The Cardinal Nation blog

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

What if Albert Pujols isn’t Albert Pujols?

The recent news of the falsified identity and age of another player from the Dominican Republic, the Cleveland Indians pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona, has baseball-watchers buzzing.

Carmona is now/back-to-being Roberto Hernandez Heredia, age 31 instead of 28. He is certainly neither the first nor probably the last player to be outed this way. Carmona/Heredia was arrested when trying to secure a visa to re-enter the United States.

This news has intensified ongoing questions about former St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, long suspected by some to be older than his reported age of 32. Where Pujols clearly differs from Heredia is that he became a US citizen and can more easily travel between the two nations as a result. In fact, Pujols was back in his homeland this past weekend, along with former teammates Yadier Molina and Rafael Furcal.

A member of The Cardinal Nation message board community speculated that if one day Pujols was caught like Carmona/Heredia, it might keep him out of Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

In my book, it gets down to whether or not all varieties of cheating are worthy of the same punishment.

At one end of the spectrum, we have gambling on one’s team. That lifetime ban is clearly spelled out in baseball’s rules. No debate is needed. Sorry, Pete Rose.

Then, we have another area which also led to concerns about the integrity of the game itself, steroid usage. Though we will know more next year with a new class of eligible players, Mark McGwire’s roughly 20 percent showing year after year in the Hall voting indicates how the writers seem to feel about this matter.

Near the other end, we have the admitted spitballer Gaylord Perry. There was so little concern about his transgressions that he was honored with a plaque in Cooperstown.

Lying about one’s identity and age is illegal. There can be no doubt about that. On the other hand, a player’s reported age is irrelevant to his hitting, pitching, playing defense or baserunning. I submit that Pujols’ numbers would have been the same no matter what date of birth was printed in game programs for the last 11 years.

I am not condoning age falsification, but I also don’t see it as being worthy of the death penalty, either. If Pujols’ age/identity were proven to be false, I could see the sportswriters penalizing him by not voting him into the Hall on the first ballot. Yet I would be very surprised if they would keep Pujols out indefinitely – even if he never played another game.

In my book, the only person who would have a clear right to take action following a Pujols disclosure is Angels owner Arte Moreno. More than one jilted Cardinals fan would relish seeing that still-hypothetical scenario play out.

If Pujols is proven to have lied about his age, should he be voted into the Hall of Fame one day?

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76 Responses to “What if Albert Pujols isn’t Albert Pujols?”

  1. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    This is a very weak piece of sports journalism…………………. getting caught up in the Homeland security net is just an indignity, Cleveland obviously isn’t going to sue him over services rendered or expected…………..they are leading in the effort to circumvent the process so that he can contribute to their team………………….. AP is likely just a little over 1yr older than stated………a common adjustment at the time for educational placement more than athletic advantage……….. and yet BD was in a position to “know this”………………………….. was this the reason that Selig took over the property prior to the Holiday signing? It was MLB advertising and Fox sports that created the Legend status for him in resent years…………………….. and of course it was Fox that will pay his salary ………… I see Bernie is moving ahead with the Tony story ………. thats smart ………….. just making some stuff up……………

    • CariocaCardinal says:

      An Westie serves up a hanging breaking ball in the fat part of the plate – right in my wheelhouse.

      Too bad the manager (Brian) has put the take sign on and I’m not ready for the CArdinlNation doghouse right now. :)

      • Brian Walton says:

        Most of the time I feel like Oquendo coaching third with Albert running through the stop sign. ;-)

        • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

          The silliness of Brian’s post actually stimulated me to make an inquire to a very interesting/provocative source ………… met him playing golf years ago in some pretty fast company………… he is employed by FS…………….. what he naively told me…………… blew my mind………….. as you all would be aware, the F contract for the A TV rights, wasn’t finalized during the AP negotiations ………….. as is their current modus operandi…………………… thats provocative enough…………. but the good part………is the wording of said agreement…………and its contractual expectations placed on the A ownership………. both currently and for the life of the contract ………….. this is obviously not a place to talk about such things…………. I could could say this though ……….. I would say that there is a 3 in 10 chance you might see AP in Cardinal uniform before 2015…………………. thank God I will miss that ………….. what an imagination…………..

          • JumboShrimp says:

            Brian punches out a piece almost everyday. His boss, Fox Sports, is working him hard.

