Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pujols and the WBC

Today's Post Dispatch headline article discusses Albert Pujols. Because I'm constantly accused of having an opinion on everything, here are some thoughts:

- Albert's ready to go this season, and claims he's physically healthy. GOOD.

- Albert expects to get paid when he's a free agent next, is open to continuing to play in St Louis, but doesn't rule anything out. I think AP sees the fiscal reality of the times. The Cardinals, although making moves to improve the team, have made an organization decision not to spend ridiculous amounts of money on players. I don't have a problem with this strategy at all. I do think, however, for those few players that are the very very best at what they do (and AP certainly qualifies as one of those guys), the team should open the coffers to pay that guy fair market value. Especially when he's the face of the franchise, as AP is right now.

Who knows what AP will be worth on the open market in 2012. Since Texieria got $180M for 8 years this offseason ($22.5M per season), you can expect AP to be worth between 25 and 30 million a season, even though he'll be 32 at the end of the 2012 season. Think of him as a younger Manny Ramirez as far as free agent dollars goes. I don't know if the Cardinals will be willing to pay him that much for 5 more years, but they need to consider it, and I'm sure Mo is running the numbers even now.

I've watch the Padre debacle (RE: Peavy, Hoffman) with detatched bemusement. I'd really like to avoid that type of soap-opera scenario (jettisioning a productive member of the team, a franchise face-type guy, due to monetary reasons) with Pujols.

As far as his 'they could trade me' comments, well, noted. That's life.

- Albert wants to play in the World Baseball Classic. Cardinals don't want him to play without insurance provided by MLB. This one is interesting.

The Rincon saga was mentioned in the article. I think the Cardinals should DEMAND MLB indemnify them against injury to AP if he plays in the WBC and gets hurt. In a lot of ways, AP is our most important player; losing him to an injury suffered in this event would be devastating, both to the team and to the ownership. That only makes sense.

What I found most interesting about this discussion was AP's desire to play for the Dominican Republic. Especially in light of his becoming a US Citizen in 2007. The USA certainly isn't hurting for quality first baseman (Derrek Lee and the aforementioned Texieria among them, although I don't know if they're playing for Team USA this year), but why wouldn't AP play for this country? After all, he's lived most of his life here.

This isn't meant to imply he should be ashamed of being from the Dominican, or downplay his heritage. Far from it. And I don't know if he holds dual citizenship in the US and the DR. But does anyone else find it curious that he would rather play for that team than for ours? The DR has some guys who can play, but so does the USA. Come on AP, represent the red white and blue.

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