After the celebration, partying, and festivities, the Cardinals will take on another new challenge, one that Cards fans are kind of pushing to the back-burner. The challenge is to re-sign the future “Hall-of-famer” Albert Pujols. At the beginning of the season Pujols did not want his contract negotiation to distract the team, so he told the Cards organization to hold off on offers till the end of the season.
Now the end of the season is here, and its time to get down to business. My gut feeling is that Albert Pujols will be staying in St. Louis, but this does not mean that other teams won’t bother to explore the option of adding the slugger.
I believe the front runner for Pujols will be the Chicago Cubs. With the addition of Theo Epstein to the front office the Cubs have a huge advantage in negotiations with Pujols. The Cubs have a nice core with Starlin Castro at short and a few young pitchers looking to make their marks on the league. Outside of the Cubs, I believe the market is small.
Pujols is going to want a good amount of money with his new contract. Many big market teams won’t be in play for Pujols like the Phillies and Red Sox, but the Yankees will throw some cash at Albert, because they are the Yanks, and it’s what they do.
I believe Pujols will stay in St. Louis and continue his legacy there. He’s hitting in a line-up where he can let the bat fly. With newly hot David Freese and the ever-dangerous Matt Holliday, Pujols loves where he is at. The fans in St. Louis want him to stay, and Pujols also wants to stay. It is his city and he knows he can create an even bigger legacy there. In the end Albert will continue his reign as king of St. Louis and steer the Cardinals down the road to a 12th championship.
There is no question that this year’s free agent market in baseball is going to revolve around 2 key players; Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. If you are a team looking for a big time slugger and first basemen in the market which do you go after?
It might be a surprise to some, but if I were a franchise I would be more interested in Prince Fielder.
First the major market teams are out of the running for both, the Yankees and RedSox both have excellent first basemen with Mark Teixeira and Adrian Gonzalez. The Mets have no money and neither do the Dodgers, Philadelphia has Howard so basically the top five teams with money are out of it.
So who does that leave? The Cubs are going to be a big bidder with their new regime coming in the front office, there is some speculation on the Angels with all their injury problems at first they do have some money. And other than that there is no other clear cut team that one could say will defiantly make a push.
Rumors say the Nationals or Royals could surprise someone but it’s doubtful. So the market is small but it is focused in the national league central so the bidding between rivals will be intense.
Second Fielder is twenty seven and right in the prime of his career while Pujols is going to be thirty two in January. Both are going to want minimum 7-year deals, Pujols could request up to ten. If I am a team I would much rather give it to the Younger player I have them through their prime then at 35-years old on their down cline let them go, with Pujols one simply cannot do that you will have him until he is forty well after his production has peaked and he is simply not worth the money he is receiving.
Third the numbers are not that far apart. Since 2006 Fielders 1st full season Pujols only has 16 more homeruns and 60 more RBIs, while Pujols does have a higher average season to season one must remember that Fielder is just reaching his prime years, he will never bat as high as Pujols, but the numbers are still in the same ball park as far as the power department is concerned and that is really what we are looking for.
While Pujols may be the best hitter in baseball he might not be the best option to go with, yes he is good now, but in seven years, will he still be more productive than Fielder? I say no. Fielder is the better choice in my mind.