2011 Revisited: Love Is In the Air

As noted earlier, we’re re-running some 2011 posts to mark the fifth anniversary of the last Cardinal World Championship.  In 2011, Valentine’s Day coincided with pitchers and catchers reporting, so love was rekindled!

Love Is In The Air

Today is a day of love.  That love that keeps you going.  That warms you through the winter and sustains you in the summer.  The love that is always there, continuing to grow and evolve.  You have to have it, can’t live without it.

Yes, my friends, today is Pitchers And Catchers Report Day.  I keep looking at Hallmark for the cards, but they must be buried under all these ones with hearts and cherubs.  Don’t know what those are for, but it’s not baseball.

However, not everything is flowers and candy today.  Last night it leaked out that Albert Pujols had rejected the contract offer of the Cardinals.  For me, this would have been much bigger news if it wasn’t for the fact that, apparently, this rejection happened two weeks ago.  Now, the Cards were saying that they hadn’t extended an offer at that time, but I think that’s semantics.  They probably verbally proposed something and AP’s side shot it down.  So it wasn’t a formal written offer, meaning both sides could be correct.

Bill and I talked about this last night on our new show, Gateway To Baseball Heaven.  As noted, this would be bigger news if it were more recent.  Obviously they’ve not agreed to anything, otherwise we’d be a lot happier and talking about a lot of other things.  There is still time to get something done before Wednesday, even if that’s looking less and less likely.

What I’m having problems with is the idea that the Cards don’t want to go past 7 years.  Look, I get that the Cards are afraid of overpaying a past-his-prime Albert Pujols, I really do.  Still, beyond the historical chances that you could be throwing away, the fact is we just don’t know where baseball is going to be in a few years.  Let’s say that you bell-curve the Pujols contract so that the end of it tapers off and he’s getting $22-$25 million in those years.  Do we really know what a $20 million player would look like a decade from now?

For example, here are the top 10 salaries of 2001 vs. the top 10 salaries of 2010.  What got you the 10th “best” player in 2001 (at least in relation to salaries) wouldn’t crack the top 25 in 2010.  The market continues to grow, continues to evolve.  You can’t say “he won’t be worth this” in 10 years.  He may not, probably won’t.  However, if you use the 2011 model and apply it to 2021, you may say he’ll be overpaid by 50% instead of him being actually overpaid by more like 20% because the market has grown.

I’m not sure I’m explaining that very well.  What I’m trying to say is that, for example, 3 WAR production today might be X, so if you assume AP will have that in his last year, he would be five times overpaid.  But when we get to 2021, 3 WAR might be worth 2X, so he’d only be 2.5 times overpaid.  He’s going to be overpaid, no matter, but the magnitude is less.  Again, that doesn’t factor in the bonuses of him going for any records in Cardinal red or becoming the next great Cardinal for life icon.

Tony LaRussa met with the press in Jupiter this weekend, part of his effort this year to be more media friendly.  (We’ll see how that holds up after a blown lead in the ninth.)  He is of the opinion that this is only as much of a distraction as the players want it to be.  Now, I don’t think it’ll distract Pujols at all.  You read from Joe Posnanski’s intro to the new Pujols bio (more on that Wednesday) and you can see that his focus during the season is extreme.  That said, I think the players are going to get tired of the questions in every new city.  They may try to ignore them or redirect them, but that’s still an effort.

It will be interesting to compare and contrast how this controversy is handled versus how the Mark McGwire one was handled last year.  I honestly believe that the impromptu discussion with the press that McGwire had on day one, where he was honest and stuck around until all questions were answered, went a long way in his hiring being a non-factor last year.  There weren’t nearly the steroid stories throughout the year that we expected to see.  If Albert stands up, saying this is the only time I’m going to talk about it, but does talk about it, that may help a lot.

As I noted above, though, today is the day for pitchers and catchers to be in camp.  Of course, a lot of them have been there for a week or so and you can see some great pictures and video up over at Derrick Goold’s blog and Facebook page and be sure to check out Matthew Leach’s blog as well for news out of Jupiter.

One person that isn’t in camp yet is Jim Edmonds, and the timetable for him to show up is hazy.  With the news that he is having foot trouble, it is looking more and more like the invite to Edmonds was a feel-good gesture giving him a chance to be a Cardinal again.  We’ll see if he gets to camp, but I’m thinking Jon Jay and Allen Craig are sleeping a little easier now.

Baseball is back, folks!  Don’t you love it?

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