Rumor Mill: Albert... really?

December, 7, 2011
12/07/11
9:42
AM PT
It began as a tweet from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal shortly after 11 p.m. in Dallas Tuesday night. The Angels, Rosenthal said, were the "mystery" third team in on Hall of Fame-bound slugger Albert Pujols.

Soon, it became the focus of the next day's stories for both Southern California newspapers from the winter meetings. It became the buzz of the lobby and the all the lobby bars.

But the notion seemed fairly short-lived, with several prominent national baseball writers shooting it down via Twitter and other Web-based media. It was as if the Angels popped their head into the Pujols suite at the meetings and somebody caught them looking.

Does it make sense? It wouldn't seem to, but perhaps with a player of that caliber, you throw out all the conventional logic. Here are some major drawbacks to investing somewhere in the neighborhood of $220 million in one player:

• He's turning 32 in about a month. That means, even if you think Pujols' closest equivalent is Babe Ruth, you're going to have to swallow at least three bad years worth of contract (and about $66 million). Ruth began his decline (they're inevitable, sadly) at age 38, in 1933. If you're an Angels fan and you don't think this is legitimate, how do you explain Bobby Abreu's last season?

• He's switching leagues. That's hard, especially when you're going to the better league (though Pujols might argue with that, since he just won the World Series).

• Even in the first year, presumably when you're happiest with the acquisition, it would present problems. For one thing, it essentially neutralizes the Angels' next two most powerful hitters, Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales, neither of whom figures to have much value playing anywhere other than first base.

• Even on the business side, it wouldn't seem to be that big a deal. The Angels have drawn more than 3 million fans for nine straight seasons. Their ballpark only holds about 45,000 people, so the revenue jump from tickets sold wouldn't nearly cover the cost. It wouldn't even put a dent in it. Of course, they are still in negotiations with Fox on a new TV deal, so maybe that would help them squeeze more out of that peach.

• It ties up all of GM Jerry Dipoto's spending money in one guy, leaving the Angels short a late-inning reliever and a starter. Frankly, this seems like a minor point in this discussion, which leads us to the reason the whole thing might make some sense:

The Angels would have Albert Pujols!

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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