The long overdue post-Pujols Twitter answers post
I’m officially on vacation, so any questions you have on here won’t be answered till I’m back on duty in a little over a week. But I promised this, so here it is. Most of the other questions that people had, I answered directly. But these were the ones that came up over and over again in the hours after it became known that Albert Pujols was headed to Anaheim.
* What happens at first base?
That’s Lance Berkman’s job, barring something very surprising. Allen Craig will move into right field when and if he’s ready, but that’s obviously a question mark. Which means that the Cardinals are looking at outfield help.
* What happens to the money they would have spent on Pujols?
You may not like hearing this, but there’s no guarantee they spend it all right away. The Cardinals tend not to be an emotional organization. They’re definitely freer to pursue some solutions in their areas of need — shortstop (already done, or all but done), left-handed relief, the outfield and the bench. It wouldn’t be shocking to see them stop short of spending all of that $20 million or so that would have gone to Pujols in 2011 right away, and leave the flexibility to do something during the season.
* Will the Cardinals receive Draft pick compensation? If so, how much and when?
Yes. They will receive the Angels’ first-round pick, plus a supplemental first-round, or “sandwich” pick.
* Are Jimmy Rollins and/or Rafael Furcal now in play?
Well, you know the answer to this one now. Rollins was always a long shot, though, because of the length of contract he’s seeking.
* What about Hanley Ramirez?
Well, we can put this one to bed too. But, again, wasn’t going to happen. Ramirez is not a good shortstop, and he’s getting bigger, slower, and less suited to play the position. Plus he’s coming off a very disappointing offensive year. Plus he’s owed $46 million or so over the next three years.
* Well, then, what about Carlos Beltran?
OK, now you might be on to something. Beltran, if he can play any center field, is an intriguing option. He’s represented by Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be an obstacle. While the talks were difficult, it’s my understanding that they were never really acrimonious. Plus, if there’s a good fit, it would be foolish for team or agent to let that sort of thing get in the way. Beltran is far from a certainty, but he fits a lot of the profile of what the Cardinals need: someone who can play center and right field and bat from the right side (he’s actually a switch-hitter).
* And Prince Fielder? You’re probably going to say no there, too. OK, why?
Yeah, you knew the yes/no answer here. As for the why, well, the Cardinals didn’t especially like offering as much as they did to Pujols, but he’s a franchise icon, a once-in-a-generation player. In short, their offer wasn’t just made for baseball reasons. Fielder is a terrific player, but they’d only be bidding for baseball reasons. Besides, there’s no guarantee that Fielder, who’s significantly younger than Pujols, comes any cheaper than Pujols did.
* OK, one more: Yoennis Cespedes?
No and no. I talked to someone at the Winter Meetings with a very close knowledge of the Cespedes situation, and I was told in no uncertain terms that the Cardinals are not expected to be any kind of player for the Cuban outfielder.
* What about Pujols’ Hall of Fame plaque?
This one could be interesting. It’s highly likely, extremely likely, that Pujols’ BEST years on the field happened in St. Louis. He’s unlikely to rack up the MVP awards, the All-Star game appearances, the overall numbers, over the next 10 years that he did in the previous 11. But on the other hand, he’s likely to hit all of those big round numbers — 500, 600, maybe 700 homers, 3000 hits, etc — wearing an Angels cap. So it’s difficult to know for sure. Obviously if Pujols’ decline is sharp and rapid, he’s more likely to go in as a Cardinal. If he remains a star-level player over all 10 years of his new deal, that’s less certain.
And for those of you unaware, this is the Hall of Fame’s call. It sometimes consults with the player, but the Hall makes the call.
* What does this mean for Matt Adams?
Not a lot just yet, I’d say. If they sign somebody for multiple years to play 1B or the outfield, that might change. Craig is going to play, so if they were to sign an outfielder for 3 years or something, clearly moving Craig to first base (for example), that might block Adams. But for now, Adams’ ETA was never any sooner than Sept. of 2012 anyway, and Lance Berkman is only on a one-year deal.
* Any chance of a stopgap first baseman? Casey Kotchman/Carlos Pena/etc?
Sure, there’s a chance, but it’s unlikely. If they’re only going to bring in one player, it’s much more likely to be an outfielder than a first baseman.
* When and where will Pujols talk?
This is another that of course has already been answered. But if you want to read his comments, check Angels.com for all sorts of coverage from Saturday’s news conference.
And, finally, the playlist. And, yeah, it’s themed.
Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas”
The Waitresses, “Christmas Wrapping”
Run-D.M.C., “Christmas In Hollis”
Bruce Springsteen, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
Bob Seger, “The Little Drummer Boy”