Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Day In Pictures

Dawson is devastated.

Dwight is delirious.

Doogie is distraught.

Dennis is distressed.

Dana is disheartened.

And McCain is mad.


They're all Cardinal fans, of course. The Cards and Pujols failed to reach agreement before Camp Pujols' deadline. This all but ensures Albert Pujols will be wearing the uniform of another team in 2012. Yes, the Cards will have the opportunity to compete with other teams when Pujols becomes a free agent after the 2011 season. But the failure to reach an agreement now indicates that the Cards are not willing to spend the money (estimated to be in the neighborhood of 10 years / $300 million) that at least one team will pitch him in November. It's hard to blame the Cards for not wanting to spend that kind of dough, but I'd always had a boyish dream that Pujols would retire as one of the greatest to ever play the game, and as a career Cardinal.

Oh well.

I suppose not everyone feels this is bad news.


Ryan said...

...and Leon's getting laaarrrrrrrger.

I will wait to see as details emerge about the distance between the two sides, because as of now, I"m just dumbfounded.

I can't believe that both sides would let the deal fall through if they were just a million or two off AAV. That leads me to believe this was a giant circus and that the brass never had any intention of signing him. But again, I'll reserve my judgment.

Roller said...

"Sources close to the talks" say the two sides were very far apart. Cards offering something like 9-10 years at $20 MM / year.

People worry that the Cards can't/shouldn't pay a 41-42 year old $30 million (let's forget for a second that anyone should get this kind of money for playing a game - it's relative to other players). But I wonder, where will that salary rank in 10 years? Will it still be the highest? In the top 10? Top 20?

It's perfectly normal to worry about overpaying an aging slugger. The Red Sox got trapped with Big Papi. The Astros with Bagwell. The Indians with Hafner. Even A-ROD, who has one of the best physiques in the game, has fallen off a little bit in his age 33 and 34 seasons.

Outside of an amazing 1962, the last 5 years of Musial's career were well below his standards (he even took a self-imposed paycut in 1960 after very sub-par 1959).

Outside of a sub-par 1959 (age 40), Teddy Ballgame was still mashing even at 41 (posting an OPS of 1.096!!).

Mays had a noticeable decline, as did Aaron. The Babe raked until his final year.

Roller said...

Interestingly, Bill Dewitt Sr. (in)famously traded Frank Robinson from Cincinnati to Baltimore, saying Robinson was "an old 30". Robinson won the Triple Crown in his first year in Baltimore. Is Dewitt Jr. at all afraid of repeating history?

Roller said...

Tonight my kids and I were watching Women's Gymnastics on TV (those women are incredible). My son asked me if the Cards signed Pujols. I told him 'no', and that it most likely means that Pujols won't be a Cardinal after this year. He suggested that I give the Cardinals $1,000 so that they could sign Pujols. I told him that I need that money to pay for my kids to go to school, to which my daughter responded "Why don't you just tear it in half so you both can have it?"

Kids are the best.

Ryan said...

Great comments Rolls. Especially what your daughter said, hilarious. She should have been at the negotiating table. Why don't you all just have some cookies and cool off for a minute?

You bring up some of the central issues that I've always wondered about this deal:

Why is a 10 year deal on the table? If Pujols wants to be the highest paid player, is that in AAV or total contract?
Can't longer term deals be structured to be more incentive based towards the end to defray the cost of decline?
I don't believe Pujols is actually 31, which makes longer term deals even harder to stomach.
I do believe Pujols has the kind of physique that will last though. He's not overly built or fat, no evidence of juice and hasn't racked up a bunch of injuries.

The Yankees can't be allowed to "set the bar" in terms of contract, and the union, agents, ownership and players need to understand that. That said, $20 mill is almost insulting with what Howard, Gonzalez and Werth have gotten. Heck, Holliday is making $17 mill/year in Cardinal money.

Coovo said...

Oh, Leon.

I am not as pessimistic (I guess that would make me optimistic) as you Roller. I think both sides played this early negotiating period very cautiously. The Cardinals made their minimum offer. Why make a higher offer when they don't have to. If they take Pujols at his word, they can always counter any offer he gets from another team during free agency.

And Pujols has no real incentive to take the offer (unless he was realy worried about his elbow being career threatening). If he's serious about being a Card for life, then he can always see what the best offer Cardinal offer will be once other teams have their say. And maybe then he would have the chance to take his hometown discount if he wants.

I don't think the union is pressuring Pujols as in he's getting calls from leaders. But I do think that players take into consideration the union and their fellow players when making a deal.

The long term effect of a 10 year deal is obvious but the short term effect is tangible as well. This is from a Jayson stark (I'll link the column at the bottom) column on January 25:

"First off, the Cardinals will be feeling it for a decade -- but especially in the near term. If they pick up their 2012 options on their biggest stars and pay Pujols 30 million bucks, they would owe nearly $100 million in 2012 to just seven players (Pujols, Matt Holliday, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jake Westbrook, Yadier Molina and Kyle Lohse). So they'd be looking, said an official of one team, at one of the most top-heavy payroll models of modern times."

