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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Miami sideshow leads to more Pujols age questions

The ongoing subject of Albert Pujols’ age continues to make the papers, still without any substantiation.

The 31-year-old free agent first baseman recently visited the Miami Marlins, the only club other than the St. Louis Cardinals yet to show public interest in signing him. Perhaps other teams are also kicking the tires, but they have not yet rolled out the red carpet.

The Marlins not only hosted Pujols, they reportedly made him a contract offer. Despite some erroneous rumor reporting of a nine-year, $225 million proposal, most reputable sources indicate the deal presented was lower than the offer the Cardinals made last spring, probably $190 million or less.

Why would the Marlins even bother to do that, while knowing their only realistic chance of getting Pujols would be to outbid his preferred destination, a return to St. Louis?

One prime possibility is that with a new stadium opening this coming spring, the club is trying desperately to stimulate fan interest in a team that has consistently drawn mediocre attendance totals despite being located in one of the country’s most populated areas.

There seems a lot of value in at least creating the vivid impression that they are seriously pursuing top players such as Pujols and free agent shortstop Jose Reyes, late of the Mets. The fact these stars are Hispanic is an added bonus.

Miami Herald writer Dan Le Batard is fawning over the Marlins’ aggressiveness. He downplays the non-competitive offer made to Pujols, instead celebrating its symbolic value to a sleepy franchise.

“It doesn’t matter if the offer is $190 million or $225 million, it is still a breathtaking move for this group, which hates long-term contracts and prefers to work the system with young, cheap talent. The Marlins, given their history and reputation, given how they’ve always preferred to do business, are actually the least likely team in the sport to offer a player that age that many years.”

Nowhere did the writer speculate the offer was under serious consideration by Pujols. In fact, he makes it very clear that the Marlins would have to dig deeper, a move he does not support.

“You won’t believe Pujols will be here until you see it? That’s fair. This management group has certainly earned your distrust… The only way for them to erase your distrust, the only way for them to actually get Pujols, is to overpay and make an even more gigantic offer that is really dumb.”

Rather than letting it sit there, Le Batard slipped this little gem into his article.

“…like a lot of teams, the Marlins believe Pujols to be older than the 31 he claims to be.”

No further explanation of who specifically believes that or why they feel that way is provided.

Let’s step back and consider this for a minute.

Say the report of the age suspicion is valid. The Marlins certainly must have believed that long before Pujols was symbolically marched through the streets of South Florida. Or are we expected to believe that they came to that conclusion just this past week by looking closely at his receding hairline or something?

It sure feels to me that the issue of Pujols’ age could have been fed to a hungry Le Batard by Marlins officials trying to spin away the negative reaction generated from their dog-and-pony show followed by non-competitive offer. A national writer, SI.com’s Jon Heyman, characterized the bid as “a lowball special designed to work only if Pujols has some incredible and unknown desire to play in Miami.”

At least Le Batard seems to admit as much, while not holding the Marlins responsible.

“Some will shrug and say that an absurd nine-year, $200 million offer is just a sham meant to look good, meant to look like they are trying, an offer just good enough to be rejected. That says more about the asinine business of baseball than it does about the Marlins, but that’s where the Marlins find themselves today…”

A sad side effect of this Miami sideshow is renewed national speculation about Pujols age, still with absolutely nothing to back it up except whispers.

Related articles: Please refer to these earlier articles about Pujols’ age questions.
March 5, 2011: “Cardinals concerned about Albert Pujols’ age?”
January 26, 2011: “Why do Pujols’ age questions persist?”

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12 Responses to “Miami sideshow leads to more Pujols age questions”

  1. Kansasbirdman says:

    Yeah, seemed to me to be an attempt to quiet any fan complaints that the “offer” was not intended to result in a Pujols signing.

    But hey, I am sure Lozano knew (or should have known) that the MM’s weren’t intending to or couldn’t make a substantial serious offer. So that’s what he gets for going down there, he should have known that the local media could spin it any way they wanted.

    It sounds like that writer was all over the place, “hey, you should be happy that our management is now making serious competitive long-term offers for substantial talent” (but isn’t it really a sham if everyone knows it won’t be accepted?) “But don’t feel bad that the offer wasn’t higher than what he has previously been offered, at least they are making offers now, and besides, there are too many issues with the player we’ve made an offer to anyway”

    When no outside knowledge is required (when all that needs to be done is simply read the text in the article) to see that a writer is full of it, that’s pretty sad.

  2. easy says:

    One of the themes that comes up in some of these “agegate” articles is that the reason that Albert wasn’t taken until the 13th round was unspoken concern about the validity of his stated age. None of these articles actually presents anything other than circumstantial reasoning or even a quote from one of the disbelieving player development heads.

    But let’s just say that it’s true that every team, including the Cardinals, backed off on drafting him for 12 rounds because of this concern. Doesn’t this make the concern itself seem ludicrous? Every team in baseball passed on one of the great players of all time because they feared he might be two years older than he said he was? They may possibly have been right about his age but absolutely wrong to have cared.

