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Today's POTD takes a look at Albert Pujols in his last season with the St. Louis Cardinals.   The 31 year-old first baseman signed a 10-year deal worth $254-million with the Los Angeles Angels.

This photo was a clue Albert Pujols would split for greener pastures after 2011.  Get it?  :D 

Pujols manning first base during a May 4 game against the Florida Marlins at Busch Stadium.

Pujols gets ready for his first plate appearance of the evening and would later single to center off Marlins starter Javier Vazquez.  Florida catcher Brett Hayes gives former Jay John Buck a night off behind the dish.

Pujols gets ready to greet Matt Holliday after the two of them scored when Marlins left fielder Emilio Bonifacio booted one in left field off the bat of Lance Berkman.

Pujols would finish the game 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored but the Cardinals lost to the Marlins 8-7.

Albert Pujols finished the season batting .299 with 37 home runs and 99 runs batted in.  Over 11 seasons in St. Louis, Pujols hit .328/.420/.617 with 445 homers and 1,328 RBI.  He won two World Series rings, three Most Valuable Player Awards and nine All-Star teams.  You can find two more photos of Phat Albert in this discussion thread from February.
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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
electric carrot - Saturday, December 10 2011 @ 02:29 PM EST (#248376) #
I got a feeling that the Cardinals dodged a bullet here and the Angels aren't going to reap much of the value of this contract.  Although I think this move puts the Angels in the mix for the WS for 2012 & 13 -- Pujols strikes me as a guy with a few dark secrets. And 10 years, it's just too long for a guy his age.
sam - Saturday, December 10 2011 @ 02:49 PM EST (#248379) #
Hey, Colby Rasmus hit .300 at one point.
92-93 - Saturday, December 10 2011 @ 03:07 PM EST (#248381) #
Incredibly dumb decision by Pujols. His long term legacy in St. Louis is negatively affected, and he won't be allowed to fade into the sunset gracefully in LA as he would've been in STL. Nobody would have cared in STL if he sucked on the back end of that deal because he's Albert Pujols, El Hombre, bringer of 2 World Series and multiple playoff appearances. In Anaheim the minute he starts to struggle (wasn't he hitting like .230 this year in May?) fans will turn on him because of the expectations that come with his new contract. I sure hope he enjoys the extra 4m a year or whatever it is.

St. Louis, on the other hand, should probably be thrilled. You don't want to lock yourself down to so much uncertainty, and they now have that money to spend and augment their roster in other places (like by signing Rafael Furcal). I don't even think they'll necessarily be any worse in 2012 - if Wainwright can come back and be a 4-5 win pitcher (he was a 6 the 2 years prior to Tommy John) and they spend the Pujols money well on the margins, you could be looking at a better Cardinals team in 2012.

When STL signed Matt Holliday long term they probably should have locked down Pujols to an 8 year, high AAV extension right there. Once they let him hit free agency he was bound to look for a record setting deal, and if didn't have his worst year in 2011 he probably would have received it.
Ishai - Saturday, December 10 2011 @ 05:02 PM EST (#248389) #
"Incredibly dumb decision by Pujols."

To oversimplify: there are three variables for athletes when making decisions such as these: money, legacy, and life. We like to accuse athletes of sacrificing legacy for money, while we completely ignore the life factor. Maybe Pujols wants to live in L.A. Maybe he wants to try something different. Sometimes people like change in life. It's an incredibly dumb decision only if Pujols cares solely about how he is perceived. Sometimes it makes one mad that an athlete doesn't seem to care about their symbolic existence as much as, we, the fans do; but that means we're incredibly dumb, not them.
Magpie - Saturday, December 10 2011 @ 06:41 PM EST (#248392) #
Incredibly dumb decision by Pujols.

Time will tell, and we simply don't know everything that went into the decision-making process. The Cardinals may have irritated him somehow; the prospect of being the Latino superstar in southern California may have had a certain appeal. Who knows. He might not suck completely on the back end of this deal, and the option to DH may ease things a bit; he might help bring Anaheim a championship or two.

