We Got Punked!
For the last few years baseball fans were duped into believing Albert Pujols was a different kind of superstar. The tone around St. Louis was, 'Albert is a midwest guy, he's one of us,' 'He'd never hold the Cardinals hostage.' Now that Pujols and his agent are trying to negotiate the richest contract in baseball history, his true colors are being revealed.
I'm not one of those fans that uses the same tired argument that athletes are overpaid and the real heroes like teachers, firefighters, and soldiers are underpaid. As a business and economics major in a past life I quickly learned everyone has a market value based on how replaceable they are and how much money they can make other people. It's a cold, unemotional statement but it's true. Albert Pujols doesn't deserve $30 million dollars a year because he can hit a baseball. Albert Pujols deserves $30 million dollars a year because he will earn the St. Louis Cardinals and Major League Baseball infinitely more than that.
Cardinal management were probably not thrilled when they read the Phillies had inked Ryan Howard to a five year $125 million dollar deal. Howard is a home run and rbi machine but has a career .279 batting average. Pujols puts up comparable home runs and rbi's but has a career .331 batting average. If .279 gets you $25 million per year what does .331 get you? I think the Cardinals were more than ready to give Albert $30 million per year, but the length of the contract is the point of the contention.
The Cardinals can certainly afford the $300 million, but are they willing to set back their franchise. Albert Pujols at 41 will not be Albert Pujols at 31. The Yankees gave Alex Rodriguez the richest contract in baseball history after his MVP season in 2007 at 10 years $275 million. By year three in 2010, $33 million got the Yankees 30 home runs, 125 rbi's and a .270 batting average. The Cardinals are financially healthy but nowhere near the Yankees stratosphere. Albert Pujols is the games best player and deserves to be paid accordingly, but we were naive to think he was a different kind of superstar. A superstar who would do anything to accommodate his hometown team and fans.