SocraticGadfly: Prince Albert ain't necessarily Saint Albert

January 19, 2011

Prince Albert ain't necessarily Saint Albert

Bernie Miklasz, the best columnist at the P-D sports desk, has an overall good, but still too management-friendly, update on Albert Pujols contract talks with St. Louis Cardinals management.

The "too friendly to management" part? Bernie tells Pujols "forget your deadlines."
If Pujols and agent Dan Lozano are serious about following through with this stance, if they remain rigid in enforcing it, then it makes them look unreasonable.

Even if part of the deadline issue is Pujols trying to manage PR, nonetheless, it's nothing new from him this year.

At the same time, Bernie does nail Pujols and agent Dan Lozano:
Pujols and Lozano must think everyone is naïve.

Here's what they don't want to tell you: By enforcing this spring-training deadline, Pujols and Lozano conveniently get an advance opportunity to market Pujols' free-agent campaign.

If the Cardinals don't have an agreement in place by spring training, interested teams will be getting their finances ready in preparation of courting Pujols.

And, so, I'm guessing he's less sanguine than other P-D writers on the chance of a deal getting done.

And, all you Cards fans who want to make Prince Albert into Saint Albert?

Bernie's right there, too. He isn't.

He may be a great guy; he may have a Christian aura that translates into a moral life. But, he's not a saint. He's a superstar playing hardball on a new contract.

That said, Bernie was equal-opportunity, chastising owner Bill DeWitt and GM John Mozeliak for wasting the previous two offseasons, or at least the previous one, after Ryan Howard got his new Phillies contract.

And, he also notes that Billy D. and Big John have lacked negotiating savvy in the recent past:
(W)e certainly have to point out that DeWitt and Mozeliak added to the market inflation by signing outfielder Matt Holliday to a seven-year deal worth $120 million last offseason, absent long-term offers to Holliday from other teams.

Bernies also points out that, in DeWitt's case, it runs in the family blood or DNA:
In Cincinnati, DeWitt's father, Bill Sr., attained baseball infamy by being the executive who traded Frank Robinson to Baltimore. In his first season (1966) with the Orioles, Robinson won the Triple Crown. And the Orioles won the World Series.

Back to your chastisement of Pujols, though, Bernie.
But if Pujols and Lozano are absolute in sticking with this spring-training deadline, they aren't being fair. They're needlessly drawing a line.

How long did it take the ownership-management dynamic duo to sign Holliday? Oh, about two months, if not less. So, why should Pujols retreat from his window?

You're just wrong on this.

The deal is, at least to me, Bernie, it seems clear that despite Pujols disavowals, Billy D. and Big John are still banking on a "hometown discount."

Pujols has said the deadline is for the good of the team.

Bernie notes the distraction is going to be around, anyway, and he's probably right. But, why blame Pujols for that? Again, this gets back to two wasted offseasons by m management. And, if the desire is really to eliminate distraction, then, that too ultimately falls at management's feet.

That's because DeWitt and Mozeliak have sat on their butts the past two years. And what Bernie fails to address.

It's nut-cutting time. Pure and simple.

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