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How does Cubs collapse factor into Pujols derby?

A lot of people these days are wondering how Albert Pujols' mid .260s batting average will factor into his eventual free agency.

But I like to think about how the Cubs' ineptitude will affect it.

Chicago fans have delighted in speculation that the feared St. Louis slugger will defect to the North Side when the Wee Bears' owners open the bank vaults in November or December. But did they miss the part where Pujols mentioned his number one priority was to play in a place where he had a chance to win every year?

The Cubs need to stop thinking about Pujols and to start thanking their lucky stars that the Astros exist. The Houston club is the only thing that's keeping the Wee Bears out of last place in the six-team National League Central division. Chicago is 21-26, seven games back of Pujols and the Redbirds -- and half a game behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.

While a lot of things can change over the course of a long season, I think it probably gives Pujols more pause to look at the Cubs' plethora of problems than Chicago has concerns about his month-long homerless streak.

While he has played third base this season in addition to his customary spot at first, as far as I can tell, Pujols has no intentions of pitching three times a week. So his addition won't do much to address Chicago's tattered rotation.

Strange things can happen when billionaires start throwing money around. But it looks more and more every day like the most logical place for Albert Pujols to play in 2012 is St. Louis