It’s Tuesday, so that means it’s time for another edition of Rich’s Rants. Man, I’m glad Spring Training officially starts this week, this time of year is just so slow for someone who doesn’t follow the NBA or the NHL and won’t bother with college basketball for another couple of weeks. Only two topics have jumped out at me over the last week and both of them came to a head yesterday – CC Sabathia not dismissing opting out at the end of the 2011 season and the Albert Pujols contract situation.
Let’s start with CC Sabathia not saying whether he would opt out after the 2011 season or not. To me, this is basically a non-issue. Yes, it would be great if CC would just come out and say “I’m not opting out”, but we all know that would never happen. Why would CC do anything that could possibly cost him money? If he has a down year (I don’t think the newly “slimmed down” CC will have a down year), he simply doesn’t opt out and he continues as a Yankee making 23 million dollars for the remainder of his current contract. If he has another Cy Young worthy season, he opts out and simply re-signs with the Yankees for two or three more years on top of what is left in his current deal (after this season, he would have four years remaining on his current deal) at maybe some additional money. So, at the end of this season, the Yankees will have CC for either 4 more years at 23 million per or they’ll get him for 7 more years at anywhere between 23 and 25 million per. Yankee fans don’t worry! This is basically the media “creating” a story in what has been a relatively slow month for baseball leading up to Spring Training.
So, let’s move on from the non-story of CC’s not opting out to a real story that will last all season long; Albert Pujols and his pending free agency. The deadline of noon tomorrow (February 16th) has been set for Pujols and the Cardinals to agree to an extension or Pujols will become a free agent at the end of this season. Pujols is asking for a 10 year/300 million dollar deal and the rumor is the Cardinals already offered a 7 year/210 million dollar deal which Pujols declined. If you do the math, you’ll see the money per year was identical – 30 million per; so it appears Pujols isn’t necessarily after just 30 million a year, he also wants a 10 year deal. Only one problem with that – he’s getting older. Right now he’s 31, though there’s rumors he might actually be older. In this day and age, I just don’t see many teams giving contracts to players till they’re in their 40s. ARod’s recent “decline” and the severe decline in the numbers of players with big power numbers/high OPS after the age of 35 since PED testing began (only 1 player last year over the age of 37 had an OPS higher than .728 that wasn’t a DH), may just give teams pause in giving high dollar/long term contracts to aging players (unless you’re the New York Yankees of course).
So, as a Cardinal fan, should you be worried? Most definitely. I just don’t think the Cardinals are willing to tie up that much money into a player when he’s 38, 39, 40 and 41. I do believe Pujols becomes a free agent after the 2011 season. Can’t they trade Pujols, he’s got to be worth a ton of prospects/already proven stars? No they can’t. He has a full no-trade clause and has already said he’d veto any trade. The best news for Cardinal fans is the big guns that would bid for his services, the Yankees, the Red Sox and the Phillies, are set at first base for the long term already; so that eliminates the concern of one of those teams simply swooping in with more money and signing Pujols. However, there are three teams that I believe will be in the mix for Pujols – the Mets, the Dodgers and the Cubs. You can pretty much rule the Dodgers out unless they get their ownership situation figured out soon. The Mets? The city of New York would love for Pujols to become a Met, but that would require that ownership’s financial situation to be straightened out and for their ownership to actually be willing to make a move that actually, you know, helps the team. So that leaves the Cubs.
Why the Cubs? This off-season they signed Carlos Pena to play first, but it was only for a one year deal not only because you never know what you’re going to get with Pena but also on the off-chance that Pujols became a free agent. They also have the money and add in the extra benefit of taking their rival’s best player and you end up with the perfect storm for them to get Pujols. Can you imagine the numbers Pujols would put up playing in Wrigley 81 games a year? I think this is why the Cubs would offer the 10 year deal the Cards are seeming to not want to do; they’re not too concerned about too big a drop in his stats at the end of the 10 years because of playing in Wrigley. So, Cardinal fans, I would be praying to the baseball gods that the Cardinals and Pujols can work something out between today and noon tomorrow!
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? You can send questions or comments via email to email@example.com, you can also leave a comment below, on my Facebook Page or on Twitter. Remember, any email or comment you make, may just make it into Rich’s Replies each Friday! Also, come back each Tuesday for another edition of Rich’s Rants!