I'd agree that he's now removed himself from the divine pantheon of Cardinals (Musial, Gibson, maybe Brock) and henceforth in Missori must be celebrated amongst such lesser Redbirds as Medwick and Hernandez. That may not be nearly as important to him as it is to other people. Generally, I have to think that signing a contract for $250 million dollars isn't completely stupid.
Michael - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 02:20 AM EST (#248407) #
I think this is a good deal for LA. Sure, likely he'll be overpaid in the final few years of the deal, but he'll be underpaid at the front end too.

How much would be a fair 1 year contract for Pujols for next year? $35M? $40M?

What is the most money you'd pay Pujols as a team owner if you got Pujols to sign a Wakefield like deal where you pay Pujols $XM for 1 year, with a continual team option for $XM for 1 year for the next year?

Be interesting to see a player who is set for life go for this sort of maximal payout short duration contract rather than the massive long term one.
Mike Green - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 10:30 AM EST (#248411) #
Pujols has chosen the Frank Robinson path (rather than having it happen to him).  It is true that Frank is not remembered in either Cincinnati or Baltimore the way that he would had he been with one club, but knowledgeable baseball fans everywhere admire him. 

For Cardinal fans to not admire and respect him reflects a misunderstanding about the economics of the game.  He signed a team-friendly long-term contract early in his career (but at a point when it was obvious that he was great and could have done better financially if money was the only thing that was important to him).  The reason was that he simply wanted to stay put.  My instinct is that he realizes that if he wants to play for the next 10 years, the last 3-4 of them will have to be as a DH.  He figured that he was going to have make a change, and that he might as well make it now so that he can simply play and stay put. 

I think that he loves the game and wants to play as long as possible with a minimum of disruption. 

bball12 - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 10:40 AM EST (#248412) #
Do you really think anyone - including Albert - expect him to perform at his past level for 10 more years? Or anything even close to that?

Albert basically got $40- 50 million per year for the reasonable expectation of similar performance for the next 5 years or so.

All the negotiators did was spread out the payments over 10 years at a rate that was acceptable to both parties.

Saying it was a dumb move by Albert is laughable.
I wouldnt mind being called dumb if I were able to sign a contract like that.

Chuck - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 11:14 AM EST (#248414) #

He figured that he was going to have make a change, and that he might as well make it now so that he can simply play and stay put. 

Yes. I think that many who presume to evaluate the merits of Pujols' decision are underestimating something that is clearly important to the man: the comfort of continuity and predictability that comes from staying put. A decade in St. Louis. And now a decade in LA. He's got this one transition to make and that'll be that. A story in two chapters. An inexpensive ascendancy. An expensive denouement.

Why would anyone presume to know what's best for another adult, especially a total stranger? And why should anyone presume that what we deem important for the man are what he deems important for himself?

And the betrayal that Cardinals fans are feeling? What juvenile crap. Devout fandom is often manifested in self-imposed infantilization. I'm sure psychiatrists can explain why. I personally don't get it.

Magpie - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 12:54 PM EST (#248419) #
It occurs to me that you never really know a what a player's "legacy" is going to me until he's done creating it. If this was January 1977, we might be talking similarly about a 31 year old outfielder who had just signed an enormous deal as a free agent. We thought we knew all we needed to know about Reggie Jackson - the AL MVP, the World Series MVP, the three championships, some very famous homers and hits. Surely all that was left was for him to pad his counting numbers for Cooperstown. It turned out he had a whole new chapter to write, one in many ways even more dazzling than the first one.
Magpie - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 01:00 PM EST (#248420) #
The reason was that he simply wanted to stay put.

Along these lines, one of the problems with the Miami negotiation was their unwillingness to provide a no-trade clause.
92-93 - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 01:31 PM EST (#248421) #
If one can't decipher the difference between calling a decision dumb and a person dumb, they may just be...

