Yadier Molina seemed like a man who learned well the lessons of Albert Pujols' free agent media circus when he arrived at Camp Cardinals to questions about his contract status.
Lesson number one: Don't say it's not all about the money.
While Pujols claimed for two seasons that he wasn't primarily motivated by the cash, Molina responded thusly when asked if he would give the Redbirds a hometown discount:
"I don't know about that. I don't know about that. Like I say — I always say this — I like the town. I like the city. At the same time, I have to think about my family ... like they worry about their team. This is business. If I get good money, I'll take it. If not, I go away."
Lesson number two: Don't publicly issue a deadline for breaking off negotiations.
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Molina told assembled reporters that his people had talked to the Cardinals over the last two weeks about a potential extension without an agreement. He said the sides aren't talking right now. But he not only left open the possibility that something could be worked out during spring training, he said he would be open to talks during the regular season, too.
It's amazing how the Cardinals won the public relations battle against Pujols, one of the most beloved players in team history. But his cold, calculated stance seemed to alienate many of his supporters. And, nevermind that Albert's people deny that the Redbirds ever offered the $210 the media speculated. He's still perceived as being a greedy liar for abruptly accepting what turned out to be a $240 million contract from the Angels.
Unfortunately for Yadi, while the player learned a few things about public perception, the lessons of the Pujols divorce aren't lost on the team either. And he knows it.
"I have to think about my family... like they think about their team," Molina said. You could see the frustration on his face as he stood in front of his locker. And the fact that Yadi, a guy who shuns attention, felt compelled to address the situation at all speaks volumes about his bitterness.
Molina is obviously bitter about how things went down between his team and his buddy. So, while St. Louis GM John Mozeliak plays it cool and spins his non-commital statements like "our desire would be to find a way to sign (Molina)" all the paying customers have no choice but to sit and wait to see how it plays out.