Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The case against Pujols taking his talents to South Beach

As a St. Louis resident and Cardinal fan, I obviously have a vested interest in the results of Albert Pujols free agent negotiations.   Still,I think my analysis here I relatively free of bias.

Reports are that the Marlins have offered Pujols a 10 year contract, compared to the Cardinals' 8 year offer.

Here's how I see Pujols's situation around 2020 if he takes the deal:

  • His skills have degraded to the point where he's now a league average first baseman.
  • He will probably have had several years of solid performance, but probably not at the same heights as his career so far.
  • His salary remains among the highest in the league.
  • He may or may not have led the Marlins to 1 or more world titles.  Considering the Fish won the 1997 and 2003 titles, this wouldn't quite make him a local hero.
  • The team and interest in the team will likely decline along with Pujols's skills.  The Marlins have been through a few boom and bust cycles.  Yes, they're getting a new stadium, but Pirates and Nationals fans can tell you that's not a guarantee of long term success in the stands or on the field.
  • Pujols's contract will be identified as a major obstacle to the Marlins competing, and he will face pressure to rework his deal or accept a trade.
If he were to stay with the Cardinals, here's how things look:

  • The skill will not have changed.
  • He will have led the Cardinals to at least 2 world champions, perhaps more.
  • He will be saluted for having chosen to stay here.
  • He will in general be a local institution.
In short, nobody in 2020 is going to be regretting the Albert Pujols experience, even if he's struggling through an injury-plagued year with the team doing poorly.  This is not true in Miami.

Now, there may be other considerations.  And I know that I myself recently left a position where I had accumulated some goodwill for a position with more upside.  

But it seems that by taking this deal, Pujols would be setting himself up for a bad situation several years hence.  I know it's hard to look that far ahead, but it's worth considering.
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