Damn the Statistics: The Cards Should Bring Pujols Home for Good
The Los Angeles Angels announced yesterday that they designated Albert Pujols for assignment, effectively ending his time with the Angels.I think the Cardinals should bring him home for good.
Many Missourians will remember Pujols time with the St. Louis Cardinals and the monster contract that lured him to Los Angeles. His end with the Angels was characterized by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as "a sudden and unexpected end to a monster contract that was supposed to last long after he made history."
That said, Pujols contract never paid off for the Angels. At least when it came to a World Series ring or consistent trips to the playoffs. He had some historic moments playing for the Angels including hitting his 500 and 600 home runs. His 3,000 hit. And he and Hank Aaron are the only players to ever amass 3,000 hits, 600 home runs, and 600 doubles.
“The Angels Organization proudly signed Albert Pujols in 2011, and are honored that he has worn an Angels jersey for nearly half of his Hall-of-Fame Career. Albert’s historical accomplishments, both on and off the field, serve as an inspiration to athletes everywhere, and his actions define what it means to be a true Superstar," said Angels owner Arte Moreno in an Angels Press Release.
According to the Post-Dispatch, Pujols was the last Cardinal to win the Rookie of the Year award. He also won six Silver Sluggers, two Gold Glove Awards, and two World Series titles. Nine of his ten All-Star Game appearances were also with the Cardinals.
Braulio Perez on Fansided thinks it's a no brainer for the Cardinals to bring him back to St. Louis to finish out his career. And I do too. I mean Pujols may have been an Angel for ten years, but his name to me will always be synonymous with the Cardinals.
The Post-Dispatch asserts that the move by the Angels will allow Pujols "to explore openings with other teams that might permit more playing time or a reunion that appeals to him." That reunion either comes with the Cardinals, or old Cardinals manager Tony La Russa now managing the White Sox.
Another Fansided article makes the argument there's a chance Pujols might not be signed by anyone and suggests he'd be downgrade for many teams:
In fact, he’s been hurting the Angels at the plate for quite some time. His on-base percentage and walk percentage are below the league average, while he strikeout rate is up from his career averages. When Pujols does put the ball in play, it doesn’t work out to his advantage frequently enough. His batting average on balls in play, frequently a good barometer of barrel rate and, quite honestly, bad luck, is far below the league average at .176.
The article also asserts that the White Sox have no interest in him, and that the Cardinals aren't a good fit because there's no Designated Hitter in the National League, which seems to leave American League teams not in contention to sign him to a cheap one year deal in the hopes it'll draw fans to the ballpark.
I hope the Cardinals throw him a life line even if it doesn't make a lot of sense on paper. Pujols best years were as a Cardinal. And there's no not living up to his contract as a Cardinal. Which, as absurd as that statement is, will at least in the short term be the legacy of his free agent signing with the Angels.
There's one intriguing detail the Post-Dispatch article mentions. Pujols has an option to accept a 10-year $10 million dollar personal services contract with the Angels upon his retirement. The Post-Dispatch says that was one of the things the Angels offered, that the Cardinals thought was assumed.
Now could be the time for the Cardinals to step up and make good on that assumed promise. It'll help one of their greats end his career gracefully while offering him a path forward in baseball beyond the field. As a Cardinal. It's time for old friends to re-connect.