#6. Albert Pujols
#7. Joe Medwick
#8. Jim Bottomley
#9. Enos Slaughter
#10. Ken Boyer
No links, no pictures, no stats, no witty anecdotes.
Falling from #3/#4 (I was still undecided) down to #6 on my list of all-time Cardinals is former 1B Albert Pujols. For those of you who have been following my list, that bumps Ozzie Smith up to #5.
Mr. Pujols was in the top 5 in most Cardinal offensive categories of all-time. And for the first 10 years of his career, he was the face of the Cardinal franchise batting 0.299 with 30+ HR and 99+ RBI in each of these seasons. Many assumed and expected that he would finish his career as a Cardinal and supplant the great Stan Musial (more about him in a later post) as the greatest Cardinal of all-time. Today, that all ended when Mr. Pujols succumbed to the almighty dollar and took his talents to SoCal to play for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a 10 year, $254 million dollar contract.
I understand that baseball is a business. I understand that the days of a player staying with one team his entire career are long gone. Yet, recently, I was given a glimmer of hope that maybe, perhaps by chance, that a brief return to days gone by had returned to St. Louis. Maybe, the Cardinals had found a throw back to yesteryear. Alas, those hopes were dashed today, and here I sit a naive fool for thinking that things could be different.
I don’t begrudge Mr. Pujols his money. If a team is foolish enough to give a near 32 year old player a guaranteed 10 year contact at those dollar amounts, then shame on them, not the player for taking it. In fact, I think the Cardinals offered too much.
My beef is that Mr. Pujols claimed he loved St. Louis, loved playing for the Cardinals and for the St. Louis fans, and wanted to finish his career as a Cardinal. I guess he loved an extra guaranteed year and around $3 million per year more.
I am sad and disappointed as what transpired – partially for the circumstances, partially at myself for thinking that things could be different.
While I am not a vindictive person and do not wish any ill will towards Mr. Pujols, I do hope he realizes very quickly what he gave up by leaving St. Louis. I hope that he sees that there is more to baseball than money and that what he gave up in St. Louis is worth a lot more then $3 million per year. And if the Angels don’t make the playoffs at all in the next 10 years, I won’t be too upset with that either.
Up next, #4 on my list.