10 years. We're all working together toward a common goal and that is to win a World Championship for the City of St. Louis. The last thing anyone in this clubhouse needs to worry about, is what's going to happen to me after the season. Let's focus on winning in 2011 and prepare each day to accomplish our goals as a team. I'm feeling strong, healthy and excited to be at Spring Training in what I hope to be the start of a World Championship season. I can't wait to get started and God bless.

-- Evan Brunell

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