Cheap Seats

Is Albert eyeing the exit?

There has been a lot of talk on these virtual pages about the Cardinals cheapness and what it means for the future of the franchise.

Apparently the readers who log on aren't the only ones who are watching things closely. Albert Pujols told the Associated Press Sunday that he is concerned that Team DeWitt isn't doing all it can to be competitive -- and if things don't improve he's not interested in sticking around when his contract expires.

"It's not about the money all the time," Pujols told an AP reporter Sunday in Jupiter, Fla. "It's about being in a place to win and being in a position to win.

"If the Cardinals are willing to do that and put a team (on the field) every year like they have, I'm going to try to work everything out to stay in this town." Pujols continued. "But if they're not bringing championship-caliber play every year, then it's time for me to go somewhere else that I can win."

I don't know about anybody else. But that comment made me feel decidedly ill. First, because I think of Albert Pujols walking away from the Cardinals in the middle of his career about the same way I would feel about things if Stan Musial had jumped ship. And, second, it's one thing when us outsiders think it looks like the Cardinals are going down the toilet. But it's another thing entirely when the team's best player -- who has the ear of the manager, general manager and owners -- thinks it's time to look for greener pastures.

Now that all of Pujols' cards are on the table, I guess we'll see if management ever intended to keep him in the first place. It's one thing when you let go of your supporting cast. But, even with as much money as Pujols makes, the franchise would lose more money by letting him go than it would by keeping him.

Who is the heir apparent to Pujols as the Cardinals' brightest star?