(KMOV.com) -- It appears the Cardinals low balled Albert Pujols with their contract offer, believed to be in the $19 to $23 million a year range. That would put him in the top 10 highest salaries in baseball, but not the top five.
It's no wonder Pujols turned it down. But who do you blame, Pujols or the Cardinals? I'd say neither.
Albert has every right to seek the biggest contract he can get. This is his time. He's the best in the game, and if he can make it through this season without a major injury he'll have teams offer top dollar on the open market for his services.
Some team, maybe the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs or Angels, might even give him the $30 million a year he wants for 10 seasons.
But I think we can be sure the Cardinals won't offer that kind of money. If they were going to they would have done it this week. Bill DeWitt, Jr. is a smart man who wouldn't part with a couple hundred million of his own money without having all the facts at his disposal.
One of the most important facts is that no player in the post-steroids era has continued to produce monster numbers after his 38th birthday.
Assuming Albert is perfect and not a machine, we can count on him slowing down within the next three or four years.
In fact, in 2010 he hit 19 points below his career average and struck out more times than he has since his rookie season 10 years ago.
There is some evidence that his decline may have already started. It has to be very hard for DeWitt to know that he may have to let the best player of his generation leave the Cardinals for free agency.
But he obviously believes he can build a better team by using the money to acquire several key players instead of one.