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Fan’s take: Five reasons Albert Pujols will stay in St. Louis
Albert Pujols(notes) is the ultimate franchise player. Pujols, who anchors first base for the St. Louis Cardinals, is also the clean-up hitter for the Redbirds. But something is amiss in St. Louis these days. Pujols will become a free agent at the end of the year after not coming to terms with St. Louis management. That means Pujols could leave the only Major League Baseball team he has ever suited up for. Fans in St. Louis aren't happy with that idea. Pujols isn't happy that St. Louis management didn't offer up the type of contract that would make him one of the highest paid baseball players for the long term.
The organization didn't want to offer a 10-year deal according to various reports. The money wasn't as big of an issue as the longevity of the contract Pujols was pursuing. So why should he stick around in St. Louis? Why should the Cardinals go to bat to keep him around? Here are five reasons why Pujols should stay and be kept in St. Louis.
1) Pujols is the current St. Louis brand
Sooner or later, the Cardinals will have to live life without Albert Pujols. Let's face it, as players grow older they lose their ability to play at such a high level. What the Cardinals have to face right now is that Albert Pujols is the St. Louis brand. He's the guy people come to the ballpark to see every day of the baseball season. He's the person people think about regardless of how well Chris Carpenter(notes) pitches. Everyone wants to see one Albert Pujols home run when they visit Busch Stadium. Until that changes and his career begins to fade, the St. Louis Cardinals are better putting up the money to keep him around. There is no better branding for a baseball team than to possess one of, if not, the best players in the entire game. Pujols hasn't just been the best player in baseball for a short time-he's enjoyed that honor for a decade. Why not honor him with a huge contract making him one of the highest paid players for the long term?
2) St. Louis can't let Pujols become a Yankee
If there ever was a time when a middle market franchise needed to step up, this is it. Many of the best players in baseball opt to go for the big bucks in New York to play for the Yankees. The Cardinals just can't afford to let it happen. Some thought in the Midwest would certainly center on the fact that Albert Pujols is being selfish. The Midwest way is to be humble, loyal and proud. Pujols isn't exactly doing that by asking for such a hefty contract. At the same time, the Cardinals aren't exactly bending over backwards to show appreciation in the form of finances.
If Albert does leave to play for a big market team, it would make Cardinal fans always wonder if they will ever hang on to any other future great players. There would always be a thought that nothing is forever in terms of players sticking around for St. Louis. Albert Pujols is the absolute biggest fish in the sea. If the Cardinals let him go, fans will never forgive him or forget that St. Louis management let him walk away.
3) Pujols will shatter many records at Busch Stadium
The upcoming years for Albert Pujols could include many record breaking moments that could be achieved in a Cardinals uniform. Pujols is on pace to become the home run champ. He'll smash many major league baseball records if he stays healthy. The home run chase alone will be worth the price of admission when Albert gets closer. A 10 year contract means Cardinal fans get to witness some of the most memorable moments in Major League Baseball history.
4) If anyone deserves right to finish career with one team, it's Pujols
Pujols has been a main stay with the St. Louis Cardinals over the past decade. What he has accomplished is remarkable. It wouldn't seem like the Cardinals without Pujols. It wouldn't seem right if Albert didn't play his final game to a standing ovation at Busch Stadium. Pujols might just go down as the best individual baseball player in the history of the game. That's not an exaggeration. He's heading in that direction and the St. Louis Cardinals organization is quite aware of it. That's why Albert Pujols will stay and be kept by the Cardinals. If anyone ever deserved a gazillion dollars, it's Pujols. He is the best the game has had to offer over such a long period of time. He's a rock of consistency. There is probably no batter an opposing pitcher is more afraid of. If Pujols stays, opposing pitchers will always be trying to figure out how to get around the guy who bats in the number four slot.
5) Great players want to play with great players
Free agents want to play with other great players. Having Albert Pujols in the lineup is a sign that the Cardinals organization is committed to keeping great players around. Guys like Matt Holliday(notes) might not stick around or be available to the Cardinals if a rock like Albert Pujols isn't in the middle of the lineup. Let's face it that great players usually serve as a magnet for teams signing other great players. Look at the NBA where LeBron, Wade and Bosh teamed up. Money isn't certainly everything but being able to compete for championships usually is.
If Pujols stays in St. Louis, it's more than likely that other great players will want to play by his side. He's the kind of instant offense that will help a mediocre pitcher pick up a few more wins every year. St. Louis wouldn't be nearly as attractive to free agents without Pujols in the clubhouse. A new contract for Pujols would probably consume a bit more money that could be used for additional free agents. If the Cardinals were pursuing Albert as a free agent right now, they'd undoubtedly have to fork over the money he is asking for or more to keep in Cardinal red. So why not treat Albert as a free agent that could potentially stabilize your team for the next decade?
Albert Pujols Talks Break Off, ESPN.com, ESPN News Services
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