ESPN Starts Pujols Contract Hype

Jayson Stark decided that the whole Werth/Crawford/Lee excitement wasn’t enough for the Hot Stove, kicked the rock the Cardinals front office hides under and flashed a bazillion watt spotlight right on them.

“Just 10 weeks. That’s how long the Cardinals have to make all of this a moot point. If we’re still asking, 10 weeks from now, what Albert Pujols is worth, it means the incomprehensible could turn to fact in the snap of a few fingers:

Sir Albert really could spend the rest of his Hall of Fame career with no giant arch within a thousand miles.”

PANIC!

ZOMG! PANIC HARD!!

The Cardinals seem to be using the ‘please, God, please can that whole double dip recession deal start in the 2011 season?’ approach to negotiating. Because after a Jason Werth or a Carl Crawford gets a 150 million dollar deal… well, the Cardinals? The Cardinals are in a bit of trouble.

Here’s how this plays out:

1) Albert doesn’t sign this off-season. He starts spring training by closing down these tepid, at best, talks he’s been having with the Cards brass this off-season.

2) The Cardinals don’t trade Albert. The value of the 2 premium picks they’ll get back from a team if he does leave will be of more value than what they can get from renting him to a team for 3 months in 2011. Further Albert is a 10/5 guy, meaning he has the right to veto a trade he doesn’t like. Even further, the Cardinals might as well burn John Goodman at the stake if they trade Albert Pujols in the prime of his career. And we all know how much St. Louis LOVES John Goodman.

3) Albert becomes a free agent in November of 2011.

4) The Cardinals make a strong first offer.  Think 7 years/ 190-210 million dollars. They tell every media outlet that this is offer and play the dangerous game of putting this decision on Albert. They position themselves as the team that is doing EVERYTHING to keep him a Cardinal for life and extending him a HUGE deal and if ALBERT wants to get 300 million over 10 years from someone else… then that’s on him. The Cardinals wouldn’t be the bad guys. Noooooo, Albert is the one that has to scorn the fans of STL.

5) TBD. Part of me thinks Albert wants to be a Cardinal for life and understands his importance to the city and team. Another part of me says that Albert can’t leave 100 million on the table if the Angels or Cubs want to make him the centerpiece of their franchise for the next 8-10 years.

Whatever happens, once Lee is signed, the Pujols free agent flap will be officially started by ESPN and it’s hype machine.

I don’t think the Cardinals are ready for this. I really don’t. The Cowboys, Yankees, Red Sox… these people deal with this intense focus all the time. But the Cardinals AWW SHUCKS, come on guys, type of media personality that plays well in the Midwest it going to be tested and probably exploited by Albert Pujols and his agent team.

One thing is certain… this is going to be interesting.

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