Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sometimes it's hard to fit Albert Pujols into your theoretical future lineups

So says Ben Nicholson-Smith in this ditty.

• Chicago Cubs – The thought of Albert Pujols in a Cubs uniform is a horrifying one for Cardinals fans, but it makes sense. First baseman Carlos Pena signed a one-year deal and the Cubs aren’t afraid of spending on free agents.

If Carlos Pena had a player option, then no way would the Cubs be interested in Pujols.

• Texas Rangers – Texas’ new ownership pursued Cliff Lee and Adrian Beltre aggressively this offseason and the Rangers don’t have an established first baseman. Imagine Pujols, Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler in the same lineup and it’s easy to understand why the Rangers might be tempted.

It's easy to understand why the Rangers might be tempted because it's Albert motherfucking Pujols. Adrian Beltre has had two monster seasons in an otherwise dreadful offensive career; he adds nothing to Pujols' value. Really neither do Hamilton, Cruz or Kinsler. Albert Pujols is instant offense. The Rangers already have a ton of offense. It's not like something magical will happen if you double up on what you're already good at.

• San Francisco Giants – Sure, the Giants just locked Aubrey Huff up for two years and have top prospect Brandon Belt nearing the majors, but Giants GM Brian Sabean would likely be tempted by Pujols as a successor to Barry Bonds as a franchise icon. Like every National League team, the Giants would likely wonder about Pujols’ ability to play defense at the end of an eight or 10-year deal.

Let's take this one piece at a time.

the Giants just locked Aubrey Huff up for two years

Was he going somewhere?

Seriously, Aubrey Huff is lucky to have a multi-year contract at the age of 34. He is a second-tier first basemen in a league of phenomenally gifted fatties. Over his 11 year career, he's posted a total WAR of 15.3. Albert Pujols is one of the greatest baseball players ever, in history. In his 10 year career, he has a total WAR of 83.8.

We're talking about eating like $6 million of a hohum contract, as a byproduct of signing an elite player to a $300 million deal. Aubrey Huff is not what complicates things here.

and have top prospect Brandon Belt nearing the majors

Brandon Belt has played one year of professional ball, and granted it was tremendous. He shot through the Giants system, and finished last season in AAA. One thing to remember is that he's in a hitter's league in the PCL. Another thing to remember is we're talking about the greatest player in the sport and $300,000,000 versus a 22-year old kid who has one season under his belt. If I'm crazy enough to pay for Pujols, I live with myself if I have to move the kid into a corner outfield role.

Like every National League team, the Giants would likely wonder about Pujols’ ability to play defense at the end of an eight or 10-year deal.

This is the silliest part thus far. Not only is Albert Pujols the single best fielder in the game right now, he's also playing the least demanding position on the field. Not only do you NOT move him to DH if you're an AL team, but you feel fine hiding him at first when he's 40 and still mashing the ball, if you're an NL team.

• Los Angeles Angels – Arguably the loser of the 2010-11 offseason, the Angels could have interest in Pujols next winter. They’ve never signed a player to a $100 million contract, partly because of an apparent reluctance to engage in bidding wars, so owner Arte Moreno could balk at Pujols’ asking price.

He's never signed a $100 million player, so there's a chance he'll balk at a $300 million player. Fascinating.

If the Angels signed Pujols, Kendry Morales could become the DH, shift to the outfield or become trade bait.

If the Angels signed Pujols, Kendry Morales could become a male escort, specializing in Nick Adenhart impersonations. Let's just do this:

Carlos Pena - .241/.351/.490
Aubrey Huff - .283/.345/.476
Kendry Morales - .284/.336/.502
Albert Pujols - .331/.426/.624

• Los Angeles Dodgers – The Dodgers signed Kevin Brown to the first nine-figure deal in baseball history 12 years ago. Could current GM Ned Colletti make history again?

No. The McCourt's divorce filings have capped all major roster upgrades. That is the answer.

James Loney is not necessarily the team’s long-term answer at first base – he could be non-tendered next winter –

Ohmygod, we have another one:

Carlos Pena - .241/.351/.490
Aubrey Huff - .283/.345/.476
Kendry Morales - .284/.336/.502
JAMES LONEY - .288/.348/.436
Albert Pujols - .331/.426/.624

James Loney is not relevant to the discussion of why Albert Pujols will not be a Dodger.

but it isn’t easy to imagine Pujols signing with the Dodgers as long as their ownership situation remains uncertain.

