Albert Pujols: Will He Lose the Money and the Power?

Derek CrouseContributor IIIJune 21, 2011

Can The Machine be repaired?
Can The Machine be repaired?Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals’ injury bug has reached new heights. Three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols was injured on a first base collision with Wilson Betemit of the Kansas City Royals. Pujols went through a MRI and CT scan that showed he has a fracture in his wrist. Also, Pujols stated that he had some soreness in his shoulder from the collision. He currently is in a splint and so is the playoff likelihood of the Cardinals.

The NL Central race just opened up for the taking because of the loss of the superstar for four to six weeks.

That puts Pujols back in the lineup sometime in mid-August. When manager Tony La Russa was questioned about the loss of Pujols at his charity golf tournament he said, “I’m going to find a place to cry.” Cardinals’ fans are probably shedding a tear as well. The team was suffering from numerous injuries and now their best player is sitting on the DL.

Pujols was pretty cold at the beginning of the season, but was slowly warming up for the playoff push. He had 45 RBIs and 17 HRs and a .855 OPS. For other players that might have been a great year so far, but for “The Machine,” his numbers are diminishing. While fantasy baseball players are scrambling to replace their first round pick, Pujols has to wonder how the injury will effect the team this year and his free-agency status for the 2012 season.

An injury that took no time to get could cost him so much in the future.

For a player who is known for power, having a wrist injury can have a big effect on production and market value. Many other players have had these types of injuries in the past and gaining that power back is not guaranteed. For example, the rival Chicago Cubs had a player in Derrek Lee who sustained a wrist injury years ago and he never got the juice back in his swing. David Ortiz is another victim of a wrist injury who has never come back to full force. Ortiz was one of the most intimidating hitters in the American League for years.

For the best player in baseball in recent years, every one of his swings will be under a microscope when he returns.

All the sabermetrics gurus will not be able to put a figure on what Albert Pujols can do until he gets back in the lineup. If the timeline is for August, that only leaves him so many games to establish confidence in other owners that he has fully recuperated. The Cardinals are in a tough situation. They need him to play when he gets back, but it could cause a reoccurring injury. Should they just utilize him? He might be playing for another franchise next year anyways.

Everything for the Cardinals will be a gamble now.

Albert Pujols needs to come back and play. That’s the bottom line. If he wasn’t in a contract-year, he might be able to stay on the DL longer. Pitchers are going to be drooling to pitch to him when he gets back in the batter’s box. If he doesn’t show that he has the same power he had prior to the injury, it could cost him millions of dollars.

Now, instead of teams clamoring for him in the offseason, they might question giving him such a large contract. This injury could make it easier for the Cardinals to keep him. His value could drop, but it’s baseball and overblown contracts are the name of the game. How many players are out there getting big guaranteed money with injury-hampered careers?

This is a business and you don’t want to buy stock that could drop after you’ve paid top dollar for it.