One version of the “insider story” of Albert Pujols’ signing with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim has already been told – from the perspective of his agent, Danny Lozano – in a December 8 article by Bob Nightengale of USAToday.
Now we hear it from the angle of the Angels, primarily general manager Jerry Dipoto. That story is entitled “How to Land the Big One, the Inside Story of Signing Albert Pujols.” It will appear in print in the Feb. 6, 2012 “Recruiting Issue” of ESPN The Magazine, but is already posted online for ESPN subscribers. (Cover photo shoot video is also included.)
Written by Sam Miller, who covers the Angels for the Orange County Register, the piece describes the interrelation of the club’s successful quest to sign left-handed pitcher C.J. Wilson with their pursuit of Pujols.
The article includes many already-known details about the telephone bonding between Halos owner Arte Moreno and Pujols along with a few mild surprises.
Pujols defended the short courtship.
“I only spend five minutes talking to or meeting a guy and I know pretty much,” Pujols said after he signed. “God has given me that wisdom. I don’t even know [Moreno], and he called me one of his partners. That means a lot.”
Very little was written about the Cardinals position but what was said, I found most interesting.
“The Cardinals had made Pujols and his wife, Deidre, feel almost unwanted with their offers, the first of which was for just five years… It was as though the Cardinals could see only the downside to signing a 31-year-old Albert Pujols while the Angels saw opportunity,” Miller states.
I guess St. Louis’ rumored first offer this past fall is what was meant, which was reportedly for just five years. Though it was not mentioned that proposal was for a salary of $26 million per year, a higher average annual value than the 10-year, $240 million deal Pujols and the Angels later agreed upon. Also not referenced were earlier or later bids made by the Cardinals, which reportedly went up to as much as ten years, though at a lower AAV and with deferred money. Since the ESPN story was admittedly written from the Angels’ perspective, it should not be too surprising those details are missing.
Last week, Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III had the following to say about the Pujols situation.
“Our fan base is so knowledgeable that there were some things that we were tempted to say about how things went down. Not so much negative against Pujols or anything like that, but just defending the way we approached it, going back over time – having given it a good shot two years ago, one year ago, then in this off-season. I think there were some accusations about if we should have done it earlier and things of that nature.
“You can go back in time and I think the instinct we had was to lay it all out there. But then, we saw the reaction. And the reaction was overwhelmingly, I think, sympathetic to the way we handled it. And given that reaction, we just decided to let it go. Let the last word be theirs. I think that was probably a good move because any time you just get into a ‘he said, she said’ pissing match, it doesn’t leave a good taste,” DeWitt III said.
It will be interesting to see how this story evolves over time as to which offers are remembered and in what sequence. The ESPN-Angels version clearly hits hard the damage caused by the perceived lack of respect shown Pujols by the Cardinals.