            I loved Brian’s post last weekend with the photos from the Dominican. It was superb.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    Hysterias fade away. McGwire deserves to be in the HoF with all the other liars, cheats, and rascals who populate it and make us proud of the Game. Albert is probably more religious and honest than most already in the Hall.

  3. jde133 says:

    Yes, Albert is more religious than most in the HOF. Heck, he is so religious that God told him to sign with the Angels. Not to be sacriligious, but think about. If it had not been for God’s interference, Albert might still be a Cardinal.

  4. jde133 says:

    If Albert makes the HOF, is there anyway to prevent him from going in as a Cardinal?

    • Brian Walton says:

      Welcome, jde133. It would probably depend on who wanted to do the preventing. As I recall, the HOF makes the decision, but probably like anything else, if ownership and/or MLB strongly expressed concern privately, they might listen. We’ll not know the answer for perhaps 15 years or more (10 years for contract plus five-year waiting period).

      • Kansasbirdman says:

        I would say a big consideration would be what his stats are going forward and if he wins any WS championships (I hope not and I also hope the Cards always win it!).

      • blingboy says:

        There is always the chance he will retire early, and walk away from those backloaded years.

        • Brian Walton says:

          If that would happen, he would look amazingly stupid for not having taken that insulting 5 year/$130M deal offered by the Cardinals.

          • blingboy says:

            And I would look equally stupid with monkeys flying out of my you know where.

            • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

              Don’t let this go over your head………you have to go all the way to the wall……maybe even jump

              AP is trying to be something thats very hard to be………… he wanted help in a achieving it……instead of helping……BD bet against him……. the snag …….Moreno seemed sympathetic….. he isn’t deeply invested in this though …..Fox is…..when you are offering opt outs in TV deals……the other side of coin says that there are conditional opt-ins……… Dollar on a dime BD passed the hammer to Selig….who pasted the hammer to Fox……… both eying business instead of baseball………… everyone gets what they need……….. but if AP finds it hard to be what he’s trying to be……….. Likely……….the hammer will fall…………. question is…….is there a place on earth that would shelter a fallen hero?????????? if Pujols rakes…………. and the hammer falls anyway….just becasue Fox wants to cash out?????…… does he retire……or suffer the slings and arrows??? there’s your BD win/win scenario again….
              The Yankee’s thought better of trying to invalidate the A-Rod contract over the steroid accusations because of the foul oder surrounding that whole affair……….. misrepresentation of age could/would be a whole different ball game …………. Dollar on a dime again says thats what Lozano was approached with……..giving him leverage to leave BHSC……. and why they developed that stink bomb in case he turned mean against his home boys………… this is all fiction though…..just having fun…

    • T8Ball says:

      Time heals all wounds. How much time? It’s different for all people. Imagine getting an entire fan base to heal.

      I hope he would go in as a Cardinal. 11 years and 11 HOF productive years. Yeah, he’ll set milestones in another Uni, but the world saw his greatness in a Cardinal Uni. I suspect at least half of his contract with the Angels won’t be of HOF caliber.

  5. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    Do you know why its only one year, and the price is not disclosed? Looks like he might have been helping them “define” his role a little bit……………..

    Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/motte-agrees-to-one-year-deal-with-cardinals/article_c3dafb20-47a2-11e1-9547-0019bb30f31a.html#ixzz1kVt6HTqS

    • JumboShrimp says:

      I know why its just one year. We have several more years of control, so there is no reason to give Jason a longer term deal.

    • CariocaCardinal says:

      It’s only one year because that is what both sides agreed to. I’m sure if the team offered enough money Motte would sign for multiple years. And if Motte was willing to sign cheap enough for multiple years the team would gladly sign him long term.

      The terms weren’t disclosed because the team never discloses them and this appears to be a regurgitated press release that the PD just put up quickly to get the news on their web site. Lot’s of other sources already reporting the terms.

      Or maybe it was because that was what Fox Sports, Bud Selig, and the Italian Mafia demanded.

    • Brian Walton says:

      It couldn’t be any more boring than it is – right down the middle.

    • T8Ball says:

      Cough, Cough… Let me get this correct this time. “According to Brian Wilson on the main site….”
      Motte will make a smidge over 2.0 million if he meets his incentives, and a smidge under 2.0 if doesn’t meet them.

