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Trib sports reporters think Pujols will stay in St. Louis

A poll of Tribune Co. sports reporters found that most still believe there is little chance that Albert Pujols will play for anyone besides the Cardinals in 2012.

Perhaps the most forceful of those polled was Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun who promised to wax the cars of the other writers if Pujols doesn't resign with the Cardinals.

He writes:

Stand by for months of Albert angst in St. Louis and rampant free agent speculation in each of Major League Baseball's large-market cities...and it will all be much ado about nothing.

If he isn't a Cardinal in 2012, my three well-regarded Tribune Co. colleagues, I will come over and wax your cars.

The Cardinals will keep him if they have to tie him to a chair and bring in a cult deprogrammer to turn him against his agent, but that probably won't be necessary. He knows the value of staying with one team for his entire career and the Cardinals know that he's worth almost whatever they have to pay to keep him.

Frankly, I don't even believe that Pujols and the team will honor their agreement to suspend negotiations until after the season. The compromise will be nine years for $253 million. How's that for being specific?

As much stress as this whole deal has caused me, I hope he's right. But I think Schmuck may be off a little bit on the numbers. While the Cardinals will likely have to break the $25 million mark, I would be surprised if they were willing to do so for more than eight years.

While a couple of the writers thought the Yankees and Red Sox could pose a threat, only Phil Rogers of the of the Chicago Tribune figured anyone besides the Cardinals to be the front runners to keep him.

Rodgers, who called St. Louis baseball's "fourth smallest market" said the Cardinals don't have the resources to keep Pujols. But I don't think the size of the market is the whole picture in keeping a player.

Pujols seems to have a preference to play here, which is a factor. And the Redbirds sphere of influence reaches beyond the St. Louis region. The Cardinals, formerly the southernmost and westermost team in baseball before westward expansion in the second half of last century, give the team a much deeper well of fans than the population of the St. Louis metropolitan area.

The Cardinals actually draw a significant portion of the people who attend games in St. Louis from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee and beyond.

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