Albert Pujols could have been our generation's Stan Musial. In fact, offensively, he will be better than Stan Musial by the time his career ends. If there's one thing I appreciate, it's star players that play their entire career in one city, through ups and downs, through championships and rebuilding seasons, through different stes of management and ownership, and spanning generations of players that come and go. Fixtures: Kirby, Cal, Stan, Derek, even Kent, come to mind. Note that most of these guys are identifiable by just one name. There's a sentamentality -- a special connection with the city, state and fan base -- that accompanies these unique players long after their days grinding it out between the foul lines have long since passed.
It is being reported that Pujols has signed with the Angels for 10 years, and a total contract value of between $250 and $260 million. The full details aren't in yet. Furthermore, we don't know what the Cardinals' offer topped out at. But, for the sake of argument, if the Cardinals matched the years, and were within $2-3 million per year of the Angels, then I say shame on Albert. For some reason, I foolishly believed -- or wanted to believe -- that Pujols truly valued the St. Louis fans, the community, and his legacy in that city more than it turns out he actually did.
He played in 3 World Series in his 11 years in St. Louis, winning 2. That's pretty remarkable. Though the Cardinals are rarely a pick to go to the World Series going into each season, Pujols, and his amazing offensive skills, catapulted them to success twice. Most players consider themselves very lucky to go to 1 World Series, and even luckier to win it. Clearly, Pujols values the money more than he does playing for a competitive team. This is not to state that the Angels won't be great in years to come -- in fact, they very well might become favorites to win the AL West in 2012 now -- but only to state that Pujols left a pretty great team in St. Louis -- the defending World Series champions -- for a team that, last year, didn't even make the playoffs, and that competes in a division with the new-perennial favorite Texas Rangers. Maybe he wants a new challenge and a change of scenery?
I'd like to say that I wish Pujols the best, but I guess I don't. Not right now, anyway. I'm sure he will continue to do great charity work in California, and will probably continue to support whatever initiatives he started in St. Louis. I just can't help but feel that, in exchange for about 10 percent of his total career income, Pujols missed out on an opportunity to truly immortalize himself in the St. Louis community. I wonder if he had a conversation with his "idol," Stan Musial at any point in this process? Probably not.
I'll probably have some more thoughts once the contract details are posted, but for now, this is how I feel. I'd be happy to hear what others think.