St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols connects for an RBI single in the third inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Monday, Sept. 27, 2010, in St. Louis.(AP Photo/Tom Gannam) By Tom Gannam
The more people I talked with, the more comments I hear on talk radio, and the more messages I read on the internet, makes me believe that Albert Pujols is losing the battle of public opinion. I don't get the sense there are many people still clinging to the "sign him at all costs" mantra that we heard earlier.
Everybody wants the Cardinals to re-sign Pujols, but it certainly seems that most people realize that Pujols and his agents are demanding more money and a longer contract than the Cardinals can reasonably afford. 10 years for $300 million is a ridiculous demand. The Cardinals are right in not wanting to go there. The odds are very much against Pujols continuing to put up monster numbers after he reaches age 35, which will be four seasons from now. A 10 year contract would likely mean the Cardinals would be paying Pujols an outrageous yearly salary, while watching his production taper off significantly.
Of course nobody knows for sure that his production will taper off, but history tells us that even the greatest players in major league history have seen their numbers decrease dramatically after age 35. Barry Bonds may be the exception to the rule, but he was also juiced up on steroids in his late 30's and early 40's.
I think most Cardinals fans, myself included, are coming to the conclusion that we hope the team is somehow able to re-sign Pujols. It'd be great to have him play his entire career here. But at what cost? 10 years and $300 million is way too much. It's hard to imagine how the organization could continue to put a competitive team around Pujols if is salary eats up almost one-third of the entire payroll. I think the Cardinals should stop negotiating with him now, see how plays this season, and then re-evaluate what to do at the end of the year. As a free agent, the Cardinals will still be able to offer Pujols a contract, and they'll have a better idea of his true market value when other teams are also in on the bidding.