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Yes, Albert, It Is All About the Money

By Mark Ashby Vaughan

Is Albert Pujols about to become Major League Baseball’s answer to the NBA’s LeBron James?

Winning the 2011 World Series may actually be Albert Pujols’ worst nightmare. Participating on a World Series winner has created a major public relations problem for him and his agent.

Albert has repeatedly said that his only ambition in baseball is to play for a competitive team. He has also repeatedly stated that money is not his primary incentive for playing ball. Well, as they say, now is the time for the rubber to hit the road.

Albert turned down a $200 million contract offer by the Cardinals prior to the start of this season and put off contract negotiations until the end of the season. He could have entered the 2011 season as the crowned prince of Saint Louis by signing. Instead, he opted to test free agency after the season.

He struggled often and mightily during the year. He had good numbers by normal baseball standards, but it was the first year in which Pujols failed to hit .300 and drive in 100 runs in his 11-year career. Albert often looked uncharacteristically befuddled at the plate while leading the league in hitting into double plays.

Thanks to a cast of supporting players, a savvy trade deadline swap of Colby Rasmus, the acquisition of Rafael Furcal and the resurgence of Comeback Player of the Year Lance Berkman, the team managed to sneak into the playoffs where they magically won it all.

Now the ball is in Albert’s court.

If he spurns the Cardinals for more money, then it cannot be all about playing for a competitor. The Cardinals have played in three World Series since Albert’s rookie season. Only the mighty New York Yankees have equaled that number. And only the Boston Red Sox have matched the Cardinals’ two World Series titles within that same time frame.

Where is it that Albert can go to be more competitive than the team he’s already on? If he signs elsewhere then it will have to be all about the money.

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