By birth, I am a Missourian. My father's family goes way back in southwest Missouri; my mother's family goes way back in southeast Missouri. I was born in the middle of the state. So I think of Missouri, and particularly the southern half of the state, as my tribal homeland.
Most of my family has left southern Missouri, but I do still have an uncle there and he's been a St. Louis Cardinals fan since the 1950s. After the World Series, I sent him a congratulatory note, along with a portrait of Albert Pujols and my best wishes for Pujols's future as a Cardinal.
My uncle's response:
I would love to see Albert stay although I'm not sure it's worth mortgaging the future for one player, even if he is arguably the best player is baseball. Berkman can play first and open up right field for one of the young guns. Also, keep an eye out on a young man (Matt Adams) who played in Springfield this year and is having a good fall league experience. He hits for average and power and plays a pretty good defensive first base. Plus, $30 mil a year can fill some other holes.
This is actually the first I've heard of Matt Adams. Two years ago, he was a 23rd-round draft pick. Last spring, Baseball America didn't rank him among the Cardinals' 30 best prospects. The young man can hit, though. This season with double-A Springfield (Texas League) he posted a .300/.357/.566 line.
Granted, he probably isn't a Grade A prospect. If he were, the Cardinals probably would have bumped him to triple-A at some point last summer. But between Allen Craig and young Matt Adams, the club seems to have some options over the next few years, if Pujols's bat must be replaced.
And yes, that $30 million per season -- or $25 million, or whatever, could be be spent elsewhere.
Of course, Allen Craig and young Matt Adams might be spent elsewhere, too.
With Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday already in the fold, the re-signing of Pujols would make Craig the best fourth outfielder in some years, and probably a luxury the Cardinals could live without. Sort of like when the Indians traded Brian Giles, though if the Cardinals trade Craig they should ask for more than a lefty relief pitcher.
Adams, too. He might not be worth a great deal now, but if he repeats his performance in triple-A next year he's going to be a hot commodity. If the Cardinals spend $25 million per season on Pujols and do well when trading Craig and Adams, they'll be nicely positioned.
Better positioned than if they let Pujols walk, and just let Craig and (someday) Adams play? And spend that $25 million elsewhere?
I'm not at all sure about that. There's more than enough uncertainty in trying to project a veteran's performance through his 30s, to make any predictions hazy.
I think I'm on my uncle's side. I'll give Allen Craig an every-day job, and somehow I'll find a good home for my $240 million.
But that's easy for us to say.
According to one of Jeff Passan's sources, "I’m 100 percent certain" that Pujols is going to re-sign with the Cardinals.
That seems awfully high, 100 percent. We can't be 100 percent certain the sun will rise tomorrow. But someone with a reasonable amount of inside information could come up with a reasonable figure that's well north of 50 percent. I get that.
What's harder to figure is the percentage chance that spending $240 on one player in his 30s is actually a good idea.
Let's check back in 2020.