From the Desk of Arte Moreno
(Editor’s note: The following did not come from the desk of Arte Moreno, as that would constitute tampering. However, if you’d like to print out a copy for Albert Pujols or e-mail him the link, I’m sure Mr. Moreno would not mind.)
Dear Albert Pujols,
I know writing to you like this is a little bit outside the bounds of propriety. But since you and I will soon have some free time on our hands this winter, I wanted to give you a few things to think about as you approach free agency.
As an outsider, it looks like the Cardinals are preparing for life without you. Locking up Matt Holliday would have been a better move if they didn’t have so many high-priced pitchers. And with the kind of year Lance Berkman is having, they may have found an older, cheaper replacement for you next season.
Since the Cardinals already sell out most of their games and they can’t jack up ticket prices in a financially troubled city, they don’t really have a higher income ceiling they can feasibly reach to be able to retain your services long term.
Put simply, I’m not sure they can afford to keep you and a winning team around you. It’s going to be one or the other, and it looks like they’ve made their choice.
That’s where the Angels and I come in. We’ve got the Bobby Abreu money coming off the books, and Torii Hunter’s approaching the end of his career. We need to inject some new power and life into our lineup. And thanks to Jered Weaver’s cheap contract extension, we’ve got plenty of cash to spend. I’ll let someone else gamble on Kendry Morales, and Mark Trumbo’s happy to move to the outfield for you.
In a sense, the Angels represent a better version of the situation you’re in right now. We’ve got a younger, more agreeable manager working on a Hall of Fame career. We’ve got a strong staff of talented pitchers, and plenty of complimentary hitters to surround you in the lineup. And we both know you look good in red.
Here’s another thing to consider: Out here in the AL West, it’s just a two-horse race. There is simply no better place for you to pump up your already-impressive postseason stats. And when the time comes, you can gracefully transition and extend your career as our designated hitter.
But beyond just the on-the-field opportunities, we represent a broad, clean slate for you to write the final chapters of your baseball legacy. Unlike other major cities that are choked with sports stars, L.A. is wide open these days. Mark Teixeira could have been the face of the Angels for a decade -- instead he’s the fourth or fifth biggest name on his own team. And when you consider the number of star athletes spread across New York, he barely even factors in.
You won’t have that problem with the Angels. The day you sign with us, you’ll instantly become the new face of professional sports in L.A. You’d be hitting town at just the right time. The NBA lockout is keeping Kobe off everyone’s radar indefinitely. Who else is going to challenge you? Matt Kemp? Landon Donovan? I think not.
In fact, you’d give most Hollywood stars a run for their money. And believe me, they’d come out to see you in droves. You’ve seen the kind of star power the Lakers draw at the Staples Center. With you in the lineup every day, Angel Stadium could become the new center of the L.A. sports universe.
Let’s face it, you’re not the only one has something to gain here. The Dodgers are in a death spiral, and now is the best chance I might ever have to permanently drop the “of Anaheim” from our team name. Spanish-speaking communities across L.A. are eager to embrace a superstar like you. Just look at the massive success of the Dodgers’ “Mannywood” and “Fernandomania” campaigns. That could all be a distant memory once we kick off Pujol-apalooza! We can work on the name.
It’s really very simple: You want to be paid like the best hitter in several generations; I want to build a winning dynasty around you. You’ve been the prince of St. Louis for a while, and it’s been great. Now it’s time to find out what it’s like to be the King of L.A.
I look forward to officially opening negotiations with you in November. Stay healthy.
Jeremiah Johnson is a die-hard Cubs fan who will be thrilled if Albert Pujols signs with any team outside the NL Central. He writes for View From the Bleachers, the Cubs affiliate of the SweetSpot network.