Trading Albert Pujols: Part I
Is this an absurd idea, or something quite plausible? Who knows really. As writers, we can only speculate and give our opinions on the matters we write about, unless they have happened (like a trade or signing) or will happen (like LeBron James signing in Miami).
For the idea of trading Albert Pujols, we can only speculate.
I have written about this subject some time ago and even titled it as I opened this article, but after reading the article I wrote I felt like it didn't do this subject justice.
Do this subject justice, I felt the need to throw out the old one completely and re-write it. Go a different route and break it up into three parts.
Part I, the article you are currently reading, is the theory to the idea.
Part II is the article that you will hopefully read next. It is the possible suitors for Pujols and what type of packages each team could give up.
Part III is the mystery article. I sat here in my computer chair for 10 minutes, watching The Godfather Part II to try and think about what it could be about. Then, while watching the Godfather, I realized that Part III came out years after Part II and they didn't know what it could be about.
And it hit me as I wrote this last paragraph. The Godfather Part III is about passing the torch from Michael to Sonny's son. Part III of this series will be about the replacement of Pujols at first base and the ramifications of that decision.
With all of that out of the way, let's move forward.
Pujols is a legend already. There is no one better in today's game than Pujols.
He walks. He strikes out at a low rate. He hits home runs and drives in runs. He scores a lot of runs. He hits for a high average. He his a gold glove defender.
There is no one today's game that can match all of that, and I mean all of that. No one. Pujols is in a league of his own.
Even considering trading Pujols could get John Mozeliak chased out of St. Louis like the Mormons.
The fact of the matter is, though, that the idea holds water.
Pujols is in line to make $16 million next season, and is making that same amount this season (with some of the money deferred). He will be making more than $25 million a season in his next contract.
Why not deal him?
A trade would certainly save money this season and next, while allowing for the $25 million he would make in 2012 and later to be spent on the young core of players now, such as Adam Wainwright.
Trading Pujols would overload a weaker system with high ceiling prospects. Think Mark Teixeira times two.
A trade could also loosen things in the clubhouse.
Pujols is a great person and cares deeply for his teammates and other people, especially children and the mentally handicapped, but Pujols is a part of the friction.
From what I have heard by reading articles from Post-Dispatch writers, MLB.com writers, and hearing from people who have been inside the clubhouse, Pujols makes friction. He is a part of a "clique" of players, spear-headed by the Robin (Yadier Molina) to his Batman, and isn't the definition of a bridge builder.
Sure, Pujols gets along fine with his teammates, but players like Reggie Sanders and Mark DeRosa build bridges in clubhouses. They interact well with each clique and are accepted right away by everyone.
Pujols isn't like that. He's accepted by all of the players because that's what teammates do.
But that doesn't mean they're all buddy-buddy.
Pujols interacts with his clique and does things with his clique. When he needs people for charitable events, he looks within his clique and then to the other teammates.
A perfect example of this is the Lakers game back in the spring.
Pujols and Molina went to the Lakers game when Los Angeles was in Miami to play the Heat. Pujols met Kobe Bryant and Bryant talked with Pujols' son.
Brendan Ryan and Joe Mather went to the same game. They knew Pujols and Molina were going too.
Pujols and Molina didn't know Ryan and Mather would be there. In fact, Ryan and Mather sat behind Pujols at the game (several rows back) and weren't allowed to talk to Pujols during the game.
Of course, that's more so security guards being too stupid to realize Ryan and Mather were teammates. When Pujols was informed of Ryan and Mather's presence, it was then that acknowledged them.
He didn't bring them down to sit with him or talk. He didn't go up to them.
He sent a message via the security guard that they could come back into the locker room with him to me Bryant.
Come with him. Not join him, but come with him. Not like teammates, but like peons.
Pujols is a great player, but the theory to trade him does hold its own.
With Pujols not a great clubhouse presence, and with the money saved by dealing Pujols too great not to realize, dealing Pujols should easily be recognized as plausible.
Of course, there is always the other side of the fence.
Pujols is a presence on the field and in the lineup everyday. He is a force to be reckoned with, and dealing him would not only be a significant blow to the lineup and defense, but would strengthen a rival team.
There is also the fact that the team doesn't have an obvious replacement for Pujols anymore with Brett Wallace out of the picture.
Allen Craig would be first choice for the job. Mark Hamilton's name would also be under consideration. Shifting Holliday to first base could even be considered (with Jon Jay and another outfielder platooning in left field).
The fact of the matter is that there is no obvious replacement for Pujols' defense or offense.
When you look to replace a player, you want to replace a player with someone that can put up the same or slightly less than the same offensive numbers. And their defense should be on the same level.
In the case of Pujols, no one is on that planet, at least that is in the system right now.
Weakening the lineup and the defense is a minus to trading Pujols.
Strengthening a rival is a minus to trading Pujols.
Not having an adequate replacement on hand is a minus to trading Pujols.
There is no easy answer here.
When you're dealing for a player to make a postseason push, you can always justify the trade by saying "we made the playoffs" or "we won the World Series." Watching the player(s) traded do well is hard to swallow because you know that if you hadn't triggered that deal, he would be putting up those stellar numbers for you.
But those types of trades are easily justified and easy to swallow right away.
Trading a quality player when you're in the midst of a title run for a player of better value is easy to justify and to swallow.
Dealing a good player (like a Cliff Lee) when you're out of the race is tough to do, but you know you have to do it to get any type of return to better your team for the seasons to come.
Dealing a franchise player, whether you're in the race or not, is not easily justified. You have to weigh every option. Every one's opinion on the matter.
And the conclusion you reach will either keep everything the same and make people within the organization mad.
Or you can deal the player, improve the organizational talent, but make the fans and people within the organization mad.
Either way, you'll make someone mad. This is no different.
Part II will be published within the next few days.
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