This is obviously not super relevant to the minor leagues of the St. Louis Cardinals which is Future Redbirds bread and butter, but we are all Cardinal fans here and I’ll be damned if I’m not getting this off my chest in the form of a blog post. We’ve previously covered how the farm system can attempt to replace Albert Pujols from two different angles here and here.
Let’s take a look at what a real distraction would be…
Pujols has repeatedly said that he does not want negotiations during the season or even Spring Training because they would be a “distraction”. Now, far be it for me to tell Mr. Pujols how to run his season and pre-season when he has consistently put up Hall of Fame numbers every season… but I’m going to do exactly that. First and foremost, Spring Training is no NFL Training Camp. There are no “two-a-days”. Pujols brings his children on the field with him. Players sign autographs for hours around the complex. Considering the casual atmosphere during workouts, we would think that Pujols would have the time to meet for a few minutes with his agent to see how the negotiations are going. Once the games start in Florida, Albert does not even play the whole game most of the time and should have the rest of the afternoon and evening off to spend some time thinking about the negotiations. Pujols will not have to be present for the negotiations as the bulk of the work will be done by his agent, Dan Lozano. It is not about the time that Pujols would have to invest in the negotiations, but possibly the time that Pujols does not want to spend thinking about it. Pujols has become the best baseball player of this generation because of his single minded focus on every at bat and every pitch making himself better.
This is obviously Albert’s personal deadline and if he feels like it will be a distraction to him, it probably would be a distraction to him. That being said, would it be more of a distraction if every single series, he was asked by Joe Strauss or the opponent’s media group about where he thinks he will sign in the offseason? If he does not sign a deal before officially reporting to Spring Training, he will have to endure a season of Lebron James level discussion and questions swirling around him about what he will do in the offseason. ESPN will send Rachel Nichols to follow the Cardinals around for the season and stand on Pujols’s lawn in St. Louis trying to figure out what his intentions will be in the offseason. Every single Cardinal player will be asked in every interview with any national outlet about what they think about Pujols’s offseason plans.
Is Pujols not aware of the potential 24/7 sports media firestorm that will burst forth from every angle if he decides to cut off negotiations? The distraction of negotiations will pale in comparison to the potential free agent distraction that will take over the Cardinals entire season.