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Hopefully, Pujols will follow in Lee's footsteps

The decision of Cliff Lee to spurn bigger money offers from the Yankees and the Rangers to sign with Philadelphia warms my baseball loving heart.

Depeding on which report you believe, Lee left somewhere between $20 million and $40 million in guaranteed money on the table to return to the Phillies.

My faith in the American Game has been shaken quite a bit in the last few years as contracts get more and more ridiculous. Middle class fans have been priced out of the game by greedy players who can't be satisfied with anything less than topping the paychecks. So, while I doubt Lee will struggle to pay his mortgage any time soon, it's good to see someone say "enough is enough" and not succomb to pressure from his agent or the players association to go play someplace he doesn't want to live because he could make a few extra million that he really doesn't need.

When you live in a middle-sized market that just so happens to have the best player in baseball on the roster, that's reason for hope.

While I think the Cardinals should recognize that Albert Pujols is the reason they have been so profitable over the last decade and give him a good contract offer, I'm hoping Pujols is reasonable in his demands. He's already made well over $100 million in salary alone for playing baseball. Who knows how much he's made in endorsements and merchandising. So, how much is enough?

If Pujols would take a contract that paid $20 million a year over eight seasons, he'd still be rich beyond the wildest dreams of most middle-sized American communities. His family would have nothing to worry about financially for life.

Or... He could make a case that he deserves about twice that much money. If Pujols really wants to surpass Alex Rodriguez as baseball's highest paid player, it's going to take about $300 million over 10 years. And the Cardinals have said publicly that they can't meet either of those parameters.

Let's hope that both sides are reasonable and something can be worked out. While I harbor no allusions that Pujols would take $20 million a year, it does make sense on a lot of levels. That would only be a $4 million a raise per year over Albert's current salary, which would give the Cardinals plenty of flexibility to put a good team on the field around him.

Pujols would permanently cement his image as the Second Coming of Stan the Man by taking a below market deal to prove to the fans that he wants nothing more than to be a Cardinal for life. Instead of being an anonymous mercenary in another town, he could rest assured that he will St. Louis' greatest living icon from the time of his retirement until he dies.

Pujols has always said that his next contract isn't all about the money. It's time for both the player and the team to put their money where their mouth is.