Albert Pujols, Will He Replace Big Papi In The Red Sox Lineup?

Paul BrassardContributor IFebruary 19, 2011

ST. LOUIS - AUGUST 21: Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats against the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium on August 21, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Albert Pujols to the Boston Red Sox?

You remember being a kid? 

Dreams and wishes came to you without the meddlesome burden of reality or practicality.  You could dream of being a cowboy or pirate or pretty much anything else you had seen on television that looked cool and while you were at it you could wish for the stars.

For some kids the mother of all wishes was simple yet grand, getting a brand new Pony.

There were lots of practical reasons why getting a pony really didn’t make sense.   

Honestly probably about the only thing you really knew about ponies, besides they were cool, was which end the food went into, and which end it didn’t.   But it didn’t stop you from dreaming.

So Rex Sox Nation, in the spirit of childhood exuberance, as well as spring training optimism, lets suspend reality for a moment and dare to dream the dream. 

Albert Pujols signs with the Boston Red Sox in 2012.

Signing Pujols would be MLB’s version of getting the pony.  Well, pony in the Secretariat sort of way.  And although probably just an impractical dream for Sox fans at the moment, the truth is someone is going to sign Pujols, so why not the Sox?

It’s been well documented that Boston will likely be shedding over $50 million dollars off it’s payroll following the 2011 season.  JD Drew (too fragile), Jonathan Papelbon (too expensive), and David Ortiz (too old) account for nearly $40 million dollars between just the three of them and each are likely to find themselves with new addresses in 2012.

Would he be a good fit in Boston?  Well if you don't think he is now you make it work.  You don’t have to be Bill James to crunch these numbers. 

42 HR  128 RBI  .331 AVG  426 OBP  .624 SLG  1.050 OPS. 

Those are Pujols’ yearly averages. 

For all but the smallest fraction of men who play MLB these numbers represent something they will never come remotely close to seeing on the back of their baseball card.  Even for All-Star caliber players a season like the one above would most likely represent their “career year” that magical season where everything seems to fall into place and one they’ll likely never duplicate. 

For Pujols it’s average.

In ten MLB seasons Albert Pujols has won three MVP awards.  He’s finished in the top three in MVP voting eight times.  He has never finished out of the top ten.

He’s Manny Ramirez without the petulance, but better, considerably better at this point in time. 

So why can’t it happen? 

Well kind of like that pony that Dad wouldn’t let you have there are certain requirements that need to be met before Mr. Pujols comes to graze in any Beantown pasture. 

The first problem is ponies are expensive and for the coin that John Henry would have to, ahem, pony up he could have a whole bunch of, well, just about anything. 

That type of investment in a single player, a single pair of knees, a single back, etc. is putting an awful lot of your financial eggs in one basket.  John Henry has made his fortune in finance and diversification is a financial principle as old as the Shekel.

The second problem is time.  Or timing.  Pujols is a certain Hall-of-Famer but he will be 32years old come spring training 2012.  There’s a pretty fair chance that his most productive, or at least the bulk of his most productive, days are behind him.  The numbers being thrown around by the media state Prince Albert is looking for a ten year contract. 

That particular scenario would mean a contract that would include five full seasons  from age 37 on. 

Theo Epstein has been almost Belichickian as far as his discipline when it comes to re-signing older veterans.  The numbers in the media may not be correct and my guess is they would have to be wrong if Epstein were to even consider entering the Pujols sweepstakes.

So where will Pujols go?  Here’s how I’m handicapping it:

The FavoriteSt. Louis.  Call me old school but there’s something good about a player finishing up his hall of fame career right where he started it.  They may have to mortgage off a good portion of the Gateway Arch to get it done but St. Louis is a great baseball city and I think it would be good for the game if he stays put.

The Contenders.  Boston, New York (AL), Chicago (NL).  I won’t waste time talking about the case for the Sox.  Let me just say that if he ends up in Wrigley field he may put up numbers like something you would see in a video game.  Chicago needs a big man on campus and Pujols would grow old gracefully in a park that would hide any drop-off in performance.  As for the Yankees do you really think they will be able to stay out of a high profile bidding war?

In the Hunt.  Los Angeles (NL), New York (NL).  Two big-market teams with ugly ownership situations.  Each franchise will be in dire need of a feel good story and bringing in the best hitter in baseball may go a long ways towards mending fences with their fan base. 

The Darkhorse.  Washington.  Pujols, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth sounds pretty exciting doesn’t it?  Don’t know how they’ll pay for it but after all it’s Washington so just spend it now, and pay for it later.