In Part One, we took a look at all the NBA crazyness leading into the first day of training camps. In Part two we look at the Pujols contract and reaction. A crazy game in Pittsburgh that came down to the wire and a bum leg. And other small mini notes including breaking news regarding one of my favorite players in the NBA.
Albert Pujols is a Los Angeles (of Anaheim) Angel. In a stunning turn of events that was confirmed by multiple outlets Albert Pujols agreed to a 10 year $255 million deal to go from the St Louis Cardinals and the National League to the LA Angels and the American League. Bernie Miklasz of the St Louis Post Dispatch says save the blame game, its just a business. Bryan Burwell doesn’t believe the Cardinals did everything they could to keep the superstar a Cardinal for life. Vincent Bonsignore of the LA Daily News shows his reaction. Bill Plaschke of the LA Times says this makes the Angels relevant in LA just as much as it does in the AL. Kevin Baxter writes that Pujols’ Hispanic heritage won’t be that huge here given the low Dominican population in Southern California. However his reputation could take a hit. And Boy DOES IT EVER and from an unusual place. Joel Sherman of the NY Post asks the Angels “have we learned NOTHING from the idiocy of handing a soon to be 32 year old slugger a 10 year contract?” John Harper meanwhile says that the Yankees may be forced to react to this news if the dominoes fall the way that some suggest it will. Gil Lebreton of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram says that the Rangers insist they aren’t going to budge from their plan and business model. I agree with Steve Henson of Yahoo Sports that the real winner here was Prince Fielder who’s agent is a fella by the name of Scott Boras.
The question on everyone’s mind this morning is: IS this deal a good idea for the Angels? Just take for a second to remove the emotion of a long time Cardinal leaving the only place he knows for bigger dollars and a bigger tank. Is Albert Pujols worth 10 years $255 million (reportedly)? (for that matter is ANY player worth that much for that long?) My answer is yes. A HUGE yes. A resounding yes.
Kevin Baxter is right. There is no latino influence like he would’ve had if he had chosen to go to Miami in South Beach. Pujols decision to move to Los Angeles was purely based on dollars. It was a business decision. And it was a business decision on both sides.
For years I’ve said that Arte Moreno operated his ball club like a weird rich kid. Unsure about spending all of his money, instead he made smaller purchases to keep people believing that they were big spenders. Kind of like what the Coupon family did two winters ago when they signed Jason Bay. I guess Moreno got tired of shopping at the mall and went to Fifth Ave and swallowed up Albert Pujols and got a discount on CJ Wilson. This is a huge deal for Moreno because now was the time to strike.
The Dodgers are a financial mess and despite their bumbling problems, they will soon be on the receiving end of a huge multi-year TV deal that will make them even richer and they will get new ownership soon, one group rumored to include Magic Johnson. So now was the time to strike. Before the Dodgers got their affairs in order. It was time to get some sour Dodger fans to turn and stare at the red of the Angels while the Dodgers remained blue in the face. These are the kind of bombs you land when you are fighting a turf battle. These are the things that give you victory.
Pujols immediately gives them legitemacy. Wilson gives the Angels another arm on a team full of capable arms. The Angels move to get Vernon Wells looks dumber now considering they could’ve had an outfield of Torii Wilson, Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout the whiz kid 19 year old who will eventually be a superstar if all the scouts are right. The Angels have the kind of long term commitment from Pujols that will allow them to win a few battles in the presses and will give the Angels the ability to hold their head high when they walk in this town long run by the Dodgers.
The notion that he is a traitor OR even did anything remotely bad here needs to stop. I find it hilarious that its New York reporters who are crying foul of this deal though it makes sense. The A-Rod contract looks like it will be a stain on the Yankees for years and something they won’t be able to remove anytime soon. But there are several reasons why this deal makes sense and not only that he deserves it:
This is a guy who TOOK a hometown discount already. His last contract paid him $100 million which was hugely under-market deal. So Pujols took the hometown discount once. He wasnt, at the age of 32(?) going to take it again and I don’t blame him. Its once in a life time that a player of his talents come along and enter the free agent market and any team would’ve been right to offer him that contract. Leaving St Louis somehow makes this deal a bad one? Retiring a Cardinal would’ve made sense. Yes, they offered north of $200 million but their payroll restrictions didn’t allow the Cardinals to go further or take that extra step.
But that’s not what cost them Pujols. They never, in his mind made that extra push prior to last season to make him an offer he felt he was worthy of. If we learned anything following the Jose Reyes press conference, its that stars need to be pampered and felt like they are wanted. They are insecure and shallow and need the reassurance like little kids that they will be looked after. Pujols CAN be looked at in that light but it wouldn’t be fair. The Cardinals had an exclusive window to talk contract extension and if they said 10 years $240 million, they would’ve gotten him then. This would not be going on. I’m not mad at Pujols for taking the money. You get offered that kind of money, you would be dumb to NOT take it because this is a business and in the end you take care of yourself, family and loved ones and nobody else. Everyone else is periphery and don’t really matter. Pujols’ fans in St Louis need to know that.
