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Pujols Countdown: 5 days

If there is any hope of trying to work out a deal with Albert Pujols before he reports to spring training, the Cardinals simply must make an initial offer within the next 24 hours.

I have been holding back my venom, to this point, because we really have no way to know 100 percent if the reports surrounding the dealings are true in part or totality. But if the Redbirds really haven't even submitted an offer to Pujols at this point, I have to seriously doubt if the club really ever had any intention to try to sign him at all.

This isn't about dollars or years. None of that even enters the picture if there has been no firm offer of a contract. You can't negotiate without back and forth. And if one side refuses to even hypothesize about a prospective contract, that doesn't seem to be bargaining in good faith to me.

My biggest hope is that Pujols, before the Cardinals abruptly cut off negotiations last year after just one meeting, said he thought a deal could be worked out in 48 hours if the sides were serious. I just hope he was right... And that the way the team has handled things to this point hasn't turned him off completely.

I feel like I am rooting for a ghost at this point.

There is no REAL information out there. Only speculation. It leaves open a tiny window of hope that -- somehow -- the Cardinals have been making an honest effort all along and that they're nearing a deal while national writers and local ones alike haven't been able to crack their cone of negotiating silence.

The Birds have been pretty good in the past about clamping down on leakers. So anything is possible. But I can't believe, if the team was really trying to get a deal done and if it had made an offer, that there wouldn't be some kind of resolution at this point. It could be a contract or an announcement that a deal couldn't be struck. But something likely would have happened by this point.

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