And if Pujols really valued "the comfort of continuity and predictability that comes from staying put", why would he leave STL?
pubster - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 02:32 PM EST (#248424) #
92-93, calling the decision dumb is pretty ignorant.

As you havent lived a day in his shoes, and you dont know whats going through his mind and what his motivations are.

I guess its easy being a know-it-all on the internet.

Original Ryan - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 02:50 PM EST (#248425) #
And the betrayal that Cardinals fans are feeling? What juvenile crap. Devout fandom is often manifested in self-imposed infantilization. I'm sure psychiatrists can explain why. I personally don't get it.

Me neither. Had Pujols been with the Angels the last ten years and signed with the Cardinals this offseason, I doubt many Cardinals fans would be complaining about his lack of loyalty. They'd be overjoyed that a player showed "disloyalty" to his now-former team.

Fans shouldn't expect loyalty from their own players when they are hoping for disloyalty from everyone else's.

92-93 - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 03:11 PM EST (#248427) #
So in essence, every decision one makes has to be judged by others as the correct one. Got ya, pubster.
Magpie - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 03:17 PM EST (#248428) #
And if Pujols really valued "the comfort of continuity and predictability that comes from staying put", why would he leave STL?

It's a fair question, because it is indeed something he seems to value (and wants to maintain in his new digs.) Who knows? It probably wasn't one thing. Some combination of factors. A new challenge, of some sorts. I keep thinking this is a guy who's spent most of his American life in Missouri, since high school - I wonder if he wanted to go to a place with a sizeable Latino community. He's a religious man who takes working with the community very seriously, and the idea of being the Latino superstar in Los Angeles (or Miami) appealed to those parts of his character. But who knows?

I don't think you can say his decision was either stupid or smart. Staying in St. Louis was safe, going anywhere else was slightly less safe. I do expect it to work out for both him and the Angels. Sure, when he's 40 he won't be the player he is now. But he's Albert Pujols. He's up pretty high on the mountain. He can come down a long, long way and still help you. Quite a bit.
greenfrog - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 04:19 PM EST (#248434) #
92-93, you picked two factors (his baseball legacy and the degree to which fans will tolerate dips or a decline in his performance) and concluded that it was "an incredibly dumb decision." My response would be:

- Even assuming that his legacy will be diminished by playing for two teams instead of one (a questionable assumption requiring evidence I would think), there are obviously multiple factors that go into such a big decision. Money, the DH option, climate, linguistic and cultural environment, franchise stability/competitiveness/finances, proximity to family and friends, professional relationships, to name a few. We all consider these factors when making big life decisions; why shouldn't Pujols do the same?

- Even assuming the primacy of the two factors you highlighted, how do you know for sure that they will tilt against Pujols in Anaheim? Do you have any evidence to back up this assertion? For example, I could just as easily see laid-back California fans being more tolerant of a gracefully declining DH as I could St. Louis fans tolerating an aging, slow, iron-gloved LF/1B (perhaps blocking some prospect) for years and years. Of course, all this is conjecture, which is precisely my point.

- Lastly: why the compulsion to make an instant pronouncement on Pujols's decision? It might turn out to be one of the smartest decisions of his career. Conversely, it might turn out to be a disaster. Surely it's going to take some time for the implications of his decision to unfold. And if you love baseball and admire Pujols as one of its all-time greats, why not get behind him a bit and root for it all to work out? That would seem to be more fun that waiting ten years to say, I told you so!
Chuck - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 05:59 PM EST (#248435) #

Who knows? It probably wasn't one thing. Some combination of factors.

This is from Hardball Talk.

pubster - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 07:59 PM EST (#248443) #
If you dont know Albert personally, if you havent spent time with Albert or his family, if you really dont know anything about the man except for what he's done on the diamond its VERY ignorant to call what job offer he decides to take as an 'Incredibly dumb decision'.

I mean if I told you that you made an incredibly dumb decision to change jobs I would be out of line. It would be very ignorant of me to make such statements without knowing anything about you.

