I know one of the last things most “realistic” Cubs fans want to hear about right now is the possibility of Albert Pujols coming to the Cubs after the 2011 season. To be honest, one of the last things I wanted to be writing about at this time was the Albert Pujols situation. But, I recently heard something that can not go un-mentioned on this site. Not necessarily because of how smart the comment was, but because of the manner in which the statement was said.
Here in Chicago, one of the leading sports radio stations in 670 The Score. The morning show on The Score is “Mulley and Hanley.” A show that features Chicago Sun Times columnists Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley talking about the latest in Chicago Sports. For the most part, the people that call-in to the show are well informed and have intellectual comments in regards to baseball. But there is the occasional caller that really does not have a clue on what he is saying. This brings me to the point of why I’m even writing this article.
A few weeks ago a caller called into the “Mulley and Hanley” show and began his comment by saying that he is a “Cubs’ realist…” Meaning that unlike some Cubs fans who think the Cubs can trade any player for any player, this specific caller offers a realistic view when it comes to the Chicago Cubs. After his opening declaration of being a “Cubs’ realist”, the Caller followed that by saying that Albert Pujols will be a member of the Chicago Cubs in 2012. My suggestion to that caller would be to tune into another 670 The Score show, “Boers and Bernstein”, which features a weekly segment called “Who Ya Crappin?”
I will be the first to admit that when news first broke about the Cubs preparing a push for Pujols, I was already shopping for my #5 Cubs jersey with the name Pujols on the back. But as I began to think more and more about the Pujols situation, the more apparent it became that Pujols will not be with the Cubs in 2012.
The first reason is rather obvious and is the fact that the favorites usually are never the winners when it comes to player movement. Despite the fact that a team may be labeled as the leading candidate to land a specific player, said player almost never ends up on that team. Take Cliff Lee for example. Last season the New York Yankees had a trade in place to land Lee, but Lee was dealt to the Rangers instead. Before Lee could even get comfortable in Texas, speculation already began that he was destined for New York in the off-season. Then after Lee took the Rangers to the World Series, it was a “given” that Lee would either be a Ranger or Yankee come Opening Day 2011. As it turns out, Cliff Lee is in Philadelphia, and not Texas or New York.
It just goes to show all of us that the common baseball adage is true. And that is that only 10% of the rumors that are reported by the media turn out to be true. While Pujols joining the Cubs is certainly fun to talk about, it feels more like part of the 90% of the rumors that turn out to be false.
The other reason why Pujols will not be a Cubs in 2012 is because Tom Ricketts is not going to be willing to pay the price-tag for Pujols. Talk about his contract demands have died down in recent weeks, but it still seems likely that Pujols and his representatives are seeking the original 10 year, $300 million contract that was first reported.
Signing Pujols to such a deal would go against everything that Tom Ricketts wants to stride for as a baseball owner. He would like for the Cubs to be built from within their organization, with a quality nucleus of young players. While Pujols is the best player in baseball, he is not as young as I’m sure Ricketts would like their next first baseman to be. Insert Prince Fielder here, but that is whole different story.
Not to mention that despite the fact that the Cubs are constantly labeled as a big-market team, in recent years they have not acted like a big-market team. They will have a lot of money coming off the books after the season, which figures to increase the flexibility that general manager Jim Hendry has next off-season. But the money would be better spent on a variety of needs, instead of filling one need for the next several years. Even with money being made available next winter, I do not expect the Cubs to be willing to pay the current asking price for Pujols.
You can dream about Albert Pujols being a Cub all you want, in fact, that may make you sleep better. But when all is said and done and Opening Day 2012 is here, Albert Pujols will probably still be a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.