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Pujols a Cubbie?

By Mark Ashby Vaughan

I generally detest pre-season prognostications by so-called experts. They are so unflatteringly wrong and the prophets so completely unapologetic after their forecasts are proven entirely false. So, I am loath to make any predictions myself.

However, I am going to make what I will call an “educated guess” regarding the bidding for Albert Pujols by MLB teams after the conclusion of the 2011 season (assuming, of course, that Albert and his representatives hold fast to their self-imposed restriction of negotiating a contract extension during the upcoming season).

Here it is: If Albert Pujols goes to market as a free-agent, the Cardinals will not be the highest bidder for his services. There, I said it.

Consequently, if Albert remains a Cardinal it won’t be because they offer him the most money. I expect several teams to outbid the team, including the Angels, Rangers and Cubs. The Cubs, interestingly enough, signed Carlos Pena to a 1-year deal for over $10 million and he hit under .200 for 2010. Let me repeat that – he hit under .200 last year and he got $10 million and change from the Cubs. The Cubs, therefore, will have an unsigned first-baseman going into the 2012 season and a lot of money to throw around.

Pujols will be 32 years old going into the 2012 season. If the rumors are true that he is seeking a 10-year contract at $30 million per year, then the Cardinals are not going to go down that road. And who could blame them? Players decline in performance after the age of 36. That’s just Mother Nature at work. Are the Cardinals going to pay Albert premium dollars in his declining years? I doubt it.

The Cubs, on the other hand, haven’t had a World Series win in a long, long time and they may just be nuts enough to spend like crazy to win one.

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