Not cool. Attitudes like that lack open mindedness. Making strong judgements without having any information. Part of whats really wrong with the world today. Not cool.
Richard S.S. - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 09:25 PM EST (#248450) #
Pujols signed for 10 years to play Baseball in NO WINTER land plus another 10 years as consultant to the owner Arte Moreno (in one of the early stories of the signings).   20 years in La-La Land, and bikinis, must be nice!   Hurricanes, SNOW or Earthquakes, I know what my choice would be.
92-93 - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 09:38 PM EST (#248452) #
greenfrog, let me start by saying Albert Pujols is my favourite player. I think he's the best right handed hitter ever if he retires today, and I've immensely enjoyed watching him play these last 10+ years. I still hold out hope that the Jays were the 4th team in on Pujols, the mystery team. I will most definitely be behind him and rooting for him, except for the 4 summer games he visits the Rogers Centre, including Canada Day.

You list many good factors that go into a player's decision. However, we're basically clueless on all of them. So we evaluate what we know, not what Albert knows. And what we know is that Albert signed an extension once to stay in St. Louis and has lived there his entire adult life.

I don't know the fans will turn against him. I hope Albert flourishes there for the length of the contract. All I'm saying is that if he doesn't, you can bet the fans are going to turn on him, just like Yankees fans have no problem booing Alex freaking Rodriguez, but there's nary a peep when Jeter is sucking.

There's no compulsion to make an instant pronouncement, but we come here to discuss baseball and give our opinions. You guys got mine, and you're all entitled to yours. And my opinion, given what I can see, is that he made a very poor one. Obviously he had all the right reasons in the world, in his mind, to make the decision that he did.

If you have a problem with me being critical of his decision, you should have a problem with anyone who questions the decision of a GM or a manager.
greenfrog - Sunday, December 11 2011 @ 10:16 PM EST (#248456) #
Personally, I think Pujols made a great choice. Contending team that should be good for a while, solid manager (Matheny man-crushes aside), highly-regarded new GM, great climate, chance to DH late in his career, new environment (I actually think the change could be reinvigorating after the length of time he spent in St. Louis), deep-pocketed owner, huge contract...honestly, I can't see how he could have done much better.

And sorry, but I think the A-Rod comp is specious. First, A-Rod plays in New York, where fans are notoriously tough. Second, A-Rod has always been a lightning rod for controversy, with his preening attitude and fake "I got it" popup calls and PEDs and Lord knows what else. Pujols is a much-beloved player with impeccable character whom the Anaheim fans are going to love. Even when he declines, my guess is that Pujols will be regarded with respect and veneration by the fans. Yes, the enormous contract is a big risk, but considering that LAA added Pujols and Wilson *after* the Wells debacle is a good indication that down the road ownership still will be able to afford a good team (even when Pujols is no longer an All-Star and is playing more of a supporting role).
Richard S.S. - Monday, December 12 2011 @ 12:36 AM EST (#248459) #

LAA got lucky as their TV contract with their RSN (Regional Sports Network) had an opt-out clause in it.   Two of the MAJOR content producers switched away from the RSN.   LAA's massive new TV contract with their RSN puts $80.0 MM more per year into payroll.   (Texas' massive new TV contract with their RSN puts $85.0 MM more per year into Payroll.)   This allows both teams to sustain $200.0+ MM payrolls.   Content is King.   St.Louis still has years to run on their old TV contract with their RSN.   How unfortunate for them.

I would like to know if our RSN (Rogers Sports Net) is paying Fair Market value for Toronto Blue Jays content, and, how much.   Baseball (162 G) starts early March (Preseason) and finishes very late October (Post season).   Their new acquisitions provide: Hockey (82 G),(Canada #1 Sport), starts late September (Preseason) and finishes early -mid June (Postseason).   Basketball (82 G) starts mid-late October (preseason) and finishes late May (postseason).

