MLB Free Agents 2012: 5 Reasons Chicago Cubs Should Not Sign Albert Pujols
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Albert Pujols and the Chicago Cubs have been linked since spring training as a destination for the first baseman in free agency. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Theo Epstein has extended an offer to the former St. Louis Cardinals slugger.
With the thought of Pujols mashing home runs at the Friendly Confines for the home team clouding fans' thoughts, it would be a move that could turn into Epstein's "Soriano Deal" for the franchise, putting the squad right back where it started—in a hole.
Here's five reasons it's a huge mistake to sign Albert Pujols.
Does Anyone Know Pujols' Real Age?
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Albert Pujols' age is stated as 31 according to baseball-reference.com, but a couple weeks ago, SB Nation posed an interesting question: What if he's really a couple years older than everyone thinks he is?
Scouts and executives passed on Pujols, who by every indication was a man amongst boys in high school, for 12 rounds. Superstars have been missed before in amateur scouting, but avoiding a player of Pujols' build leaves some mystery as to why he wasn't taken earlier.
Even if Albert Pujols is only two years older than advertised, then he's 33, the age where hitters begin to experience a decline in production, and totally negates the reasoning behind a long-term deal for Pujols.
Standard Statistics Have Declined Since 2008
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Albert Pujols had the best year of his career in 2008—.357/.462/.563 in 148 games—and won the MVP. Pujols also won the MVP in 2009, and although his slash number declined, he made up for it with increases in power numbers (47 HR, 135 RBI in 2009).
Since those MVP seasons, however, his average has dropped, declining to under .300 for the first time in his career. His slugging percentage is down nearly 100 points since 2009, along with his OPS.
It could be an anomaly, but it's starting to look like a trend, a trend that may continue downward.
Advanced Statistics Have Declined Since 2008
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As fans, we live in a great time where we can look at all these statistics and identify trends of our favorite players.
On the other hand, sometimes it's too much information and can hurt the players looking for big deals. Pujols may be a casualty of the advanced statistic movement.
Using FanGraphs, you can see a change in his plate discipline in 2011, which is a cautionary statistic that most executives take a look at. Hence the fact there are only a couple players in the Pujols sweepstakes.
If the Deal Is More Than Five Years
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With reports of Chicago offering Pujols an offer, one can only hope it's not the same as the Miami Marlins' deal, which according to Jon Heyman, is a 10-year deal.
Ten years is too long for any contract, especially for Pujols who would be 41 at the end of the deal. The Cubs are no Yankees, and couldn't hide a contract of that size and still be relevant. For past history, please refer to Soriano, Zambrano and Ramirez' past contracts to see what declining play can do to a club with massive contracts.
If the Contract Isn't Front-Loaded
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If the Chicago Cubs do indeed offer Albert Pujols a deal over five years, they must take a page out of the Yankees' playbook, and front-load the contract so it doesn't restrict payroll in the future.
A good example would be Alex Rodriguez' deal, which, according to Cot's, will be $30 million this season, and at the conclusion of the deal in 2017 be $21 million. Nine million is a lot of cap room, and if the Cubs do it equally across the board, then that's a huge mistake.