The reaction around baseball to the Albert Pujols signing varies widely, but it’s been the topic of discussion across the country today.
Chicago’s well-grounded Phil Rogers writes that Pujols is an honorable man, but that with St. Louis he was never in the Top 15 salaries in the game – despite three MVP awards – and last year ranked 23rd.
St. Louis columnist Bryan Burwell pulled no punches in analyzing the Cardinals efforts, offering three possible reasons for their efforts and buying this one: the team “opted for image purposes to put up a carefully constructed facade of a “negotiation” to mislead Cardinals fans into believing an earnest pursuit of Pujols was going on.”
Washington Post columnist Dave Sheinin’s take will make Seattle Mariners fans smile – he compares it to the 10-year deal Alex Rodriguez signed with the New York Yankees, pointing out A-Rod has been in steady decline since.
As for the response in Seattle, there are demands to sign Prince Fielder and have been – and will continue to be – angry fans blaming the Seattle front office for inefficiency. Signing Fielder at this point would be as big a public relations coup as a dramatic baseball move, given how far the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels have moved the American League West flag.
Would Fielder transform a Mariners offense that’s been the dregs of the league for years? Not alone. Without rebound seasons from Ichiro Suzuki and Franklin Gutierrez, vastly improved numbers from youngsters Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak and perhaps breakout years from Alex Liddi and Danny Hultzen … Seattle isn’t catching the top two teams in 2012.
Fielder can’t take a 67-win team into high-90s. The Mariners must first get to the 70s and 80s in wins, and a 14-game improvement next year leaves them at .500.
Put Fielder in a Seattle uniform, and if he’s leading the league in home runs in August – but the Mariners are 10 games behind Texas, Los Angeles or both – are the seats at Safeco Field full? Yes, winning fills them, but spending $200 million on Fielder only accelerates the process, not completes it.
Jack Zduriencik’s job is to build a winning team. The problem with the Pujols signing for the Mariners is, they’ll now need to win even more games. Would raising the payroll to buy one player – and one player only – accomplish that?