While it still hurts me on a personal level that Albert Pujols left the Cardinals via free agency, I have to admit that I am feeling a little bit better about the situation thanks to the players who have remained in St, Louis.
To a man, players who I have heard do interviews on the radio, have basically said that they don't think the team would miss a beat. Adam Wainwright, who was on ESPN radio yesterday, said pretty plainly that he thinks the Redbirds are at least as good of a team as they were last year -- when they won the World Series -- with Carlos Beltran in the mix instead of Pujols,
I will be very curious to see how the younger players and the second tier guys perform without Pujols' crabby presence in the clubhouse. It's pretty undeniable that, while Albert was respected, he wasn't particularly well-liked at all.
I said before that I think there was likely some resentment of Pujols when Lance Berkman and Chris Carpenter took less money to try to keep the band together -- and Pujols wouldn't dream of doing such a thing. Ironic, isn't it, when Pujols was miffed at Edgar Renteria for doing the same thing when he left St. Louis for the Red Sox after the 2004 World Series.
The Cardinals will certainly miss a .328 hitter who averages 37 homers in he middle of their line-up. But, hopefully, the offense will be more balanced and we won't have the runners at the top of the order standing around like statues because Pujols doesn't want first base to be open. Also, it would be nice if the weight of driving in runs was spread more equally without the guy behind Albert always being on the spot when Pujols gets intentionally walked.
Plus, all the Redbirds can do is hit into less double plays in 2012 than they did the year before.