With no clear indications that St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols will speak directly with the press about his contract upon his expected Thursday arrival at spring training camp, I thought it appropriate to share a subset of the first baseman’s remarks from the last two springs.
In 2009, it was not about the money. It was about having a winning team around him. By the next spring, Pujols still wanted to stay with St. Louis, but acknowledged he was not in control of the entire situation.
The following was reported by MLB.com’s Matthew Leach on February 15, 2009. Emphasis is mine.
“Do I want to be in St. Louis forever? Of course,” Pujols said. “…People from other teams want to play in St. Louis and they’re jealous that we’re in St. Louis because the fans are unbelievable. So why would you want to leave a place like St. Louis to go somewhere else and make $3 or $4 more million a year? It’s not about the money. I already got my money. It’s about winning and that’s it.”
“When that time comes, then we’re going to figure it out,” he said. “And I told you, I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not about the money all the time. It’s about being in a place to win and being in a position to win. If the Cardinals are willing to do that and put a team every year like they have, I’m going to try to work everything out to stay in this town. But if they’re not on the same page of bringing championship caliber to play every year, then it’s time for me to go somewhere else. Where? Somewhere else that I can win.”
The AP’s summary of the same spring 2009 discussion included Pujols’ appreciation of his current eight-year, $111 million contract, signed in early 2004.
“When I signed my contract I was really happy with what I got. When that time comes (for another contract) then we’re going to figure it out,” Pujols said.
Of course, during the ensuing 12 months, the Cardinals not only traded three top prospects for Matt Holliday, they re-signed the outfielder to a club-record seven-year, $120 million contract after he went into free agency. In the process, team competitiveness was apparently taken off the table.
Talking with Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch on February 27, 2010, Pujols appeared to have reduced his optimism level. While the player made it clear he wanted to remain with St. Louis, he also pointed out that he was not in total control of the situation.
“People in St. Louis and our fans around the country know where I want to be. And that’s St. Louis. There’s no city like St. Louis to play baseball. And the way the city has embraced me, and my family and our charitable foundation has been unbelievable. I am blessed. So why would I want to go anywhere else?
“I appreciate being a Cardinal. I appreciate wearing this uniform. I appreciate being part of the legacy over the last nine years and I want to continue to do that. I appreciate being around the Hall of Famers. I don’t think there’s many organizations who have that. I think we have the most (living) Hall of Famers, and they come around. You see Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Red Schoendienst all the time. They spend time with us. You appreciate talking baseball with all of those guys. So why would I want to go anywhere?
“Do I want to do this right now and take care of this so we don’t need to worry about it? Of course. If it happens, it happens. But there are some things I am able to control and there are other things that are out of my hands that I can’t control. And that’s the truth.”
Whether that final reference was to Cardinals ownership or God or both is unclear. Earlier in the process, Pujols commented his future was in God’s hands, but recent remarks have not focused on that factor.
What will Pujols say this week, if anything?
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