I can't find any fault in the Cardinals ownership for their inability to sign Albert Pujols. Yes, they knew this day was coming several years ago. Yes, Albert is the best player in baseball. Yes, they overpaid for Matt Holliday and Kyle Lohse. All of that is true, and might make losing Pujols even more difficult to swallow. But Pujols is about to become the first athlete ever to turn down a contract that would have guaranteed him more than $200 million dollars. Are you kidding me?
The Cardinals say they offered him a substantial, long term contract. It's safe to assume that deal was in the neighborhood of 6 or 7 years, at 27 to 30 million dollars a season. That should have gotten the deal done. That's plenty. That's more than enough for a first baseman who's 31 years old and has already been paid $100 million dollars by the organization. If Albert has to have more than that, and doesn't care whether that limits the team's ability to put a quality team around him, then it's time for Albert to go elsewhere.
The Cardinals are not cheap. They have a history of giving very generous contracts to key players. If Albert leaves here as a free agent, and it's looking more likely everyday that he will leave, the Cardinals will find other quality players to sign. Adrian Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder and Mark Buerle are among the players scheduled for free agency after the 2011 season. How about Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins or Jose Bautista. They'd all fit pretty well into the Cardinals line-up of the future.
There will be life after Albert if he chooses to leave. I'm satisfied that the Cardinals did what they could to sign him, made him a generous offer, and are probably better off not being on the hook to pay a player close to $30 million a year in the back half of his career.