    That may be the situation that faces the Cardinals, and other teams, right now. If he is a couple of years older than stated should that affect how they deal with him? In some ways this concern is no more legitimate than the rumors that he has used HGH or other substances. The only reason these things come up, in the absence of any evidence, is because people simply just can’t believe how good he is. We are either looking at an exceptional athelete who performs at an incredible level because he is physically and mentally superior to most others in his profession or one who has lied and cheated to get there. The latter scenario seems totally counter to everything else that we do know about the man but I’ll always be willing to listen to real evidence. In it’s absence, though, I think the Cardinals and other teams would be foolish to let these issues affect their dealings with Albert.

    • RCWarrior says:

      HGH testing begins this year so I fully expect more and more players to show a serious decline as they pass 30 years of age.

      As for Albert, I’m pretty sure the cardinals know everything there is to know about him and it really matters not at this point, whether he is two years older than he says, or that he may have used HGH for years. The Cardinals need Albert and they know it, and most of the rest of the baseball world knows Albert as well.

      I have heard so many baseball people speak of Albert as being older than he is and also say that when they start testing for HGH that his body will fall apart. Now I surely don’t know if Albert is older than he says or has used illegal drugs and really could care less. The fact is Albert has been a hitting stud for many years and thats all that matters.

      But I have learned for the last few years that perception is reality, and truth has little impact on perception. TLR has taught me that for sure.

      And the perception of Albert will surely not allow for most teams to pursue him. The Cardinals know this and they are the one team that can sit back and let Albert test a free agent market that will not not have many calling him. Everybody knows that the cardinals will not let Albert walk and knows Albert doesn’t want to walk. This is all just an attempt to get a little more money out of the Cardinals by Albert. I doubt many other teams will play along.

      • Bw52 says:

        My questions are ; HGH and why has there not even been a sniff of anything connecting AP to HGH in the 11 years he has been around? Even Manny was nailed for illegal drugs and he was the poster boy for several franchises.Yet Albert has never even had a hint of illegal drugs.In some other posters mind that would scream black ops coverup or conspiracy.To some others that says that the man did his job without illegal help.

        Age; in the era of paranoia about everybody that abounds today wouldn`t a rational person think that somehow the government know exactly how old AP is and who he is.If anything was amiss wouldn`t a headline chasing media person come up with proof somehow.

        Perception can indeed be the reality to many.Only the ones really inside might know.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Bw, good questions. The Union objection to HGH testing to date had been the supposed unreliability of the tests. As a result, there has not been mandatory testing until now. So, how many used and are using is unclear. Guys like Ankiel and Glaus were caught because of their suppliers, not via testing. Pujols should remain innocent until proven otherwise.

  3. blingboy says:

    Baseball America knows everything and so does Derrick, so let’s look at their projected 2015 starters.

    Position players: 2 Molina, 3 Craig, 4 Wong, 5 Freese, 6 Ryan Jackson, 7 Holliday, 8 Jay, 9 Taveras

    Pitchers (rotation, closer): Wainwright, Miller, Garcia, Carlos Martinez, Tyrell Jenkins, Motte

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/organization-top-10-prospects/2012/2612631.html

    So Derrick, the Cards beat writer, either believes Albert won’t re-sign, or that he will re-sign but won’t be the starting 1B by 2015. Brian, would you mind asking him which it is? We promise not to let it leak into the P-D where he doesn’t seem to want it. :)

    • Brian Walton says:

      Sorry, bb. You’ll have to dig into than one yourself. I don’t know who did what and 2015 is too long from now to worry about… ;-)

    • Brian Walton says:

      Good news. I see that Derrick will be on The Stully and Dunc Show on 101 ESPN tonight from 6-8PM CT to discuss the rankings. If you get a chance to listen, let us know what he says….

        • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

          CDunc tries to run this by………….” I heard a rumor that AP approached them with an offer….and they just shut him down”……………… ya think???? Dave cringes ………….. another goody……Lozano’s bank records show????????? say what??????????? don’t you love it when things move unexpectedly……. who pays for a private investigator to do interviews that extensively ………… over that extended period of time???????????? I know the answer to that………. and I’m watching with interest……….

  4. blingboy says:

    Maybe this is the Cards’ thinking on re-signing Albert.

    Whoever signs him to a long term big money contract will end up with a bad contract, paying him far in excess of his on-field production over the term.

    Whoever signs him will have to be OK with deriving the benefit of just having the great one on the team, as he marches through the later part of his career, hopefully putting up impressive career numbers.

    The benefit of having the great one on the team, sucking up far more payroll than his production justifies, but still being the great one, will go over much, much better if the team is winning.

    So, the team that is really a fit to sign Albert is the one that can field a winning team with the payroll dollars left over after paying Albert far in excess of what his production justifies. In other words, winning AND having the great one, with a fat and happy fan base and local media would be the ideal and glorious, and profitable, situation.

    For anyone but the Yankees, this would only be possible with a steady infusion of top shelf produce from the farm, an effort which would have to have been undertaken years ago.

    So what teams fit that profile?

    • blingboy says:

      Filling out the roster with lots of farm guys can be tricky business, very unpredictable as a season wears on. So a GM proven to be adept at stepping out of a phone booth and finding needed hole pluggers on the cheap in the nick of time would be a necessary element of the profile we are looking for as well.

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