August 21, 2013

#Pujols weighs in on end of his season, and so do I

The Machine himself, Albert Pujols, of course had been hitting on much fewer than all eight cylinders throughout the season this year, long before he decided to accept the wisdom of the higher-ups, from GM Jerry DiPoto in the front office through manager Mike Scioscia, and not try to come back this year from his plantar fascia foot tear.

I agreed with Yahoo's Tim Brown in June that Pujols probably came back too early from his offseason knee surgery. So, contra the ESPN link above, I'm still not going to call it possibly "one of the worst contracts of all time," with a hint it might be the worst.

Here's what I said at that time:
In other words, if he could bat like his 2011 St. Louis lines, albeit with fewer HRs and more doubles, and do so through 2015, the Angels would take it. Even Prince Albert might grudgingly accept it.
I think that's still reasonable. More than that doesn't seem likely.
So, not close to worst, IF Pujols can bounce back, with a thorough offseason of rest, I still think this is possible.

Will the Angels "accept" two year of .300 BA, 100-105 runs and RBIs, 40 2B, 30-35 HRs, .540 slugging and .900 OPS, with 3 WAA? You bet they will. They'll take 3 percent slippage a year after that on the final six years of his contract, and at the end, "accept" a Pujols playing at 41 the way Alex Rodriguez did in 2011 at 35 or last year at 36.

The contract will still be an overpay, but not a catastrophic one. On the other hand, the contract is backloaded. The team only paid him $12M last year and $16M this. The rest of the contract is better than $25M a year, on average. That said, Tim Keown agrees that from owner Arte Moreno's point of view, at least, this isn't horrific.

This all said, I don't know for sure how much rushing the return from knee surgery contributed to the fascitis problem, but it's indeed possible there's some connection.

And, Pujols is honest in saying Arte Moreno and Angels fans shouldn't have expected the 2008 Pujols in 2018 or whatever anyway.
"I knew that I wouldn't hit exactly the same like I did during the first 11 seasons in St. Louis. If I could bat .340 for 20 years, I would be something from another planet. But I train really hard, and I'm sure that I'll keep on hitting.
He also noted, speaking of future years, and training, that the shutdown decision was made with those remaining eight years in mind.

There's one or two other pluses.

First, while his strikeouts outnumber his walks for the second straight year, he had been taking more pitches than he did last year.

Second, the rest will help his knee, and any nagging arm problems or other issues he has. Knowing how much he does train in the offseason, it will probably allow for some overall muscle healing.

So, if the fascitis itself heals OK, I'll stand by my expectation that the Angels will get the 2011 Pujols next year. And, take him.

It's still arguably less of an overpay than the Phils have with Ryan Howard, even if his contract is shorter. He looks older and slower than Pujols, even without any specific injury.

Meanwhile, as Miguel Cabrera racks up nagging injuries, and looks ahead toward free agency in two years, the Tigers have to figure how much of a bank they want to break for him.

My smart money says the Tigers lock him up this offseason with a 3-4 year extension, plus rewrite of the two years left on his contract, if they can.

Meanwhile, as a Cardinals fan, I still miss him. But, from a mid-market team's point of view, even one with packed attendance and great souvenir sales, the Cards were smart to pass, even without the injuries that they know happened. They simply don't have the local TV dollars the Angels do.

That said, Cards' GM John Mozeliak, I still say, didn't negotiate in good faith in the 2010 offseason. In hindsight, it's clear that, already then, he was going to sell short on Pujols, period.

Now, what if I'm wrong about Prince Albert, 2014 version?

In that case, I say, I wouldn't be surprised if the discussion over his actual age starts up again.

No comments: