It’s no secret that the Yankees took their place in ‘all time sports blunders’ history by signing Alex Rodriguez on for an additional ten years, at the hefty price of $275 million. But the contact the Angels offered Albert Pujols is proving to be even more of a disaster than the one bestowed upon Arod.
The warning signs were there, the Angels simply chose to avoid them. The year was 2011, Albert Pujols was the hottest free agent in the sport, especially since he was coming off a World Series winning season with the St Louis Cardinals. But there was controversy with Pujols’ first tread through free agency waters.
It was widely known that Pujols was after a mega-deal, and wouldn’t settle until he got one. The black cloud of the Arod contract hangs over the league as a whole like a constant red flag for many front offices before writing up any contact, but the Angels went with their gut and gave into the big name hype and talent.
Pujols was 31-years-old with already 2 championships, 3 MVP’s under his belt and his fate in Cooperstown already sealed–so it’s only common sense to ask ‘what ultimately is his goal?’. Complacency fears alone, the biggest warning the Angels should’ve received was when Pujols’ own St Louis Cardinals made an initial offer to him of a 5-year deal, which they then took to 10-years with valued at $210 million.
Still, the Angels took the bait and gave Pujols the farm, a 10-year deal worth $254 million dollars, what’s the worse that could happen? The general consensus going in was that the Angels would eat the latter end of the mega deal to capitalize off Pujols’ present talent…seems worth it, no? In theory the deal would keep Pujols in Anaheim until 41, so essentially unless he’s a cyborg it’s safe to say the back-end of the deal would be something the Angels were just going to have to live with when the time comes.
However, what wasn’t expected was the seemingly interminable slow start to Albert’s Angels career. Adjustment takes time, especially for someone like Albert who’s only known one team and one league. The slow start jitters eventually did clear, but Pujols still finished up the season with the worst season stats of his career–.285 batting average, 30 homers, .343 on base percentage and 105 RBI as the Angels finished without even making the post season.
Flash forward to this season in 2013, Pujols has already had off season knee surgery and a very nasty bout of plantar fasciitis which he described to the LA Times as “I’m dying…It’s hurting real bad”. What’s an even more telling sign of King Albert’s demise is the fact that as the injuries pile on the Angels are more and more at risk of having a $254 million DH instead of an All Star 1st baseman and slugger. That would be a catastrophic fail.
As the Angels are set to play the Cardinals for inter-league play this will be the first time Pujols has played in St Louis since leaving. The thing that remains all too clear is that the Cardinals have continued to flourish even without the 3 time MVP, while the Angels continue their tailspin in the AL West.
What we are baring witness to is the inevitable decline of an awesome talent, due to age and wear and tear. Sounds simple, but then leads one to think why the Angels would take on such a risky deal knowing too well Father Time is always unbeaten. I guess one would have to blame the Yankees…
Ah yes, the Yankees, one can’t talk giant contracts without pointing the finger at Steinbrenner and his legacy of starting the free agency fiasco and ‘mega deals’. The focus of this article is to highlight just why the Arod contract–while a disaster, compared to the Pujols deal is actually vaguely understandable.
Firstly, Alex Rodriguez had his career bests while on the Yankees. Let me stress that last part ‘while on the Yankees’. The Angels pretty much rewarded Pujols for accomplishments he had for another team. The Yankees acquired Rodriguez in 2004 with the Texas Rangers footing $67 million of the $179 million left on his contract. From his introduction as a Yankee in 2004 up until his opt-out in 2007 Alex Rodriguez had strung together resume which boasted 2 MVPs and the only hurdle for him being to overcome his paltry post season numbers.
The Yankees thew money at the Arod situation to keep him, but what separates the Yankees approach from the Angels with Pujols is the fact the Alex Rodriguez was the best player in the league–if not the sport, at the time. The Angels overpaid for a declining Pujols, who had never played in the American League and came in injury prone. The Yankees overpaid for a player who was at the top of the sport, in peak condition and had already played in New York for 3 seasons.
It’s easy now to sit and wonder what the Yankees thought when giving Arod the contract but at the time the Yankees took an educated gamble, which they knew would bite them. The Angels as of now don’t have the luxury of saying they’ve gotten even close to what they expected from Pujols, who, if his injuries keep coming back will be retired by the time his contract is up.
Of course a large part of why the Rodriguez contract gets lampooned so often is because of Arod’s off the field antics and the fact he’s not likable. From the steroids drama, to the constant hostility between he and the Yankees the news is never good these days for Arod. It’s still hard though, to call any deal bad when it resulted in a championship, and Arod was the biggest part of the championship run.
These bloated mega deals rarely make sense, and seem to be more for show these days than anything else. The Albert Pujols contract, although still in its infancy is another reminder of how out-of-control some team’s have gotten as far as spending–throwing money on the issue rarely pays and the Angels seem to be learning that lesson game by game.
Without the slightest doubt when it’s all said and done the Albert Pujols contract will go down in the history books as the worst contract given in the sport.