|ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Pujols would look good in Cubby blue|
|Written by Adam Jun, Daily Vidette Sports Columnist|
|Tuesday, 15 February 2011 16:17|
“I am happy to finally be on the right side of the rivalry.”
Those were the pointed words St. Louis Cardinals second baseman and former Chicago Cub, Ryan Theriot, spoke when asked about two of baseball’s oldest adversaries
That viewpoint doesn’t hold as much clout if Albert Pujols suited up with the Cubs.
Shockingly, that possibility looms for 2012 as contract talks between Pujols' agent and the Cardinals are said to be at a standstill.
The Cardinals slugger has set Feb. 16, the day pitchers and catchers report to camp as the deadline to negotiate. If that happens, Cubs fans need to leave any anti-Pujols t-shirts, hat and other memorabilia in the closet for the 2011 season because the games brightest star might be enticed to play for the loveable losers in 2012.
Unlike the other traditional big spenders, the Cubs do not have a stud signed to a long-term mega deal or a promising youngster anchoring first base. In New York, the Yankees are committed to Mark Teixeira and Mets have budding star Ike Davis. The Boston Red Sox just signed Adrian Gonzalez to a long term contract.
The Chicago White Sox are committed to the Adam Dunn/Paul Konerko tandem. In Los Angeles, the Angels have home-grown slugger Kendry Morales and the Dodgers are still in financial turmoil amidst a power struggle between owners.
By no means can those teams completely be ruled out because Pujols is baseball’s undisputed greatest player so teams may very well get creative to try and land him. It won’t be easy if they do, though.
On the other hand, the Cubs will have an opening at first base and are in great financial position to ink a deal. All the following contracts will be coming off the books after 2011: Carlos Silva ($12 million), Aramis Ramirez ($14.6 million), Kosuke Fukudome ($13.5million), and $5 million of Carlos Pena’s recently-signed one year deal, $10 million.
Subtract $4 million to buy out Ramirez and Silva ($2 each) and the Cubs have roughly $40 million moving forward to tempt Prince Albert.
Money is going to be a key factor because Albert reportedly feels he already gave the Cardinals a huge hometown discount in his last contract which when it expires, will have paid him $116 million over eight years. I completely agree with him. Compared to baseball’s other stars, “The Machine” has been grossly underpaid. When someone is the best at their craft, they should be compensated as such.
Pujols has been the best in the game since he crossed the white lines for the first time as a rookie in 2001. His greatness is illustrated by his career averages which have occurred with more symmetry every season then a mirror image: 331 batting average, 123 runs, 128 RBIs, 44 bombs, with a .426 on base percentage. Read those numbers again real quick, they’re insane.
Pujols has a legitimate shot to become the greatest player EVER. That means Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ted Williams and anyone else considered to be the greatest could all be looking up at Albert by the time he hangs up his spikes for good. The Cubs could truly use this kind of player.
It may be an unlikely scenario and deep down, I think we all have a feeling he won’t tear out adoring Cardinals fans hearts by joining the team’s most hated rivals.
It doesn’t hurt for a Cubs fan to dream though, it keeps us thinking positive. It’s not impossible that Albert comes to the North Side.
After all, like little J.P. from the movie “Angels in the Outfield” says, “Hey, it could happen!”