Friday, February 18, 2011

Albert Pujols is Iconic but not Bionic

For the past decade, number 5 has been the face of the St. Louis Cardinals. He's the hometown hero picked 402nd in the draft from Kansas city only to blaze through the Cardinals farm system like Seattle slew. Pujols will be 32 when his current contract is up and he wants ten years and 300 million for his new one. He might be the best player in the game, but he's not worth 300 million dollars. I know this because no player is worth that amount. His batting average of .312 for the 2010 season was the lowest of his career. He struck out 76 times, the highest in his career other than his rookie year. This tells me his bat speed is slowing down, slightly but it's happening. The science is simple. Your bat speed slows down with age, proven fact. Let me revise. Without pumping anabolic steroids into your veins, speed slows with age. The Pujols we will be watching five years from now is going to be a different player than the one before us today.

Some out there in the sports universe have argued that he deserves that monster contract because he could break the home run record someday. He's 31-years-old and has 408 home runs right now ten years in. Pujols will need 355 bombs to break Barry Bond's record of 762. Tainted or not, this is the number he needs. Whose to say he will get there?

The Cardinals can't afford to gamble and sign him with the hope he will get the all-time record. It's just not smart business. I'm no wall street guru, but I have watched the movie Wall Street to know there's a difference between market value and market price. Pujols market value which is his "true underlying value" is much less than his market price. His market price is high, but that doesn't accurately reflect the true market in baseball.

Okay, this is confusing. From now on, I will refrain all of my analogies to anecdotal tales, superhero references, and pop culture icons. Television icon, Steve Austin (Not Stone Cold), the six-million dollar man had a bionic left eye, bionic legs, and a bionic right arm. He had infrared vision, could run up to 66 miles per hour, and had the arm strength of a bulldozer. Albert Pujols thinks he's worth 294 million dollars more than that!

The bottom line is that the Cardinals don't make enough off of Albert being in a St. Louis uniform for the deal to be worth their while. Pujols doesn't bring extra seats to the ballpark. The stadium was filled before he got there and there will be warm butts in those red seats way after he's gone.  Paying Pujols 300 million will handicap the franchise for the next decade. There is also a handful of fans who believe he deserves 300 million because he was underpaid his first ten years. I didn't know 90 million was shorting somebody, but yes he was in relative terms not paid like the best player in the game. Unfortunately, in any industry the best aren't always the highest paid. If you are a top salesman at Cricket, you will make less money than a average salesman at Verizon. Verizon is the bigger company with more resources. This is just the way it works.

Pujols wants to be the highest paid player in the game. Alex Rodriguez currently is with his 10-year 275 million dollar deal. The difference is A-Rod plays for the highest revenue grossing team in baseball. The Yankees are the rich family in the middle class neighborhood, the mansion on a street of duplexes, operating differently than any other team able to pay their players what no other market can. The Cardinals want to sign Pujols and are willing to make him in the top 10 of highest paid players, but they don't have the resources to give him A-Rod money. St. Louis is a middle-market club and can't afford to give 30% of their annual payroll for the next decade to a 31-year-old first baseman. If somehow the Cardinals do make a deal in the realm of 300 million, what will happen to their two star pitchers? Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter are ace pitchers always in contention for the Cy young award.

Pujols does have a world series championship, but his numbers in the series weren't spectacular. He had one home run and a .200 batting average. Edgar Renteria had 2 home runs this world series for the Giants with a batting average of .412.  We just experienced the year of the pitcher. Now that steroids have been taken out of baseball, speed and pitching wins games, not power. The San Fransisco Giants won the world series and were one of the worst hitting teams in the National League. They beat the home run hitting Rangers by dominate pitching. There is the possibility that the Cardinals could lose Albert Pujols. Teams like the Cubs, Yankees, and RedSox will show interest. Personally, I'd rather take 70% the player of Pujols whose five years younger for 50% of the price. That seems like the smarter investment. Pujols preparation and focus for the game is undeniable, but that won't stop him from getting older. There have always been great players in every sports arena, but none of them could beat the opponent that is father time.

No comments:

Post a Comment