Jason Rosenberg of It’s About the Money (IIATMS) recently had his day as the SweetSpot Czar. For one of his posts he chose to look at those teams with the financial wherewithal to sign Albert Pujols should he ultimately become a free agent after 2011. We’ll actually know the answer to this question very soon. If by February 16, when Pujols intends to arrive at spring training, the Cardinals do not have the best player in baseball locked up long term, he will in fact become a free agent five days after the 2011 World Series.
The list he puts together makes a lot of sense and I have my favorite from it. It might not be who you think.
After the jump, a look at the possible future (Warning: it will please some and incense others)...
Monday, November 21, 2011
From the BBWAA...
2011 NL MVP
Cardinals’ Albert Pujols Wins Unanimously
St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols, who helped the Cardinals to a Wild Card berth in the National League, was the unanimous choice as the NL Most Valuable Player in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Of the 32 ballots submitted by two writers from each league city, Pujols was listed first on all 32, thus receiving the maximum of 448 points to win the award. It was the eighteenth time a player had won unanimously. The tabulation system rewards 14 points for first place, nine for second, eight for third and on down to one for 10th.
Pujols, 31, narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown by finishing with a .348 average (second), 48 home runs (first) and 148 runs batted in (first). He also led the league in on-base percentage (.492), slugging (.685) and OPS (1.155).
The majority of the second-place votes went to Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who was second on 16 ballots, third on six, fourth on four and eighth on one for a total of 223 points. A two-time batting champion, each coming in the past two past seasons, Gonzalez was the only player that stood between Pujols and a Triple Crown. He led the league in average (.352), finished sixth in runs batted in (118), tied for eighth in home runs (28), fourth in runs (100) and was second in extra-base hits (84).
Reds first baseman Joey Votto, another Triple Crown threat, finished third in the voting with 182 points. Votto won the NL MVP award in 2010. In 2011, he finished with a .322 average, was third in RBI (129) and fifth in home runs (34). He tied for the league in grand slams (2) and was third in runs (111).
Pujols and Votto were the only players on every ballot. In all, 24 players gained mention.
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (.310, 22 HR, 93 RBI), who was second in the NL in hitting with runners in scoring position (.385), was fourth with 153 points. Rounding out the top 10 were Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (.312, 28 HR, 95 RBI), Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (.295, 31 HR, 102 RBI), Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay (23-8, 2.85 ERA), Braves right fielder Jason Heyward (.275, 30 HR, 114 RBI), Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee (20-10, 2.99 ERA) and Mets third baseman David Wright (.299, 25 HR, 120 RBI).
It marked the eighteenth time a Cardinals player has been honored, most ever in the National League and second only to the New York Yankees’ 20 in the American League.
Previous MVPs for St. Louis include three-time winner Stan Musial (1943, ’46, ‘48) as well as Willie McGee (1985), Keith Hernandez (1979), Joe Torre (1971), Bob Gibson (1968), Orlando Cepeda (1967), Ken Boyer (1964), Marty Marion (1944), Mort Cooper (1942), Joe Medwick (1937), Dizzy Dean (1934) and the National League MVP inaugural winner Frank Frisch (1931).
This was the 11th consecutive top-10 finish in MVP voting for Pujols, who takes home his fourth MVP award after winning in 2005, ’08-09 as well as finishing second in 2002-03 and ‘06, third in ‘04, fourth in ‘01 (his rookie year) and ninth in ‘07.
Pujols’ now four victories surpass another Cardinals great, Stan Musial, the winner in 1943, ‘46 and ’48. The only other player in either league with more first-place finishes in MVP balloting was Barry Bonds, a seven-time winner in the NL (1990, ’92-93, 2001-04).
Pujol’s victory was the 16th for a first baseman in the NL, a list that includes Pujols’ four, one of Musial’s three as well as one each for Howard, McCormick, Dolph Camilli, Phil Cavarretta, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Steve Garvey, Willie Stargell, Keith Hernandez, Jeff Bagwell and Joey Votto.
The AL MVP Award has also been won by a first baseman 15 times. No other position has had as many MVP winners. Right fielders are next with 22, 11 in each league.
The Hardball Times Live by Rory Paap
Like many before him, Pujols put on his greatest show just before hitting free agency. In what may or may not be his final season with the Cardinals, Pujols narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown. He hit 49 home runs and drove in 148 runs, leading the Major Leagues in each category. If not for Carlos Gonzalez winning his second straight batting title, edging Pujols by just .04 points (.348 versus .352), Pujols would have become the first Triple Crown winner in either league since Carl Yastrzremski did it in 1967 for the Red Sox (44 home runs, 121 RBI, .326 average). The fact that Coors field cost him is nothing short of a tragedy. It would have been quite remarkable had he been able to do it, as the previous National League Triple Crown winner, Joe Medwick, was also a Cardinal and did it way back in 1937 with 31 home runs, 154 RBI and an impressive .374 average.
Pujols’ line of a .348 average, .470 on-base percentage (OBP) and .685 slugging percentage (SLG) for an 1.155 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) was majestic. That was good for a weighted on-base average of .492. With a resurgent season defensively, Pujols’ WAR was his highest ever at 10.6. Not easily done when you have not been below 7.3 WAR in nine consecutive seasons and your worst season was worth 5.7 wins.
