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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