Part of the problem with writing a post every day is that you aren’t going to use material by posting twice on one day. So while there were discussions this weekend about what Albert Pujols had said about playing past his contract, we’re just now getting to them. If it makes it old news, it’s fine. Nobody is reading these things anyway.
As we know, Pujols signed a 10-year deal with the Angels that began in 2012 and would be completed at the end of 2021. (No word on that personal services agreement, though I’m not sure anyone is going to hold up anything over that.) It was basically assumed that after the contract was over, Pujols would announce his retirement. After all, he’d be 41, closing in on 42 when that ’21 season concluded. Pujols not been nearly what he was when he built his legend, he’s spent a lot of time injured, and overall it felt like that would be the time to finish the story, if he even made it that far.
However, over the weekend, Pujols indicated he’d be open to playing in 2022. Which, of course, set people to dreaming, speculating, or wondering about a return to the land that made him famous.
There is one ramification that might make this a little more possible than what it would seem at first blush. Obviously, given all that’s going on, it feels like 2020 will see the DH in the National League. There’s a strong possibility that it will never leave. So if the DH is a possibility for Pujols, that gives him a few more options in St. Louis.
Does that matter, though? We’re talking about a first baseman/DH that would be 42 when he would put on the uniform again. A guy that hasn’t been a win over replacement player in three years, could be five by time this would come about. A guy that isn’t nearly what he was when he was in St. Louis. Should we just hold on to the memories and not risk tarnishing them?
I don’t know about all that. Now, we wouldn’t want Pujols to come in and plan to be a starting 1B or maybe not even the regular DH. However, even last year Pujols put up an .830 OPS against left-handed pitchers and that’s been an issue for the Cardinals over the past few years. If he’s willing to be a spot starter/bench bat, is that worth bringing him back under the Arch?
Some would say no. Some would think that young players can do as good or a better job. Maybe they could. However, there’s something to be said for experience. There’s something to be said for an aura around a guy.
There’s also something to be said for seeing Albert Pujols hit home run number 700 in a Cardinal uniform. Or maybe pass Babe Ruth with 715. Right now he’s 212 RBI away from passing Hank Aaron for the all-time mark, something that might be out of reach…but maybe not, given that he had 93 for the Angels last year. A shortened 2020 might make it too hard to get but you also know how Albert gets when he’s focused on something. He’s just 138 away from passing Ruth for second in that category, which seems much more doable. Getting those milestones–and that’s not even to mention seeing if he can climb the all-time hits list, where he currently sits 14th–would make for some great moments in the summer of 2022.
Obviously, we want to see winning baseball. However, I also want to enjoy seeing the team. A team of robots might win 100 games, but there wouldn’t be the connection to that team like there are others. The old phrase is “how can you not be romantic about baseball” and for the romance to be there, you have to have your heart in the game. Imagine a big game won by a single by Pujols coming off the bench. Imagine him playing a small role on a World Series team. Just imagine him in the red and white uniform yet again.
The cost would have to be right. The usage would have to be right. But I’m all for Pujols retiring as a Cardinal, where he belongs.