To put his WAR into context: there have been 11 seasons by position players since 1990 of greater than 10 wins. Bonds owns six of them, his best work being 13 wins in 2002. In the non-Bonds category since 1990, Rickey Henderson produced 10.5 WAR in 1990, Cal Ripken produced 11.1 in 1991, Ken Griffey Jr. produced 10.2 in 1996, Sammy Sosa produced 10.4 in 2001 and Adrian Beltre produced a 10.1 WAR in his last season in Hollywood in 2004. Only Ripken (and Bonds) were better over that span, and this is certainly the best season in the post-steroids era.
Needless to say, it was absolutely no surprise to anyone when Pujols won the award.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Albert Pujols Signs With Cubs
Albert Pujols has decided to join the division rival Chicago Cubs, choosing the team over both the Red Sox and Yankees who were favorites to sign the player after St. Louis was unable to come to terms with the slugger before spring training. Speculation was that the Cardinals just could not figure out a way to fit his hefty contract demands into the budget after signing Matt Holliday prior to the 2010 season.
St. Louis did remain in the mix, but it was long thought he would choose Boston or New York given their financial resources. Pujols signed a ten-year, $300 million contract with the Cubs—the largest contract in history for any player. He won a World Series in 2006 with the Cardinals and has won four National League MVP awards in his career, including the 2011 award. The Cardinals’ final offer was believed to be 8 years, $240 million, the Yankees’ 7 years, $210 million and the Red Sox’s 9 years, $225 million. The Cubs swept in unexpectedly as the “Mystery Team,” much in the way the Phillies had with Cliff Lee after the 2010 season. The offer they gave him was one he simply could not refuse.
The news was absolutely devastating to fans in the St. Louis area, similar to that known by Cleveland fans when Lebron James left for the Miami Heat in 2010, of course this time without all of the hoopla. For Chicago fans, at least on the North Side, it’s a dream come true. The feeling for Cubs fans is that a World Series title is now inevitable. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
It’s finally over. After going more 100 seasons without a World Series championship, the Chicago Cubs have finally done it, in what will go down as one of the greatest World Series’ and greatest games in sports history period. After going down in the series three games to two following a crushing defeat in Yankee Stadium, the Cubs returned to Chicago to set out to do what so many Cubs teams had tried before only to fail: win a World Series.
After nine innings of play, the game remained tied 3-3 going into the night. Rafael Soriano, in his second inning of work, started off the inning by getting two harmless ground outs. He then gave up back-to-back singles to Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, followed by a walk to shortstop Starlin Castro. This set up the worst possible scenario for New York with Cubs first baseman Albert Pujols coming to the plate with no place to put him.
Pujols delivered for a fan base that had been waiting for over a century. He drove a 2-0 slider thrown by Soriano completely out of the stadium and onto Waveland Avenue. The crowd and the entire city erupted in elation.
The scrum for the ball on Waveland was reminiscent of home run number 73 hit by Barry Bonds in 2001, the current single-season home run record. Not only will Pujols’ ball be of historical importance, but it will also no doubt fetch a pretty penny. A meet and greet with him and a few signed bats likely won’t do the trick, but should he want to purchase the ball it would seem his $300 million dollar contract would provide him ample funds.
There’s no question Pujols’ home run will go down as the most dramatic home run in baseball history, if not the most dramatic moment in sports history. It was the second time a World Series had ended with a game seven walk-off home run, the first since "Maz" did it in 1960. It also came in extra innings and for a grand slam. And finally, that it ended a World Series title drought of more than 100 years for a city is truly incredible.
It was the longest championship drought in sports by a good measure. Back in 2004, the Red Sox won their first championship in 86 seasons. A gathering of roughly five million people followed their title, and not a person less is expected when the Cubs hold their parade. Boston managed to win another title in 2007; the Cubs fans should be so lucky.
Fortunately for the Cubs, Pujols got healthy down the stretch this season and propelled to Cubs to a Wild Card berth on the second to last day of the season. After beating the NL West champion Giants in five games in the NLDS, the Cubs followed that by beating the Cardinals in seven games to win the National League pennant. They were finally headed to the World Series.
It’s also very fortunate that the Cubs won now. Over the past two seasons, Pujols hasn’t been near the player he was in St. Louis, especially the one that won the MVP in 2011, his last season with the Cardinals. Pujols has remained a good player, but has also battled injuries. He played only 115 games in 2012 and 145 this season.
His contract of ten years and $300 million is already being called an albatross across baseball. He has eight years remaining and $250 million, along with a full no-trade clause. But a little logic might lead us to believe that should Pujols not be a good player over the next eight seasons and the Cubs fail to make the playoffs in any of them, he’ll still have been worth every penny (or 30 billion pennies to be exact).
Sorry Cardinals fans, I can’t help but hope something like this happens. No franchise in sports has earned it more than the Chicago Cubs, and I think it’s about time they had their day in the sun. If it went down this way … that’d be awesome. For Cubs fans, of course. Hey, after more than 100 years even they can dream.