God’s will in Albert Pujols’ baseball contract

14 12 2011

I don’t have any problem with Albert Pujols leaving the Cardinals.  It’s his choice — he was a free agent, and he was allowed to choose where he wanted to play.  Obviously there are numerous variables to consider, such as who you want to play for, what each city is like, the financial offer, your potential teammates, etc.  Each player gets to determine what variables have priority (which seems to usually be the amount of money when talking about professional athletes).

But what bothers me about Pujols’ signing with the Angels is this story from his wife.  Read for yourself:

Albert Pujols’ wife Deidre, in an interview with a radio station with ties to the former St. Louis Cardinals slugger, said the couple was prepared to take less money to stay in St. Louis, but were greatly disappointed when the team initially offered him a five-year deal.

Thursday, Albert Pujols signed a 10-year, $254 million offer with the Los Angeles Angels that contained no deferred money, as well as a 10-year personal services contract following that deal. The Cardinals’ last offer to Pujols was for 10 years and $210 million, with $30 million deferred. …

Deidre Pujols, speaking with interviewer Sandi Brown, who is her friend, said the couple initially had no plans to ever leave St. Louis or the Cardinals, the only team the first baseman had ever played for.

“When it all came down, I was mad. I was mad at God because I felt like all the signs that had been played out through the baseball field, our foundation, our restaurant, the Down Syndrome Center, my relationships, my home, my family close,” Deidre Pujols told the station. “I mean, we had no reason, not one reason, to want to leave. People were deceived by the numbers.”

She indicated the key moment was the Cardinals’ initial offer of five years and $130 million.

“When you have somebody say ‘We want you to be a Cardinal for life’ and only offer you a five-year deal, it kind of confused us,” Deidre Pujols said. “Well, we got over that insult and felt like Albert had given so much of himself to baseball and into the community … we didn’t want to go through this again.”

Deidre Pujols told the station the negative reaction in St. Louis over her husband’s decision to sign with the Angels has been striking.

“Albert has never lied. People are like ‘Oh, we thought we knew who he was.’ Well, we thought we knew who they were,” she told the station.

“The city of St. Louis has absolutely been deceived and I have never seen hatred spread so fast and I understand why,” she added. “Let me say that Albert and I never, not one time, ever made plans to leave this city.”

Deidre Pujols also said she had no ill will toward the Cardinals or owner Bill DeWitt and that she understands the fans’ frustration with her husband’s decision.

I understand that Albert Pujols wanted a 10-year contract, which would take him to retirement age in baseball.  But to be insulted by a five-year offer of $130 million is crazy.  That’s $26 million a year!  And reportedly the Cardinals made several later offers, including a 10-year offer mentioned above, for “only” $210 million.

I’d heard a while back from “inside sources” that Pujols wanted to be the highest paid player in Major League Baseball.  Most teams are unable to offer such a contract, and it’s dubious whether doing so is a good strategy for building a balanced team (unless you’re the Yankees and can afford a $200+ million payroll).  The Rangers can tell you about how their record-breaking $250 million signing of Alex Rodriguez worked out — they finished last each year with the highest-paid player, then started contending after he left.

It just seems to be poor taste for Pujols’ wife to bad-mouth the Cardinals organization for “insulting” them with an offer of $26 million a year.  That would’ve made him the 3rd-highest paid player — which he still will be with his new contract.  Apparently the Cardinals didn’t want to pay that much when Albert will be over 40, and I don’t blame them for that.

She said it “confused” them to get a 5-year offer when they wanted to remain with the Cardinals for life, and that Albert virtually pleaded with the Cardinals to make it possible for him to commit the rest of his career and beyond to the Cardinals.  The thing is, the Cardinals claim to have made the offer, both for 9 and 10 years.  The issue really isn’t confusing at all, and these people know it.  It all comes down to the money.  The Cardinals didn’t want to pay that much, and Pujols wanted all he could get.

I’m surprised she basically admitted that they wanted to stay with the Cardinals for all reasons except that they wanted more money — well, and more long-term security, although even with “only” $130 million (the 5-year deal), there is a LOT of long-term security.  If you can’t live the rest of your life on that, then something is wrong…

After the signing, Albert Pujols said, “To tell you the truth, it wasn’t about the money. … It was about the commitment.”  The Angels didn’t defer any salary, and they offered a 10-year post-playing employment with the club.  So there was an extended commitment.  But the Cardinals have already paid Albert over $117 million for the first half of his career, which is considerable commitment to him so far, and there’s clearly a commitment to winning.  And Pujols shouldn’t have trouble finding stuff to do after he retires from baseball.  With all the money he will have, what can he not do?  Albert also had said the Cardinals management made it sound like business (which is it), while the Angels owner was warm and personable.  So he’s going to alienate most of his fans because he didn’t like his boss?  One thing Pujols may not realize is that St. Louis is probably the only team he could still be heavily supported even when he’s “washed-up” and overpaid in his last years.  We’ll see how it works out for him…

Lastly, I’m kinda bothered that she was mad at God, saying “all the signs” were there to stay except the money.  I’m not sure what they were praying for…  I mean, if you feel you should stay, but a 5-year deal at $26 million a year is a sign that you shouldn’t stay?  Or a 10-year $210 million deal?  I just don’t understand…

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