Monday, February 14, 2011

What if Albert Pujols ends up having a bad season?

Dammit Albert! Just sign a stupid contract with the Cardinals and get all this crap out of the minds of Cubs fans!

Supposedly the Cardinals finally made a formal offer to Albert Pujols and he promptly rejected it. Rumor is that Pujols is on the verge of closing negotiations until the end of the season.

So I was on my way to work today and a thought entered my head…

What if Albert Pujols doesn’t sign a contract extension with the Cardinals, and goes off and has the worst season of his career?

Pujols has been the model of consistency over his 10 year career.

It isn’t at all inconceivable that it could happen. Pujols turned 31 last month…and while he is likely to be very productive for at last another 4 years, this tends to be near the peak of a player’s career.

He has also been exceptionally healthy through his career to this point having played at least 143 games every year of his career to this point and averaging 156 games a season. He could be due for some nagging issue to cause him to miss some significant time.

Having said that, one could point out that Pujols has a lot of miles on the tires since he started his career at the age of 21. Last year he had his lowest WAR of any season since 2002. It’s very possible that he is already on a downward trend.

At the same time, this being a contract year, it could give him more motivation than ever to try to prove to the Cardinals and the rest of baseball that he is indeed worth $30 million (or more) a season.

But if he does have a bad season, Pujols could really get screwed out of some huge dollars, and some serious contractual security once the season is over.

Supposedly the Cardinals don’t want to pay Pujols for 10 years. I don’t blame them. In order for Pujols to get that sort of length on a deal, he needs to perform well this year, otherwise the Cardinals, the Cubs, whoever, will never go for a contract that will go until 2021 when Pujols is age 41.

I originally said that I completely believed the Cardinals and Pujols would work something out before spring training. I no longer believe that. It is quite apparent that the Cardinals reasons for not wanting to give Pujols a 10 year contract are quite the same as the reasons I don’t want the Cubs to sign him…it will cripple the payroll for 10 years…and that’s too long.

If signing Pujols to a 10 year/$300 million contract guarantees a World Series championship by 2021…ok…I guess we can do that. But with the Cubs having so many other holes right now (without much in their farm system to fill those holes), it still isn’t the right move. The same might be said about the Cardinals who have holes being filled right now by Ryan Theriot and the ancient Lance Berkman.

But back to the point, I thought it would be to the Cardinals advantage to try to get this deal done now. That might no longer be the case. In the end, Pujols might be the one who needs to try to get this deal worked out before the season starts.

Come October, we’ll see which is true.