I gotta’ say…it must SUCK to be a Cardinals fan right now.
After dominating for the last decade (seven playoff appearances in 10 years), the Cards started the ‘10s out with a thud. And, while losing never feels good, St. Louis’ pain was heightened by being ousted by the Cincinnati Reds, a bitter rival.
Still, heading into the 2010 offseason, there was hope in St. Louis. National pundits were quick to write the Reds’ success off as a fluke, and Cardinals fans took comfort in the belief that a top-heavy roster led by Albert Pujols would bring them quickly back to the top of the mountain.
Then began the Pujols circus, a four-month negotiation disaster that got the Cardinals no closer to signing their star to a new deal (Pujols now enters the last year of his contract). As of February 23, the Pujols camp put a moratorium on contract negotiations, as the future Hall of Famer was intent upon focusing on his Spring Training preparations.
Finally, as if angst levels weren’t already at a record high in St. Louis, it was announced Friday that club ace Adam Wainwright would be shelved for the season due to injury (perhaps you heard). Wainwright will undergo Tommy John Surgery, a procedure that takes more than a year to come back from.
Indeed, these days St. Louis is a miserable place to be, and no amount of Budweiser will change that. If baseball in St. Louis was ever in need of a savior, it is now.
Now, more than ever, heads turn back to Pujols. Not only is Pujols' 2011 performance now more important than ever (though, unless he can pitch, he won’t come close to replacing the value of Wainwright), but the Cardinals organization must really be feeling the heat to get something done to keep their stud in town for the long haul.
Last week, I identified 10 things that needed to happen if the Cardinals were to trade Pujols. Now, I will outline the five things the Cardinals could (and should) do, if they are serious about re-signing their star.