Albert Pujols: Injury Will Factor into St Louis Cardinals Contract Decision

Daniel MorrillCorrespondent IJune 20, 2011

Albert Pujols fractured his forearm Sunday against the Royals.
Albert Pujols fractured his forearm Sunday against the Royals.Jeff Curry/Getty Images

Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols will miss four to six weeks after fracturing his forearm during a collision in Sunday’s win over the Royals.

These next four to six weeks will give the Cardinals an idea of what could be their future: life without Albert.

Pujols has missed five games over the last two seasons and has averaged 153 games played per season since he broke into MLB in 2001.

St. Louis has no idea how losing Pujols will affect the current lineup and offensive production.

How the Cardinals perform while Pujols is out will likely play a large role in determining how much money the team will offer the three-time MVP when his contract comes up at the end of this season.

The Cardinals will have some important questions answered for them over the next four to six weeks. The main one is whether or not Matt Holliday can shoulder the offensive load without Pujols in front of him.

If he can, the Cardinals might consider using the money that they would have given to Pujols to address needs at shortstop, in the outfield and in the bullpen.

Jose Reyes will be a name thrown around as a candidate to take a chunk of Pujols’ money, while providing a different kind of spark to the offense than Pujols did.

St. Louis will also get to see how Colby Rasmus performs without Pujols protecting him.

Rasmus could be the three-hitter of the future for the Cardinals, but if he struggles over the upcoming weeks, the team might look to fill the spot with someone else should they fail to sign Pujols.

The next four to six weeks could therefore decide whether or not Pujols will be back in St. Louis next year.

If the Cardinals' offense struggles, they might be more willing to give Pujols more money this offseason.  If not, Pujols might wear another color for the first time in his career.