Any general manager with a decent modicum of self-awareness will tell you that sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make.
To that end, I have to assume that St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak wakes up every day and thanks God that Albert Pujols decided to go for the understandable cash grab in Anaheim (ten years, $250 million) a couple years ago and reject the Cardinals offer with a "hometown discount" baked into it, reportedly nine years, $210 million.
Because since Pujols left St. Louis, his slide into baseball mortality has been noticeable and was kicked into a precipitous high gear over the weekend.
Friday night, Pujols left a 6-4 loss to the Oakland A's in the ninth inning when he aggravated a plantar fascia injury running out a single. As it turns out, it's going to be a long time before we see Pujols on a baseball diamond again:
Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols was put on the disabled list Sunday with a tear in his left foot that could end his season.
Manager Mike Scioscia said the star will be sidelined for "a significant amount of time."
Pujols has a partially torn plantar fascia, an injury that has bothered him most of the season. He aggravated it while running out a single in the ninth inning of Friday's 6-4 loss to Oakland.
The severity of the injury is certainly the headline, but the subtitle to the story is that this foot issue is something that Pujols has been dealing with for years now:
"This is something that, talking to Albert, has been going on for six or seven years," Scioscia said before the Angels' game against Athletics. "It's been going on for a long time and he's managed it. This is a big blow to our team right now."
All of this brings us back to the deal that Pujols signed with the Angels before the 2012 season, a ten-year deal that is slated to pay him until he's in his early 40s. Given the Angels' resources, it was a moderately irresponsible deal when it was signed, but with this injury (combined with Pujols's ho-hum first year in Anaheim, the first year of his career), it now goes beyond irresponsible and creeps into the realm of fiscally insane. Pujols had already been on a statistical decline even before he ever put on an Angels uniform, with his batting average, on-base percentage and OPS all dropping every year since 2008:
BA OBP OPS 2008 STL .357 .462 1.115 2009 STL .327 .443 1.101 2010 STL .312 .414 1.010 2011 STL .299 .366 .907 2012 LAA .285 .343 .859 2013 LAA .258 .330 .767
Here is what the Angels are on the hook for contractually over the next eight years:
Age Salary 2014 34 $23,000,000 2015 35 $24,000,000 2016 36 $25,000,000 2017 37 $26,000,000 2018 38 $27,000,000 2019 39 $28,000,000 2020 40 $29,000,000 2021 41 $30,000,000
That's eight years and $212 million remaining after this season, in case you're not good with numbers. By the way, this doesn't include a ten-year, $10 million personal services contract for Pujols after this deal expires. I'm assuming the "personal services" would be ambassador-type activities, but if backlash against Pujols is bad at the end of this deal (a strong possibility), it'd be funny to see the team make him clean toilets or fold towels as the actual "services."
By the way, Pujols's deal is not the only monetary anchor weighing the Angels down these next few years. In 2016, the Angels are already on the hook for $96.85 million in guaranteed total salaries to Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Erick Aybar.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals opened the day at 62-39 on the season, the best record in baseball.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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