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What does Mauer mean to Pujols?

I got a little bit excited when I heard the news that one of the game's greatest players had signed an eight-year extension with his team...

And i was more than a little bit disappointed to learn it was Joe Mauer signing with the Twins... Not Albert Pujols inking a deal with the Cardinals.

In a way, the Mauer deal made me a little bit more hopeful that something will happen between the Cardinals and Pujols. It proves a team with a smaller revenue stream than the Cardinals can afford one of baseball's elite players. It also set a good example of a player taking less to stay with the team he called home. Although the $184 million Mauer gets is absolutely obscene, he probably could have made at least $50 million more if he hit the open market and got the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets -- who could all need some younger (or better) blood behind the plate after the upcoming season.

I am still perplexed why the Cardinals don't seem to be working toward their goal of signing Pujols to an extension this off-season. He isn't going to get any cheaper the closer he gets to fre agency.

The Twins committed to a $100 million payroll when they signed Mauer to the deal, which amounts to about $23 million a season. So it makes it seem even more absurd that the Cardinals can't afford to spend more than that. Currently, they have spent about $90 million for 2010 -- including Pujols' $16 million.

I don't know if the Mauer extension helped to set the market and will grease the skids for a Pujols deal to get done. But I hope it will bring the Cardinals some inspiration.