      I read the main site first, Brian!!!!! YAY ;)

      • T8Ball says:

        I actually did get the info from TCN media, twitter ditter.

        My official FIRST SOURCE.

        :)

        • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

          Motte made $435,000 last year. He had asked for $2.4 million in arbitration and had been offered $1.5 million.

          He can earn an additional $75,000 in performance bonuses: $25,000 each for 50, 55 and 60 games finished.

          He took the median………….. not the bait……….at 3.6/2……………… Timmy settles for 40+ in arbitration years…………………….. there is no need to compare them…………other than Motte is setting the table for a deal next year that may be in the upper 2′s and a two year possibility at 5yrs plus……….smart kid….lets see how Mo…. has Matheny….. handle it………….

          • T8Ball says:

            I don’t think they’ll mess with the man’s potential money. That sets a NASTY precedent for future free agents, and it’s not a reputation the Cards want hanging over their heads.

            He’ll either pitch well enough to earn multi-year contract or a 1 year big deal, or he won’t.

            The first time anyone in the FO suggests to Matheny to “mess” with a players future earnings, Matheny should walk.

            • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

              Tony didn’t………………………. the incentive payouts show the exact tenor of the negotiations…….. Mo/BD had to offer incentives to get the median………… the fact that there is no all star clause, shows the tension involved……….. thats standard procedure because its often, as in this case such a long shot……its absents means it was denied …. a message returned……… don’t forget the story of Salas last year………… archives….

              • T8Ball says:

                Salas didn’t have a bonus program in his purchased contract. He had a few hiccups, and TLR wanted to try Motte. Motte didn’t relinquish the role he officially didn’t have. I see no reason to give a first year arb player an ASG bonus if he only settles for one year.

              • T8Ball says:

                Now if you really want to delve into the archives, imagine what will happen to Motte this coming April and May. He is one of those “slow starters”. He really doesn’t get going till the summer. If he starts off like he typically does, he’ll be in jeopardy of missing out on the full 75k.

                Isn’t he from Colorado originally? I would have thought he’d be used to chilly weather. Maybe I’m wrong about his locale.

          • blingboy says:

            If I made $2 million I’d light my cigar with $25,000. They only put games finished incentives in closer’s contracts, that is the point of it. Ego starts early.

            • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

              25 large is an industry standard for this type of contract BB……… every position has it special emphasis
              perks………… the fact that it was included above the median was his agent talking…… the all star incentive is just a pat on the butt……….he didn’t get one…………his agent was pulling teeth for a month to get those…………………. Motte left 2011 with 4 pitches…….entered with 1.5 or 2……….he will be fine……….. they tried to send Salas back down to avoid the 200 grand that would have been due the Mexican league team from which he came had he stayed 6 weeks of whatever it was (2 months maybe?)…………. he made himself indispensable….and survived under Tony’s wing………… these were the types of moves that set the stage for Tony breaking his balls on the Colby deal…………..

              • blingboy says:

                It’s a tactical mistake to annoint a guy with about a dozen career saves ‘the closer’. There should be no favorite going into ST. That way, the guy who blows out the opposition best gets the job.

                And who knows who will be lights out in ST? What if its Salas? Or Sanchez, or Boggs? Do we go north with something less because we gave him a closer’s contract with games finished clauses?

                If Motte isn’t the opening day closer his agent will raise hell, and Motte will be disgruntled. What does that get us? We’d have been better off letting the arbitrator settle it, even if it cost an extra half mil.

                • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

                  You might be missing the point BB…………I could care less about what the pay Motte………
                  but within the context of these deals are the player/agents interpretation of the Market……………and also how hard Mo/BD are pushing their “your lucky to play here” shtick”……….. Kmac got some recognition of his early starting role……… Motte came out on top in the Tony superstition sweepstakes….. his agent knows what the replacement cost is for a closer……… he got a little blood from BD who loathes arbitration……….. I’m glad to see it………. its part of the attitude we need him to have in order to succeed ………… I’ve been reviewing the season……….. I’m into June now………. If White Sox tunnel early……look for T and D to arrive by August……….

                  • blingboy says:

                    I’m not sure about the D part. Mo’s had enough of that with Houston. He’s still under contract as I understand it, despite all the smooshiness.