I was a fan of Reyes and I know that he did the right thing. I don’t blame him for wanting out of the Mets, and their current situation, and taking the bigger contract. He did the right thing. I don’t begrudge him as a Met fan and I don’t hate the Mets for letting him leave. This was right for both parties. It was the right time. Was there a better way like trading him? Sure. But either way I don’t blame Sandy for not offering that kind of money that signed Reyes and I’m not mad at Reyes for not taking the offer.
The Wilson deal part of it makes sense because he won’t be asked to be the number one guy. That role is Jered Weaver’s. They have a four man staff that could be Phillies lite and given that Roy Oswalt is no longer there could be better than the Phillies overall. This gives them needed depth that they can augment with a very strong bullpen which they have. I like this move because they also got him on a bit of a discount if you believe the rumors that the Marlins offered him 6 years.
The Pujols deal also makes sense because he will instantly improve a lineup that scored 200 runs less than their immediate competitor the Texas Rangers. For two years the Angels have watched the Rangers go to the World Series and there’s no end in sight in Arlington, so the Angels had to wait for the right guy. What about the guy that led the team that just crushed your hearts? What about the guy who had an all-time great World Series game against them? Pujols is a major swing at the Texas Rangers who may be forced to respond.
What if the Rangers now get crazy and sign Prince Fielder to a 9 year $200 million contract? What if they post for Yu Darvish who just came on the market? Doesn’t this mean the Yankees and Red Sox have to respond in kind? The Yankees would then feel the need to trade for Gio Gonzalez or Wandy Rodriguez even. So goodbye valuable young assets and future Yankee stars, and hello immediate response to a major league arms race. Suddenly the Red Sox, would also need to make a big play. What about trading for Jon Niese AND David Wright?
All scenarios are in play. But the next few days could be intense and could lead to deals. This Pujols/Wilson play has major repercussions and I can’t wait to see it play itself out.
Thursday Night Football somehow, seems to get its share of drama to run with and boy did they get it yesterday. Ben Roethlisberger’s ankle looked like a pretzel…after snapping, and somehow he still managed to get up and throw a game winning touchdown and play a whole second half on a badly injured ankle limping his way on the field. Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette was as impressed as I was. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review says he was also awed at Ben’s stand.
I only got to watch the second half but I read on twitter about his injury and then saw it replayed. It looked gruesome. The kind that would make the average human being turn their head away or make their face have the look whenever you eat something sour. It just was insane. Then you saw him come back out. You suddenly realized the important. 7-3 ballgame. Season was on the line. Steelers had to win this game and ensure they would. Could their defense hold? Sure. But you couldn’t, if you were Ben, take that chance.
Consider that Ben plays behind a very porous offensive line that usually leaves him writing on the floor in a considerable amount of pain. Nobody would’ve faulted the Steelers for leaving Charlie Batch in for the rest of the game. But these are the moments that superstars rise and make a name for themselves. Against a division rival, Big Ben lived up to his name and forever earned my respect. For all intents and purposes he was hopping like a rabbit out there. He couldnt put any weight on that foot which was so vital to him planting and being able to drive in through his throws. His passing would be compromised. Yet somehow, someway, he threw a 79 yard TD pass to Antonio Brown who made a few guys miss with a few moves and his speed and did most of the leg work.
But it was Ben’s heart that won them this game. I believe in momentum shifts and small little things like this that may go unnoticed to the average eye that can propel a team to a Super Bowl. Yes the Ravens swept the Steelers. Yes the Steelers offensive line is an absolute mess and at times, yes, the defense has looked old. But last night was something different.
The onus on all the other players to step up their game is ten fold now. Nobody’s injury is that important that they can’t suck it up. Lamar Woodley. You hear me? No more being laid out because of a hamstring. That’s bullshit. This game could’ve galvanized this Steeler team. Now they get 10 days and for a team nursing injuries and being old and needing rest it couldn’t have come at a better time. Big Ben showed up last night and now expect a veteran ball club like the Steelers to show up for him. This victory could be even more special and can be the turning point for the Steelers. Stay tuned.
Finally, according to Adrian Woj of Yahoo sports, Brandon Roy may have to retire due to medical reasons. USA Today is reporting it as well. Sad day for Brandon. He could’ve been a game changer. This of course means that depending on his contract status, the Blazers may be in the clear if his contract was insured. Sad day.