Lastly, the Cubs. If Pujols is a free agent after the world series, every team should make a call. Even Pittsburgh. The odds would be worse than Llyod Christmas and mary Swanson hooking up but they should call. He's the best player in the game. In theory, the Cubs should be one of the teams in play. If you take payroll numbers as sign of a willingness to spend (and not a sign of team who has no money left to spend)the Cubs are the only top 5 teams in 2010 team payroll that doesn't have a first baseman under a long term contract or aren't being sued for investing in a Ponzi scheme.

But I personally don't see Pujols going to a division rival. I can't see him leaving st. louis with a decent offer. But even if albert left the cardinals and even if he somehow signed with the Cubs. You know his elbow would break on his first swing. These are the Cubs

Coovo said...

Stark Article:

Roller said...

Some good points, Mr. Level-Headed, especially about the Cards being top-heavy. That happened to the Astros recently (over 60% of their payroll was tied up in Oswalt, Lee, Berkman, and Tejada), and it made it hard for the team to make progress.

Was there ever any fear in Chicago that Jordan would leave in his prime? Was there ever fear that he would leave to play for the Cardinals?

Coovo said...

In 1994, I think most white sox fans knew it was either them or the Cardinals.

I don't remember there being any fear of jordan leaving, ever. When he retired the second time it was mostly because Phil Jackson wasn't coming back to coach and he didn't want to play for anyone else. There was also a work stoppage that year. Even when he came back with the Bullets, he fired Leonard Hamilton who he had for one year and hired Doug Collins. Someone who had played for before.

But its interesting you bring up Jordan. has a list of his salaries from year to year. Its kind of interesting. Then again it lists a salary in the year he didn't play

Ryan said...

Coov your comments on the negotiations are eerily similar to Jim's on the baseball page. I guess I agree with both of you, but I'll admit I fell into the "we gotta sign him NOW" mindset.

Some of the other arguments don't quite convince me though. I don't buy Stark's, since even though we'd owe 100 mill to those guys, that's basically our whole rotation, all-star catcher and two of the best hitters in the game, so it's not like that's a horrible deal.

And comparing us to other teams is tempting, but I don't see it quite as much as I see the argument that Pujols is a once in a lifetime player. As someone once said, I don't mind over paying for greatness, I hate over paying for mediocrity.

We can't mortgage the farm, not even for Pujols, but I'm gathering that these early negotiations at the very least didn't make liars out of either side.

And in terms of spreading out the ~$30million, I also don't know how easy that would be to do effectively in an offseason. I fear what would happen is our payroll would drop, our team would suck for several years and we'd rebuild.

You can't just replace Pujols.

Coovo said...

Ryan, I think you do have to consider that the Cardinal payroll in 2010 was around 94 mil. The scenario that Stark raises basically has the same amount of money for only seven players. Yes that is a great core but you've got 18 other players to sign.

Yes, there are a lot of what if's in that scenario but it is part of the equation. Maybe a big contract for pujols means an premature exit for Carpenter.

Ryan said...

Good points Coov, and I agree. The point I was trying to make against Stark was that I'm operating under the assumption that ownership is willing to spend a little extra than they might normally. I had thought they were waiting until the new stadium, which they got, now it's time to expand a little with the new revenue.

The only other point being, if it really is too tight on payroll, I'm not sure we should be arguing about Pujol's value at 28 vs. 30 million or 8 vs. 10 years, when really it's the other guys in that list we could move/argue about. Carpenter definitely comes to mind because of age, but those other two pitchers are innings eaters who could be replaced.

If it came down to a one to one comparison, a Pujols contract makes more sense to me than the one we just gave Holliday.

Kevin said...

It's also tough to talk about the expense of Albert without talking about the added revenue he brings in every season...
Who knows what that is, but I'm sure Lozano has a good idea...

Jim said...

real interesting. hadn't checked this site in a long time. i was about ready to chime in with "coov, i agree with you 100%", but mccabe already did that for me. i could be totally wrong, but it is interesting to see how a lot (most?) people just concluded that the cards would lose some negotiating advantage by letting him go to free agency. if anything, they might gain something as i think there is real question whether anyone will pay him what he wants (300 million). and if someone does, the cards don't really lose anything b/c they probably couldn't afford that anyway. whatever. i feel the cards are going to be a team in transition over the next 3 yrs or so. questions on pujols, now wainwright. carp - prob don't pick up his option next yr (at least at 15 million). that said, the cards get the bulk of their rev from ticket sales. and while i believe the cards will always be above avg in attendance, you generally need to put a winning team on the field, so i'm confident management will do that.

Roller said...

Yeah, some good points out here. I have reduced the threat level somewhat after hearing some sane thoughts from my friends.

I think it's really difficult right now to gauge whether or not the Cards pick up Carpenter's 2012 option. A lot of things to consider:

1) Carp's health in 2011 (knock on wood).
2) How Wainwright's rehab is going.
3) The status of El Hombre.
4) How Garcia fairs in 2011.

This is all so clearly McGwire's fault.

G. Smith said...

I don't have much to add on the specifics of the deal - but it does make me wonder if it ever makes sense for a top player to settle for playing on a great team in a great baseball town without getting top dollars? Does anyone do that anymore? is that puppy dog optimism?