All you had to say.

• New York Yankees – When premium players hit free agency, the Yankees inquire. As long as Teixeira is around, the Yankees won’t be a natural fit for Pujols, and the Bronx Bombers know better than anyone that 10-year deals are risky, even for Hall of Fame-caliber players.

Teixeira is the first guy mentioned who does actually have a claim to his position. He's very great at his job. But two things remain: 1) Pujols is better, 2) it's the AL and you can DH one of them.

Really, if you want to list players who are blocking a team from acquiring Pujols, only one name comes to mind, and that's Ryan Howard. Pujols is way better, but Howard has a contract that simply can't be eaten, nor should it be. Beyond that situation, there isn't a first baseman in the NL who is irreplaceable, nor is there a DH/1B combo in the AL which is beyond adding Prince Albert.

• Boston Red Sox – It’s easy to assume that the Red Sox’ rumored extension with Adrian Gonzalez is a fait accompli, but the deal isn’t official, so Boston doesn’t have a first baseman under contract for 2012. Even if the Red Sox do sign Gonzalez, they could inquire on Pujols – they can certainly afford premium players.

DH Gonzalez. Put Albert at first. You would see your team win about five or six more games a year doing that, as opposed to keeping a Gonzalez/Ortiz tandem.

• Kansas City Royals – Pujols went to high school and college in Kansas City and the Royals have payroll to work with. But there’s a difference between having some money to spend and having enough of it to satisfy Pujols, as owner David Glass explained to the Kansas City Star this week. With Billy Butler established at first base and top prospect Eric Hosmer about to join him, the Royals have more pressing needs elsewhere.

ALBERT PUJOLS: Okay coach, I'm ready to go.
NED YOST: Oh... oh crap. Well, I wasn't really planning on you being here, Albert.
ALBERT PUJOLS: But I gave up money and the chance to play for a contending team because I wanted to relocate to the city in which I attended community college.
NED YOST: Yeah, but see, we have Billy Butler and a prospect holding down first.
ALBERT PUJOLS: Maybe you could DH me?
NED YOST: No... nothing like that, I'm afraid.

Carlos Pena - .241/.351/.490
Aubrey Huff - .283/.345/.476
Kendry Morales - .284/.336/.502
James Loney - .288/.348/.436
BILLY BUTLER - .299/.359/.457
Albert Pujols - .331/.426/.624

• Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles offered Mark Teixeira a nine-figure deal two offseasons ago and Derrek Lee is a free agent after the season, so the Orioles make some sense as a possible destination.

Carlos Pena - .241/.351/.490
Aubrey Huff - .283/.345/.476
Kendry Morales - .284/.336/.502
James Loney - .288/.348/.436
Billy Butler - .299/.359/.457
DERREK LEE - .282/.367/.498
Albert Pujols - .331/.426/.624

Lee probably has the best slash line of the guys I've listed, but if you look at the holes in his game (defense, inferior strike zone judgment, the onset of rapid aging), he's worth about a third of Pujols' value.

He is, like so many others we've discussed, irrelevant to Albert Pujols' not signing with a team.

The team can’t realistically afford a $30 million player in Andy MacPhail’s estimation, though Baltimore’s president of baseball operations didn’t completely rule out signing an exceptional player if “the perfect storm” were to occur.

You are writing an article about nothing, sir.

• Atlanta Braves – The Braves committed all of $2.65 million to major league free agents this offseason, so it’s just about impossible to imagine them spending $250 million or more on one player, especially with prospect Freddie Freeman taking over first base.

Freddie Freeman has been in the minors for four years now. This is Freddie Freeman:


We've seen him before. He is not what's standing in Albert Pujols' way. A baseball team not having $250-$300 million is what is standing in Albert Pujols' way.

• New York Mets – First baseman Ike Davis put together a respectable rookie season in 2010, but he’s no Albert Pujols.

Ike Davis - .264/.351/.440
Albert Pujols - .331/.426/.624

He is almost Albert Pujols, if you add about .060/.060/.200 to his lines.

Mets ownership faces a $1 billion lawsuit, which would likely be a major obstacle for the club, no matter how much money is coming off the books next winter.

$1 billion lawsuit?.... or .... Ike Davis? Equally compelling reasons why the Mets aren't in this market.

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