Albert Pujols: Was Game 4 His Last in Busch Stadium?

Jack ButlerContributor IIIOctober 5, 2011

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 05:  Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts in the eighth inning after Hunter Pence #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies grounds out in Game Four of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 5, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Phillies jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 4 of the NLDS, but the Cardinals were able to come from behind to win it 5-3. The series is now level, and will head back to Philadelphia for a decisive Game 5. 

The Cardinals will have their veteran ace Chris Carpenter going, but they'll still be very heavy underdogs to advance to the NLCS. If they lose Game 5, the attention in St. Louis will shift to this offseason and the impending free agency of Albert Pujols. Is it possible that today was his final game as a Cardinal at Busch Stadium?

This offseason is interesting, because two premier first baseman from the same division will be available. Prince Fielder has publicly stated that this was probably his last season in Milwaukee. Albert Pujols has said nothing like that.

The Yankees and the Red Sox are always players in free agency. The Red Sox especially may be busy because of their monumental collapse. But is there a need for a first baseman?  

The Red Sox have Adrian Gonzalez signed long term, and the Yankees are set for a while with Mark Teixeira. Is there a chance they go after someone to be a DH? I guess.  

If that's the case, Fielder would be the more likely candidate. He would be cheaper, and he is more of the prototypical designated hitter. However, despite his size, Fielder is a pretty good defensive first baseman and I think he'll stay in the National League.

I also highly doubt that Pujols would consider being a DH. He is a fantastic first baseman, and has already won two Gold Gloves. I don't see why he would go to those two AL East teams if it means playing first base part-time.

So what other options are there? There really aren't many. The Cubs? The Giants need some offense in the worst way and might try to add a big-time bat. The Dodgers are a financial mess right now. Who else?

I could be completely wrong, but I just can't see Pujols leaving the Cardinals. Maybe some surprise team will emerge, but I don't see it happening.  

St. Louis is a great baseball city, and a really unique place to play in. I think Pujols loves playing there. The Cards are always playoff contenders, and it just seems like the best situation for him.  

The days of players staying with one team for an entire career seem to be over, but if there's someone I can see doing that, it would be Albert.  

There's still baseball to be played, and Albert is a professional. I'm sure this is the last thing on his mind. He's only focused on winning Game 5 and returning to Busch Stadium in a few days for the NLCS.