James W - Monday, December 12 2011 @ 08:58 AM EST (#248462) #
Rogers Sportsnet is paying nothing for Blue Jays content.
Moe - Monday, December 12 2011 @ 10:48 AM EST (#248469) #
Rogers Sportsnet is paying nothing for Blue Jays content.

I'm sure they make a (nominal) payment for internal accounting purposes.  Also, there is the opportunity cost: presumably they could sell the Jays TV rights on the open market. By not doing that, they forgo whatever they could get from TSN/CBC/new network.

An interesting question is what would be a reasonable amount for the right to broadcast all Jays games in all of Canada? 30m/year? 50m/year?

ayjackson - Monday, December 12 2011 @ 01:17 PM EST (#248490) #

I would like to know if our RSN (Rogers Sports Net) is paying Fair Market value for Toronto Blue Jays content, and, how much.

Rogers Sportsnet revenue for 2010 was $217m.  EBITDA was $55m, for an approximate 25% margin.  This is right in line with the overall EBITDA margin for the Specialty TV division of the company (24-28%).  All things equal, if they were paying less than market value for their Jays content, you would expect their margin to be higher than the average for the segment.

Sportsnet revenue related to the Jays must be less than 40% of total Sportsnet revenue.  Maybe as little as 25%.  (They own regional NHL broadcast rights for most Canadian teams.)  So from an EBITDA perspective, I'm thinking Jays content on RSN contributes $10-15m of cash flow annually.

According to analyst reports, Jays revenues in 2011 will be $168m and player costs will be $101m (60%).  Even if the value of the TV contract is understated by a few million, the wage structure seems to be in line with accepted norms in pro sports.  It looks like with a cap of $10-12m on draft and Int'l FA, a wage book of $90-95m should be currently sustainable.

Magpie - Monday, December 12 2011 @ 09:31 PM EST (#248569) #
The Cardinals may have irritated him somehow

It turns out that St.Louis initially offering just a five year deal bothered both Pujols and his wife. Quite a bit.

"When you have somebody say 'We want you to be a Cardinal for life' and only offer you a five-year deal, it kind of confused us," Diedre Pujols said.
ogator - Tuesday, December 13 2011 @ 12:11 PM EST (#248599) #
  I wish once in my life someone had insulted me with a five year offer of over 100 million dollars.  I know, I know, my OPS isn't much to get excited about.  We live in such a strange world where so many have so little and yet some people are insulted by offers of 100 million dollars.  All things in perspective.  He did eventually sign for 250 million plus.  I'm not saying anything original but to be miffed by an offer of 100 million dollars...  I hope Mr. and Mrs Pujols can see the absurdity of their miffedness, otherwise, they are living in some Marie Antoinette kind of world.
John Northey - Tuesday, December 13 2011 @ 12:17 PM EST (#248601) #
Well, I think the Pujols' were insulted that the Cardinals ownership wanted to pocket the $100 million instead of giving it to them as they (well, Albert) are the ones earning it.

Fangraphs says that Pujols made the Cardinals $100 million+ in the last deal he signed and given how he performed I can believe it. I can understand him going 'hey, just a minute here, howsabout I get some of that this time'. Especially when someone else came up and said 'here you go'.
Chuck - Tuesday, December 13 2011 @ 05:57 PM EST (#248636) #

I hope Mr. and Mrs Pujols can see the absurdity of their miffedness, otherwise, they are living in some Marie Antoinette kind of world.

Isn't everything relative? Would a sub-Sarahan African surviving on a dollar a day not be similarly put off by a North American grousing about earning $50K, say, rather than the $60K he thinks he deserves?

Pujols works in an industry that generates a ton of revenue. Why should he not deserve fair market value for his contribution to that revenue? Why should he have to accept less than market value because others deem doing so reasonable? Why should his employer be allowed to pay him less than market value?

In my opinion, Adam Sandler is a man of minimal talents and his movies are awful. But if he makes movies (or at least used to) that generate a ton of revenue, why wouldn't he be deserving of his fair share, even if it's $20M? Yes, that's WAY more than a doctor or a teacher or a policeman. But that's the entertainment business. And that's the business Pujols is in.

