Who knows how far the Cardinals and Albert Pujols are from a contract agreement? But the news in the last 24 hours that negotiations seem to be going well is soothing to sore ears.
It seems lately that the number of pessimists about the possibility of re-signing baseball's best player has been growing faster than Pujols' hit total. But to hear that they've made it past the please and thank yous to talk turkey is a big reason for optimism in my book. Albert holds all the Cards here. He's already financially set for life. If the Cardinals weren't serious about bringing him back, he need not beg for a contract. He'll get paid somewhere in 2012. And it will likely be the richest contract in baseball history by some measure. So if things are moving forward, I believe there must be a will on both sides to get things taken care of.
Pujols has maintained that he wants to finish his career in St. Louis. Now he has a chance to prove it. Meanwhile, a relatively sleepy Cardinals off-season could become a mid winter's party with news that the best player of this generation will wear a Cardinals uniform for the rest of his prime at least.
While some naysayers can question how productive Pujols will be in the later stages of his new contract or wring their hands about the Birds' ability to surround Albert with a decent supporting cast, he is the face of the Cardinals and he is vital to the team's ability to succeed both on and off the field.
It's amazing to go back and read some of the stories from the last five seasons of Stan Musial's career. Some writers questioned Musial's abilities on the field while others questioned if he was selfish for continuing to play through his late thirties and into his early forties. But what would the Cardinals be without the legacy of Stan the Man? What if the club decided to trade him for what it could get in 1955?
Major League Baseball isn't just about winning and losing. It's about selling tickets and tee shirts and beer. And Pujols is the guy who puts people in the Busch Stadium seats and puts number 5 jerseys on their back. So let's put an end to the torture fans have been facing as they ponder life without Pujols and get this deal done.