It appears that this whole Matt Holliday saga has mercifully come to an end.
And, while the Cardinals will probably try to scoop up a couple of complementary players on the free agent or trade market, the primary focus will finally shift to locking up the greatest player in the game beyond the year plus an option year left on his current contract.
The bottom line is that Albert Pujols can not be allowed to put on the cap and jersey of another major league club. There is no reason that should happen, and something needs to be done NOW to stop it from ever becoming a reality.
Just imagine hearing Bob Sheppard, the longtime public address announcer at The House that Ruth Built saying over the loudspeakers “Now batting for the Yankees ... The first baseman ... Stan Musial ... Number six.”
It just ain’t right. And I can’t stand the thought of seeing Pujols striding to the plate in Cubs duds like a latter day Rogers Hornsby.
Pujols should be a career Cardinal just like Stan the Man. The most emotional baseball photo I can remember in recent memory is the shot from the 2009 All-Star Game of Musial and Pujols sitting in a golf cart with Albert helping Stan the Man straighten the collar of his jacket.
It was like the passing of the torch from father to son. And the only way this can end right is if one day there is a statue of Pujols outside of the new Busch Stadium to complement the one of Baseball’s Perfect Warrior ... Baseball’s Perfect Knight.
Some will say that the Cardinals can’t tie their financial hands to an aging Pujols because what if he gets hurt or what if he suddenly declines?
You can’t think about things like that. The Cardinals’ wagon is hitched to Pujols. He is an irreplaceable part of not only the current Cardinals, but also of their legacy. He is the only player in the 46 seasons since Musial retired to challenge The Man for the title Greatest Cardinal. You have to have faith that he will fulfill his destiny.
It would have made a lot of sense on paper for the Cardinals to have accepted a proposal from the Phillies in 1956 to trade Musial for future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. The 28-year-old pitcher was coming off of his third consecutive 23-win season and sixth consecutive season of at least 20 victories. But, when Redbirds owner Gussie Busch heard about the trade talks, he made it clear that Musial wasn’t available at ANY price.
I don’t think any Cardinals fan has ever been disappointed the team kept its 35-year-old first baseman, who soon begin to fade into a part-time player, over the 28-year-old ace. It was the right thing to do beyond the statistics on a sheet of paper.
The logic for keeping Pujols isn’t just emotional. It makes financial sense, too.
There is no player in baseball who puts more fans in the seats than he does. Whatever amount the Cardinals give Pujols, he will pay for a large portion of it himself.
The Astros justified a huge contract for Roger Clemens a few years back because attendance soared every time it was his turn to pitch. Because of the extra ticket sales, they said they practically got him for free. Pujols plays every day. Not once every five games like a starting pitcher. How much more is he worth?
El Hombre said earlier in the off-season that his primary goal was to play for a team that had a commitment to be competitive. And, if Holliday is secured, it can be argued that that the Cardinals have done everything they can to make Pujols’ wishes come true.
Holliday will be in fold for at least seven years. So, it seems like the only thing left to do is get to the bargaining table and get this hammered out. Hopefully before spring training begins.
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