According to Jon Heyman, this could be a highly lucrative winter for a couple of Cardinals sluggers ...
- The St. Louis Cardinals managed to go an almost unprecedented 4-for-4 with their acquisitions this summer, helping them to run away from their archrival Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. Their hot streak might also have raised the confidence of their front office to extreme heights.
How else to explain club owner Bill DeWitt's stated winter objective to sign both their two superstars, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. "That's the goal," DeWitt told SI.com, "to lock up both of them."
DeWitt, leader of one of baseball's best organizations, also said, "We want to make sure Albert's a long-term, lifetime Cardinal."
Pujols, who is make $16 million in 2010 under his current contract and another $16 million on a 2011 club option, is expected to seek at least a contract extension with a salary comparable to Alex Rodriguez's contract that's likely to pay him $30 million annually. Pujols' agent, Danny Lozano, didn't return a call Thursday, but it's illogical to expect Pujols to seek anything less than baseball's top salary, especially coming off perhaps his best season in a career of only excellent seasons. He's hitting .330 with 47 home runs and 129 RBIs.
Holliday, the top free agent this winter (just ahead of Jason Bay and John Lackey) who's hitting .356 since coming to St. Louis, is thought to be interested in a deal comparable to the $180 million, eight-year contract signed by Mark Teixeira last winter. DeWitt repeated their desire to re-sign Holliday, as well. "Our goal is to keep Matt Holliday, no question about that," DeWitt said.
Maybe I'm missing something here, but when you've got a player locked up for two more seasons after this one, wouldn't you want avoid negotiating with him immediately after his best season?
As for Holliday, he's got the 23rd best OPS in the major leagues. He's done his best work since moving from the American League to the National League.
One year ago, Mark Teixeira finished with the ninth-best OPS in the major leagues, and did his best work after moving from the National League to the American League.
The Holliday question is pressing, because he'll become a free agent in about six weeks. But it's important that the Cardinals keep their wits about them, and recognize that Holliday's not one of the game's two dozen best players, and shouldn't be paid like one.
Meanwhile, Pujols should be ... and is, today. He probably will be in 2012, too. But his value will never be higher than it is at this moment, and the easiest way to go broke is giving long-term contracts to players who are at their peak value. Give it a year, Bill DeWitt. Make an offer right now that slightly below Pujols' current market value. Let him reject it. A year from now, make the same offer, which will suddenly look pretty good because Pujols, great as he is, probably won't have duplicated his 2009 performance.
It's hard for an owner to keep his emotions in check, especially when considering the awful possibility of a player like Pujols wearing any other club's uniform. But Pujols is just one man. The owner needs to focus on winning, and that will mean having enough money to keep a couple of dozen other good men around Pujols.