I joked a couple of days ago that the Cardinals ought to save the $5 million a year they paid Tony La Russa and give it to Albert Pujols to be player-manager.
It would certainly help to re-sign Albert to shuffle La Russa's money to him without hiking the budget.
But, while player-mangers were commonplace at one point in baseball, the game has become so specialized it's hard to imagine today. Pujols didn't want to talk about his contract during the season because it would be too distracting. How distracting would it be to try to do two jobs at once?
Rogers Hornsby, the only right-handed hitter who could rival Pujols as the Redbirds' greatest hitter, managed only one season in St. Louis, 1926. In 1925 he hit a breathtaking .403 with 39 homers and 143 batted in. But, with the wait of being the skipper on his mind, Hornsby saw his batting numbers plummet. He hit only .317 with 11 homers and 93 RBIs in 1926 as he guided the Cardinals to their first World Series championship.
In 1927 Hornsby found himself traded and back in the role of being only a player (except for a handful of games when he filled in for regular Giants manager John McGraw) and it suited him to the tune of a .361 batting average with 26 homers and 125 driven in. In 1928 Hornsby hit .387 with 21 homers and 94 driven in during 140 games.
All of the mechanics aside, I don't think Pujols aspires to be a major league manager. He doesn't care for talking to the press and he doesn't like to be second guessed. While handing the pitching staff and manipulating the lineup might be numbers one and two on the list of things for which managers are responsible, talking to the press and being criticized aren't far behind.
Pujols might like calling the shots. But he doesn't want the headaches of anything that will distract his journey to the Hall of Fame.