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Hallelujah! Albert Pujols is Out of the National League: Chicago Cub Fan’s Take
The Chicago Cubs just made their biggest move of the 2011-12 MLB offseason. The best part was that they didn't spend a dime.
The Cubs didn't have to spend nearly $254 million to lure Albert Pujols(notes) away from the St. Louis Cardinals. Instead, the Anaheim Angels on Thursday, Dec. 8 decided to do that. The Angels are expecting to spend a combined $330 million on C.J. Wilson(notes) and Pujols. Not only does this mean that Pujols will leave the Cardinals, but he's also out of the National League (NL) for what should be the remainder of his career.
Okay; you're right that this technically isn't the Cubs' move. However, removing Pujols from the NL Central follows the theory of "Addition by subtraction." Along with the potential departure of Prince Fielder(notes) from the Milwaukee Brewers, these are the best things that could happen for the Cubs in terms of them competing for the division, both for the short term and long term.
The Cardinals might not have an immediate replacement for Pujols. Allen Craig recently had knee surgery that's expected to keep him out for four-to-six months. The surgery was conducted on November 18, 2011. That puts his timeline to return from anywhere between March through May.
So the Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and Cubs have all gotten better without spending a dime by these departures. The good news for the Cardinals is that they'll have more money to potentially build a more-complete starting rotation. They already should be better since Adam Wainwright(notes) will return from Tommy John surgery.
The NL Central has become much more interesting in 2012. The Cardinals have now lost their best hitter and manager Tony La Russa, who retired following the World Series. The Brewers shouldn't be as good without Fielder serving as protection for Ryan Braun(notes). The Astros are horrible. The Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1992. The Reds have Dusty Baker.
Could the Cubs take advantage of a weak division in Theo Epstein's first season? I suppose it's not impossible. However, they're also in a rebuilding phase and could have glaring weaknesses in their lineup and starting rotation.
But it's nice to know that Dale Sveum won't have to decide on whether he should allow a middle reliever to pitch to Pujols in the bottom of the 12th inning with nobody on and two outs.
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. He immediately gained an admiration for Cubs fans after watching numerous games on WGN during the mid-90s. His favorite Cubs moment was Kerry Wood's(notes) 1-hitter, 20K extravaganza that was only denied of a no-hitter by Kevin Orie's defensive blunder. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months.
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