Spifficus - Tuesday, December 13 2011 @ 08:34 PM EST (#248648) #
Rational thinking has no place in a conversation of the pay scale of professional athletes, Chuck.
ogator - Tuesday, December 13 2011 @ 08:37 PM EST (#248649) #
  I hate internet catfights and I hope I'm not starting one, but I did say, "all things in perspective".  Yes, from the perspective of the world of Major League baseball, Albert Pujols has a value of more than 100 million.  Yes Adam Sandler is also paid too much.  But can't we take a step back from the world of entertainment and baseball for just one minute and think about the idea that a man and his wife were insulted , not that they didn't think the offer was fair, mind you, but that they were insulted by the fact that they were offered one hundred million dollars?  Am I the only person who finds the idea that 100 million dollars is an insult to be beyond absurd?  Where does it end?  I love watching baseball and Albert Pujols is very talented and maybe his presence generates revenue for his team.  Albert Pujols didn't create this system and he is doing the same thing as many others in his position i.e. getting the most money he can under that system but how many pairs of pants can a man wear? How many cars can he drive?  Would he really have had to do without if he had to scrape by on the insult of a hundred miilion dollars?  OK lets get back to debating whether Yu Darvish is worth 100 million.  Everything is relative--fairness is relative, greed is relative, pride is relative, madness, too, is simply relative.
Spifficus - Tuesday, December 13 2011 @ 09:10 PM EST (#248651) #
But if it's not relative to the market value of ballplayers in a $7B industry, it's not in perspective. These are generally hyper-competitive and proud individuals. One of the many drivers of salary its symbolic status of measuring how much a team desires them, and how it compares to other players. I still remember when Rickey Henderson wanted to get his contract renegotiated with Oakland. His perspective wasn't about wanting more money for money's sake, it was what the money represented; "Rickey's the best, so Rickey should get paid the best." Well, Pujols is pretty great, so why shouldn't he receive a pretty great offer from a team that claims publicly to want him, and publicly states that he's a franchise player?
Chuck - Tuesday, December 13 2011 @ 10:02 PM EST (#248652) #

Yes Adam Sandler is also paid too much. 

I actually argued the opposite. Adam Sandler is not paid too much specifically because of the revenue his involvement in his movies generates (or, as I said, used to generate -- I think his ship has pretty much sailed). Would someone else in Chuck's perfect universe be the one hauling in Sandler's paycheques, someone I deem more deserving? Absolutely. But I live in the real world and concede what sells and what doesn't. If Sandler generates revenue, pay the man.

how many pairs of pants can a man wear? How many cars can he drive? 

Does this same line of questioning not also apply to the owners, who happen to be a great deal richer than Albert Pujols? You would rather that Albert curb his greed so that his employer could keep more of the team's revenue? Why is the employee the only being painted with the greed brush?

John Northey - Tuesday, December 13 2011 @ 10:41 PM EST (#248658) #
Sandler still brings them in. Jack and Jill by all accounts is a horrid movie. Yet it has brought in $69 million so far and should easily reach the $80 million range. Without Sandler it would've been lucky to make $10-20 mil I suspect. Mix in his fanbase that'll buy DVD's and you can add quite a bit more.

Scary eh? I enjoy a lot of Sandler's movies (50 First Dates always a favourite) but I had 0 interest in this one.

I am glad no one has said (yet) that guys like Pujols are the reason tickets are so expensive. If that was the case then you'd be assuming owners sell tickets for less than they think they can get and I don't believe for one second that Rogers isn't squeezing every penny they can out of Blue Jay fans. You sign guys like Pujols to $25 mil a year deals because you think they will bring in more than that in revenue (be it playoffs or increased interest in the team) not because the owner is a nice guy. For a good example try to buy a college football ticket in the states and remember that the players are not paid a salary, just a free education and that is worth, at most, $100k a year which is quite a bit less than pro athletes make.
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