Money, dough, bills, green, paper, “dolla dolla bills yall”, whatever you want to call it, Ryan Howard has acquired such with his brand new five year, $125 million contract that he inked this week. Let’s just say that with this brand new deal, Mr. Howard will be able to purchase quite a few I-pads to use in his free time, Cadillacs to drive to Citizen’s Bank,
Snuggies for when he gets cold at home and a regular blanket will not suffice, or even a couple Chia Pets for… okay, I really don’t know what purpose those serve. Regardless, Ryan Howard will be making $25 million a year and deservingly so. Howard has been one of the top 5 most feared hitters in baseball for nearly five years now and is continuously improving on his batting average that many have pointed to as his downfall. With his homerun totals above 45 each of his last four seasons, the Phillies made quite a smart decision in locking up a guy who also led them in 2008 to their first World Series title since 1980.
Okay so the Phillies made the right choice, good for them, but as we have seen throughout sports in recent seasons, a contract signed by one guy is not as simple as money goes to one player and that is that. With each and every new deal made, the next contract will be based on the amount of money that the previous one dished out. Just look at rookie contracts in the NFL. Why is it that the number one overall pick is making more money than the previous one? Is it because he is better? No, the only basis is that the next guy wants to make more than the guy before him, and he does.
Everyone knows that #6 for the Phillies will be blasting homeruns at Citizens Bank Park for the next five years, but what does this mean for the guys who will sign their deals after him? Well, more than likely guys of similar talent will receive around the same dollar amount like Padres first baseman, Adrian Gonzales. Another “big bopper” who will be making his fair share of money next offseason is Prince Fielder. Fielder and Howard are similar players in their homerun totals and career batting average, only difference is that Prince is five years younger. With that being said, I would not be surprised if Fielder gets closer to $26 million a year. But there is one more first baseman that will be making quite a bit of paper in the near future. What’s his name again? El Hombre, The Machine, or more commonly known as Albert Pujols.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Ryan Howard is a great player, but Pujols is twice as good as Howard and that may be doing Mr. Pujols a disservice. Both 30 year olds are amazing players and may find themselves as Hall of Fame buddies, but let me get a few things straight. Pujols has hit more homeruns, has raked in more RBI’s, has a better lifetime batting average by over 50 points, has more walks, and has not stricken out more than 70 times since his rookie season in 2001. Ryan Howard has had no less than 180 strikeouts each of the last four seasons. Like I’ve said before, Howard is a great player and is unfairly being compared to a player that quite frankly, nobody compares to, but the fact is that Howard’s $125 million deal will be used as the bench mark for Pujols’ new contract. Realistically, the Cardinals or whoever wants to have a shot at Pujols is going to need to offer about $30 million a year, according to many around the league right now. This may not be what Cardinals management wants to hear, but at least Braves manager, Bobby Cox, is not Pujols’ agent. During the recent series in St. Louis, Cox was quoted as saying El Hombre should be paid “$50 million per year.”
This probably isn’t going to happen, but honestly John Mozeliak and the Redbirds organization needs to be prepared for anything. Pujols would probably accept a contract hovering around $30 million a year to remain in the STL but really, they should pay him whatever he wants because he is worth that, and probably much more. Players like Albert don’t come around very often, and if he continues on the pace he has set, I will argue that players like Albert never come around. Tim Kurkjian recently said on ESPN that Pujols will go down as one of the top three hitters of all-time when it is all said and done, and let me throw even more onto that. Barring a major injury or something that will prevent #5 from hitting like he can, he will go down as the greatest player of all time. No player can compare with Albert when you look at his full body of work. He hits for average, blasts homeruns, is a Gold Glover, and makes everyone around him better. Albert is only nine seasons into his career and he is already putting his dent in the record books. No one has hit more homeruns in the first nine seasons of their career, being the first in history to hit at least 30 in those first nine seasons. Pujols already ranks in the top fifteen in baseball history in three major categories: on base percentage (12th), slugging percentage (4th), and on base plus slugging percentage (OPS, 4th). Yeah, this guy is amazing.
Is it possible to imagine Pujols in another jersey than one that has Cardinals across the chest? I find it very difficult to see that, and maybe that’s just so I can go to sleep at night. I mean seriously, Big Albert in another jersey would never happen just like … umm, Brett Favre leaving Green Bay, dang that doesn’t work. Michael Jordan playing outside of Chicago, wait that doesn’t work either. Man, I’m getting nervous just thinking about it. Take out a loan, rob a bank, I don’t care what needs to happen, keep this guy in St. Louis or Cardinals management, you will forever be known as those who let the best of all-time walk out of town. Brock for Brolio, Ruth to the Yankees for a sack of cash, I enjoy laughing at these terrible sports decisions. My beloved Cardinals, if Pujols steps in the box for any other franchise during his career, the joke is on you.