April 04, 2012

What's up for #AlbertPujols, aka #ElHombre, in 2012?

With Albert Pujols moving to the American League, presumably bouncing back from nagging injuries (and early-season "pressing" last year — he did, even if he denies it), in more of a hitters park than Busch, with plenty of games in Arlington and other big hitters' parks — AND with a big chip on his shoulder — what's up  for him on the personal (and team) side, this year?

The personal? I expect Phat Albert to bop .320, with 45 HRs, slugging back above .600 and OPS back over 1.000. At least 120 runs and 120 RBIs. You heard it here.

On the professional side? Angels win AL; take the West in the regular season and win the ALCS. Repeat 2002 WS all the way down to an Angels' win, with Pujols making Cards' hearts weep and out-Bondsing Barry Bonds in the Bay.

Yes, that last part is a bit Hollywoodish. But, certainly possible. And, I do believe Pujols will do at least what I predicted. Especially with a big chip on his shoulder.

There's a number of good takeaways in the article. The obvious one is that the Cards figured there'd be no big buyers market for Pujols, and were wrong.

For better or worse, or both, Pujols did have a tight relationship with Tony La Russa, showed in part by Albert saying TLR could deliver his wrong, and nothing more special was needed (as if the Cards were planning special delivery). TLR responds with this quote:
"I feel the Cardinals made a decision that they couldn't afford him," La Russa says. "It'd probably be better if they made that public. They were just hoping the market wouldn't be there and they could afford him. He offered St. Louis a sizable hometown discount, but people paint him like he was a bad guy for leaving. That's not right. 

"I'm a huge fan of Albert's. Albert deserves to be truly honored for what he's done for the Cardinals organization. What distinguishes Albert from everyone is his commitment to winning. He plays the game to win. He did that every day in St. Louis. He'll do that for the Angels." 
Albert himself says he's received a lot of hate mail. I know most my St. Louis kin are at least somewhat that way, as to thinking who's at fault. Well, folks, family included ... you have to look at Bill DeWitt and John Mozeliak, too. The Reds gave Joey Votto a "near-Pujols" contract, after all. Yes, Votto is younger, but the Reds are a smaller market than the Cards. And the Cards never offered a post-career personal services contract or anything else to Pujols.

Unfortunately, Cards' fans, including my family, will just blame Albert, not the team. Wrong answer, folks. Ever since Ryan Howard got his new contract more than two years ago, Cards' management knew what they were facing. That said, contra TLR, they're not going to fess up in public.

And, Jim Caple and one other person at ESPN agree with me that Pujols will not only take the Angles to the World Series, but to a win over the Giants. (Four or five other staffers predict the Haloes to win over the Phillies or ... the Cardinals). Not sure about three ESPNers picking the Cards to make it, and two to win it, but ....  

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