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

Pujols to be ESPN The Magazine’s cover boy

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.

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11 Responses to “Pujols to be ESPN The Magazine’s cover boy”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Free agency is big news within baseball, so moves are going to tend to be celebrated, unless a magazine is narrowly tailored to the fan base of the team that loses somebody. Los Angeles is a big market, so ESPN is going to tell a story to entertain more fans.

  2. CariocaCardinal says:

    I dont rule out that it i possible that the Cardinals simply made a tactical mistake with the short term offer. Apparently made to gauge Pujol’s desire for highest AAV vs. long term contract value it apparently was misinterpreted but since Albert has so much wisdom from God to judge such things he must be right.

  3. blingboy says:

    One possibility is that Albert gets better vibes from fellow Latinos, like Arte. His agent, his friends and the teammates he is closest to seem to all be latinos. TLR would be an exception although he speeks the lingo.

    There are cultural differences affecting nuance and the fine points of relationships and jockeying for position. It is quite possible that it was not the numbers in the initial offer that caused the offense, but some other aspect of the situation, and the way the offer was presented. The same offer handled in a way more sensative to those peculiar nuances of Albert’s native culture may not have caused offense.

    Its also not a sin if the Cards just didn’t think he would be be worth the money, but were, and are, too classy to put it that way.

    • Brian Walton says:

      I recall Renteria also played the respect card when he departed. In that case, the deals were reportedly a lot closer, but maybe Theo and John Henry whispered en Espanol?

      • blingboy says:

        Not to split hairs, or get too much into it, but Columbia and the D.R. are 1000 miles apart, and I believe the latin cultures can be as different from each other as they are from the U.S.

        Of course, Arte’s native Mexico is just as far from the Dominican. But the point is that cultural differences can be tricky and delicate business. And there is no denying Albert seems more comfortable with latinos.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Hey folks, its just about the money, not about language and culture. Lets not be accept Albert’s absurd story about falling in love with Arte.

          Raffy Furcal is Albert’s buddy. So was Raffy sad when Albert left? No, just the opposite. Raffy got excited, because it meant the Cards had more money with which to pay him. Did Mo whisper to Raffy en Espanol? No. He showed Raffy the money.

          Same with Beltran. Carlos clearly indicated Mo paid him so much money he could not follow his heart to Toronto. Instead, he followed the checks to Missouri. If a team pays a player more, he will express love for the owner, GM, and city.

          Love for sale. Who will pay the price for a ticket to Paradise?

  4. friendmouse says:

    Sorry, folks, but I just cannot rouse any interest in ruminating about what was, is, or might have been concerning Albert. He’s history as a Cardinal. But I am ruminating about certain other Cardinal (and related) questions: who will miss more games due to injuries…Furcal or Beltran or Berkman? (I say Beltran); will Schumaker play more innings as a second baseman or as an outfielder (I say 2nd baseman); will Tyler Greene still be a Cardinal at the end of the season (can’t decide); will Yadi re-sign with the Cardinals (I say yes); will Freese make the All-Star team (can’t decide); will we make the playoffs (I say YES!); will Braun have to sit out 50 games (I say yes); will A.Craig hit 20+ HR’s for us this year (can’t say); will Howard’s Achilles be fine to start the season (I say no way); will Colby have a break-out year and hit .275+, 25+ HR’s, and 90+ rbi’s (I doubt it); will Rick Ankiel play in 100+ games this year (maybe :) ); will Westbrook be our #5 at year’s end (no comment)?
    To little ol’ “shallow” me, these topics are of much more interest than Albert’s coulda/shoulda contract speculations.

    • blingboy says:

      C’mon friend, this is the time of year for inane banter. We can talk about that other stuff once pitchers and catchers report. IIRC, by this time last winter conversation had degenerated to name calling and fart jokes. Brian must be clotheslining some of those guys blowing past his stop sign.

      • crdswmn says:

        I expect to see WC’s Orly Taitz’ impersonations and Jumbo’s versions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, but the rest of you need to stop inhaling.

      • friendmouse says:

        I suppose you’re right, double-b, but the re-hashing ad nauseam gets to me. But, I understand. It was, literally and figuratively, a BIG deal. Folks still do talk about the trading of Babe Ruth and the trading of Lou Brock, etc. And while this was not a trade, per se, it falls in the same general category. I just seems like there are plenty of other topics which are more fun and “productive” (yeah, as if that can be measured!). Oh, well…as you suggest…such are the doldrums of the off-season.

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