The annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is in its second and final day on Saturday in Boston. The first session is a Baseball Analytics Panel that includes Rob Neyer, Joe Bohringer, Greg Moore, Jonah Keri, Tom Tippett and Sloan graduate and former St. Louis Cardinals Assistant General Manager John Abbamondi.
A number of individuals in attendance at the sold-out conference have been tweeting some of the talking points being made. One that caught my eye was from a past acquaintance, Andy Andres, a sabermetrics instructor at Tufts University.
“Rob Neyer suggests Cardinals are worried about Pujols’ age in negotiations…,” reported Andres.
I would have loved to been able to study Abbamondi’s reaction when Neyer said that. While Abbamondi moved on to an executive position with the San Diego Padres in December, he was certainly in the inner circle of planning for the last few years as the Cardinals developed their Pujols contract strategy.
Update: I double-checked with Andres to ensure I did not misinterpret his tweet. I did not, as he reaffirmed the speaker was definitely questioning Pujols’ reported date of birth. In fact, Neyer polled the panel members on their individual views of the first baseman’s current age.
Neyer has highlighted concern about Pujols’ age multiple times in recent years, back to at least April 2008. The following was his comment to a reader following an ESPN insider article about Miguel Tejada’s age falsification case.
“I’ve been wondering about Pujols for a long time. I’m not alone. But for whatever reasons, nobody’s been able to confirm anything one way or the other.”
What makes Saturday’s statement more notable is a further refinement of the identity of the concerned party.
In late January, during an ESPN chat, Neyer mentioned unidentified people as the ones harboring the suspicions.
“Look, I’m going to say this now and maybe never again in this space, but … There are still some reasonably intelligent people with reasonable doubts about Pujols’ age. Just for the sake of argument, if he’s actually 33 or 34 would you give him eight years? Nine years? Ten?”
Now, he is apparently saying it is the Cardinals themselves with concerns.
Of course, that could still be from a secondary source, a third party relating what the Cardinals are supposedly thinking. Even so, if true, this could put a different spin on the team’s behavior in the currently-suspended contract negotiations with their superstar.
Neyer has a long-established national reputation and one would think he would not be making these repeated comments without foundation. Only he knows his source and would not be expected to divulge it.
Yet over the last decade, which included 9/11-driven changes that caught several players with falsified ages as well as Pujols completing the process to secure his US citizenship, no one has publicly surfaced any proof of irregularities with his age.
I offered more background in a January post entitled, “Why do Pujols’ age questions persist?”
What do you think?