                    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

                      His contract is just a tether……… incentive to keep the story straight…. he’s gone. He will never stay to be paid its full amount one way or another…………. just another point in which all have a shared understanding/interest ………….. Dave only returned last year for Tony’s last game ……. he continued on for other reasons than just ….. we need you Dave …….. Tony last chance to stay was based on an AP requirement for the 50M discount he was willing to take ……. Dave was just helping out Tony cope…… in the end just a Tony fantasy………..

                    • blingboy says:

                      You’re probably right Westy. While Dave has a long career with the Cards, its nothing compared to the length of his friendship with Tony, which goes back to the mid 60s when they were teammates in the California League. Almost 50 years.

                      Tony witnessed Dave outslug their teammate Reggie Jackson in 1966. That would have made an impression. (OK, I’ll quit with the obscure nonsense now).

                • Brian Walton says:

                  bb, I think I agree about not anointing a closer early. But I don’t agree about arbitration. Going to an arb hearing over this little bit of money could have made Motte more disgruntled than if he didn’t earn a mere $75K in bonuses. When all is said and done, if he pitches well, he will earn the pocket change and if he doesn’t, then the reason will be obvious to all.

                  • blingboy says:

                    I was just grousing about Mo caving on including the games finished incentives, which I assume Motte’s agent was insisting upon, and which caused the holdup. The other closer candidates might rightly feel they are not competing on a level playing field. On the other hand, they had a shot last year, so perhaps an uphill battle this spring is not unreasonable.

  6. blingboy says:

    “In 1998 Deidre or Dee Dee as she likes to be called met her famous hubby when she was just 21 years old. He was 18 but he told her he was 21.”

    Or. . . . was he. . . . .

    Hmmmm. . . . . . . hmmmmm. . . .

    http://sports.rightpundits.com/?p=5086

  7. CariocaCardinal says:

    Westie’s pinning his latest conspiracy theories by focusing on a $25K incentive bonus (which he really knows nothing about) in a $7 billion dollar business is hilarious. It also speaks volumes……..who is paying attention? :)

  8. blingboy says:

    At this time last year we knew who our closer was, and our ace, and our loogy, and our other loogy, and our center fielder and our shortstop. We were so smart. Maybe we are equally smart again this year.

    • friendmouse says:

      Great point(s), bb. We were a bit of a mess going into the season last year, yet so much was already settled. Now, coming off a World’s Championship, one would think we’d be more settled. Should make for a more interesting ST.

      • blingboy says:

        Yah, Mo has done a nice job setting all the pins back up just so. But as Ol’ Irish might put it, Ol’ Abner is standing there with a ball ready to send them flying.

  9. blingboy says:

    Trivia challenge.

    Only one thing of significance in baseball has ever happened in San Diego and that was the only game ever to feature two 44 year old starting pitchers. Can anyone guess who they were without looking it up?

  10. blingboy says:

    Trivia challenge #2.

    You might think that October 26, 1985 was the last time anything of significance happened in Kansas City but you’d be wrong. The first game ever to feature two 42 year old starting catchers happened there on May 4, 1990. Who were they?

    Ironically, the game also featured the so-called umpire whose name cannot be mentioned.

  11. blingboy says:

    Trivia #3-the finale’

    Nothing worthwhile ever happens in a year when you finish 21 games out. Except for 1999. Quite a few things happened, not even counting signing Heathcliff Slocumb.

    In April Fernando Tatis stepped into the box for the second time in the third inning against Chan Ho Park and made history with his second salami of the inning.

    In June the Cards drafted some guy whose name escapes me.

    And Big Mac drove in 147 runs that year on 145 hits, the highest RBIs per hit of all time.

    But if you thought that’s all that happened, you guessed it, you’d be wrong again, because the previous December Willie McGee had signed on for one more year with the birds, and in his final season 40 year old Willy made several starts in LF and faced off against two different starting left fielders also past their 40th birthday. Who were they?

  12. blingboy says:

    Trivia encore’

    Henderson and Nixon matched up in Oakland on July 17, 1998 in the first game featuring two 39 year old starting center fielders since Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker matched up several times in 1927. But that was American League so it doesn’t count.

    More recently, the National League saw its first ever match up of starting 39 year old starting center fielders, but slow and creaky they apparently were not, as one had a stolen base and the other a triple. Who were they?

    Hint: One of them had previously been traded for a current Cardinal.

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