Albert Pujols: Los Angeles Angels Have Turned into the Evil Empire
The Los Angeles Angels have turned into the New York Yankees after trying to depend on their farm system to return to Major League Baseball's greatest stage since winning the 2002 World Series over the San Francisco Giants.
For years, the franchise has communicated to its fans that free agency wasn't the answer, failing to trade promising players like Dallas McPherson and Brandon Wood, but that's all changed with Thursday's moves to acquire first baseman Albert Pujols and starting pitcher C.J. Wilson.
Owner Arte Moreno's pocket book opened up this morning, giving new general manager Jerry Dipoto an endless line of credit.
Being a Southern California native and having experienced life in the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a member of the media relations department, I'm simply amazed by the 10-year deal that Pujols received.
Let's take a closer look at the deal that has baseball fans across the country abuzz.
St. Louis Cardinals Standpoint
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St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak can officially move on without worrying about Albert Pujols, but he's probably not overly concerned.
In my mind, the Cardinals never really wanted to offer a 10-year deal, especially when not having the opportunity to have a full-time designated hitter playing in the National League.
Winning this year's World Series title made things a lot easier for the front office, as the franchise will now be a spectator in watching how one of the more scrutinized contracts in MLB history plays out.
St. Louis may have lost out today, but history will likely define them as a winner down the road.
Los Angeles Angels Standpoint
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Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno has just spent an enormous amount of money on two players this morning, coming at a time when the Los Angeles Dodgers are in a state of transition.
He's taking a page out of former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's playbook, potentially overspending for veteran players that will offer diminished returns down the road.
The 65-year-old just spent more money today than when he purchased the team from The Walt Disney Company for $180 million in 2003.
Alex Rodriguez Contract
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New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez earned $32 million this year for 99 regular-season games, hitting .276 with 16 home runs and 62 RBIs.
In December 2007, Rodriguez agreed to terms on a 10-year deal worth $275 million.
Perhaps the organization is content with diminishing returns due to already capturing a World Series title during the contract, while also expecting Rodriguez to break numerous MLB records, which includes being the all-time home run leader.
The 36-year-old will also be finishing out a majority of his remaining contract as the team's designated hitter.
Texas Rangers Success
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One of the biggest factors in today's moves by the Los Angeles Angels is unquestionably the recent success of the Texas Rangers.
Rangers CEO and president Nolan Ryan has changed the culture of the franchise, directly leading to World Series appearances in back-to-back years.
Ryan may actually come out a winner during the offseason, as the franchise will not be strapped with major contracts down the road.
Mo Vaughn Experiment
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The franchise's experience with Mo Vaughn has resurfaced in the minds of Angels fans, receiving virtually nothing in return when the team signed him to an $80 million, six-year contract back in 1998.
He will be forever remembered in Southern California for falling into the first-base dugout just hours into his deal.
A lasting memory is found inside Angel Stadium in his honor, as fences were built outside each dugout due to the event.
He played just two years in Anaheim before finishing his career with the New York Mets.
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Vladimir Guerrero gave a new type of life to Angel Stadium, as the franchise never had a player that could do the things he could do on a baseball field.
I remember going to games hoping he'd throw out a player trying to extend a single into a double from the right outfield corner, or potentially nailing a runner at the plate.
He was also the only player outside of Alex Rodriguez that would consistently clear the bullpens with a mammoth home run blast inside the venue.
Albert Pujols certainly has that type of power, but he doesn't offer the type of entertainment value that Guerrero brought to the field on a daily basis.
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The Los Angeles Angels invested $250-plus million dollars today due to an injury that occurred to Kendrys Morales in May 2010.
Who knew that a walk-off home run would turn into fluke injury that would end his 2010 season abruptly and also cause him to miss the entire 2011 campaign?
Morales' ankle must be a major question mark for the franchise to make today's deal with Albert Pujols.
Los Angeles Angels Farm System
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The Los Angeles Angels always prided themselves in having one of Major League Baseball's best farm systems for years, something that actually hindered former general managers Bill Stoneman and Tony Reagins.
Former Angels infielder Brandon Wood was the most recognizable piece for years, as the team could have traded the 26-year-old for just about anybody on the market.
He never got on track at the Major League level and the Angels parted ways with the minor league slugger during the 2011 season.
Monday's transactions are a clear signal that the franchise has moved toward the direction of following the New York Yankees as a business, moving away from developing players in a similar fashion to the Minnesota Twins.
Big-market baseball in Orange County has officially arrived.
2002 World Series
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The franchise won the 2002 World Series without a star-studded roster, as many late-season contributors were brought up through the minor leagues.
Setup man Francisco Rodriguez was the main contributor during an abbreviated rookie season, appearing in just five regular-season games before becoming a star during the playoffs.
The Angels didn't win that year with anybody of Albert Pujols' stature.
It's an amazing change of philosophy from The Walt Disney Company days, who sold the team to Arte Moreno in May 2003.
Angels Fans Hate the New York Yankees
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Los Angeles Angels fans lost a bit of their identity today with the signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, as they can no longer hate the New York Yankees for buying players.
Fans can no longer cry out that the Bronx Bombers buy World Series championships when they visit Angel Stadium each year.
I've experienced this personally when wearing my Don Mattingly No. 23 jersey in pinstripes over the years.
Be careful what you wish for.
2012 Regular-Season Win Total
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Sports bettors can get involved in the sports market today at BoDog, as the sports book is offering their regular-season win total at 87.5.
There's no way that number will remain at less than 90 in a few days, especially with the starting rotation becoming even stronger with the signing of left-hander C.J. Wilson.
On the other side, the St. Louis Cardinals are currently standing at 83.5 currently.
World Series Odds
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The Los Angeles Angels sit behind just three teams in the World Series betting market, currently being offered a 12/1 at BoDog.
One of the more interesting things on the odds board is the Texas Rangers not being too far behind, sitting at 16/1 to win it all.
The St. Louis Cardinals are 18/1 to repeat as champions.
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The Angels franchise has never been expected to win a World Series—ever.
Due to Thursday's spending spree, players inside the home dugout inside Angel Stadium will feel that pressure for the first time during the 2012 season.
This group is no longer built around the Rally Monkey.
No gimmicks can overshadow the potential of coming up empty during this 10-year period.
Fans are hoping that Angel Stadium becomes "The Happiest Place on Earth"—not an amusement park just a stone's throw away.