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Albert's Future

By LS Murphy

When Albert Pujols left Busch Stadium after cleaning out his locker, he avoided speaking to the St. Louis media. He then made a pointed statement during a radio interview in the Dominican Republic that he wasn’t in a hurry to extend his contract. Now Cardinals fans, and management, are left to wonder, does Albert want out?

Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball. Period. St. Louis fans have known this since he made is debut on April 2, 2001. His athletic ability and his humble demeanor fit in with the image that St. Louis expects form their players. Since 2001, Albert showed baseball fans that he is this generation’s Stan Musial. Unfortunately, outside of St. Louis, he was just seen as the Cardinals first baseman.

Until this year.

In 2009, Albert Pujols had Triple Crown numbers before the All-Star game. Suddenly, the national media re-discovered him. They remembered that he is the best in the business. And they started throwing that title his way. Along with another, legend in the making. Fox’s commercial featuring Pujols as a once in a lifetime player pointed out what St. Louis fans already knew. Albert is special.

Major League All-Stars came into his city to see what playing in Baseball Heaven was really like. When Albert’s name was announced for the National League starting line-up, Cardinals fans gave him such a rousing ovation that Pujols grinned like a banshee and said “wow”. This is Albert’s town and he knows it.

So why the local media shun and somewhat cryptic statement on the Dominican radio? There is speculation that now Albert doesn’t want to finish his career here. That is certainly plausible but that would go against what he has said in the past. Albert made it clear that he wants to stay a Cardinal as long as the organization keeps putting winning teams together. For him to suddenly want to jump ship after this season seems pre-mature.

Albert Pujols isn’t about the money. He won’t leave St. Louis just because some other team offers him a bigger paycheck. But he will leave if Cardinal management doesn’t make an attempt to put a winning team around him. If Albert is wary about talking extension this off-season, it seems more logical that it is because he wants this organization to show him that they are willing to commit more than one season to making it to the post-season.
The ball is in Bill DeWitt’s court. It’s his game to lose. Either way, Albert will come out a winner.

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Cardinals Mix blog featured writers LS Murphy,Brian F. Logush
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