Add Albert Pujols' name to the list of people who want to see the Cardinals make a significant splash on the free agent market.
Pujols has been calling the St. Louis front office on a regular basis trying to convince management to sign slugger Manny Ramirez who was most recently with the Dodgers.
The Mang says that he talks to Ramirez every three days or so and the unsigned superstar is getting antsy without a contract a little more than two weeks before pitchers and catchers are supposed to report for spring training. Pujols believes that Ramirez would take less to have a chance to play with his buddy in a town with rabid fan support.
I know what you're saying. The Cardinals don't have that kind of cash and they wouldn't spend it if they did. But the Birds are currently on the hook for about $91 while the team president said he expects a payroll of $110 million or a little more. If Ramirez would sign for $20 million, that would give the Redbirds a $111 million payroll with the flexibility to trade an outfielder and potentially save three or four million bucks.
The Cardinals are now complaining that season and single game tickets sales are sagging. How much of that $20 million would they make up if disenchanted fans suddenly had one of the best hitters in baseball thrown into the mix? I guarantee the tickets -- and the Ramirez jersies -- will make the cash registers sing.
I would go out on a limb to say that the disgruntled callers might quit railing against GM John Mozeliak and team owner Bill DeWitt Jr. if they made such a bold move. The Cardinals would reverse their current PR nightmare by turning the Redbirds from an also ran to a legitimate threat in one move.
Most agree that the Cardinals top priority is pitching. But management doesn't seem inclined to make a move on the free agent market. So sign Ramirez and trade Rick Ankiel or Skip Schumacher for a mound man.
And the quality of the pitching might be a little less important if the Cardinals were scoring runs like it was going out of style. How many more balls would the reigning NL MVP get to hit if he had a guy who was capable of hitting .340 with 40 homers behind him in the batting order?
It also wouldn't hurt to do a little something to make the franchise player happy. I suggest the Cardinals tell Pujols that they will make a run at Ramirez if he can convince Manny to take $20 million a season -- and if he will give the Cardinals a discount and sign an extension.