When news broke that the Los Angeles Angels would be releasing Albert Pujols, fans of the St Louis Cardinals had visions of Albert and Yadier Molina reuniting. Is this something fans should even hold hope for happening?
When Albert Pujols left the St Louis Cardinals almost 10 years ago it was hard to believe a day like this could arrive. One of the greatest baseball players ever, being released from the final year of his10-year multi-million dollar contracts, which included an extra 10-year service agreement.
It was hard to comprehend he was leaving the team he had so many wonderful moments with to go with a new team under the guise that they somehow had more appreciation for him. Have you seen Opening Day at Busch Stadium? The Cardinals love and appreciate their former players. Especially the ones who have made an impact. It is ridiculous to fathom he would not know how much he was and is loved by Cardinal Nation, including the organization.
You could tell when he returned in 2019, he knew he was loved and appreciated by the St Louis Cardinals faithful. There was even open dialog between Pujols and the Cardinals management. Minutes long standing ovation. A big hug from Yadi. Ovations for every at-bat all weekend. And that special home run.
It made you appreciate every home run you ever saw him hit while wearing the Birds on the Bat.
But Pujols isn’t the same guy we lost a decade ago. In 92 plate appearances this season for the Angels, he is hitting .198/.250/.372, 75+ wRC. He has five home runs.
Honestly, it sounds like many on the Cardinals roster.
But remember, it’s Albert Pujols. He has 667 career homers – that’s fifth all-time. He has 2,112 RBI, which is third all-time. He has a nice 669 doubles, and that’s fifth all-time. He has 1,352 extra-base hits, which is also fifth all-time. That’s a lot of records for our favorite number 5.
That’s a lot of records for a career that shouldn’t end with a team designating him for assignment.
Back to the question at hand. Should Albert Pujols return to the Cards?
Could it happen?
That’s the issue.
Pujols was losing playing time on the Angels. He still plays first base and, in the American League, he was getting some time as the designated hitter. The team has younger (and more productive) options in Shohei Ohtani and Jared Walsh at DH and first though.
The National League doesn’t have a designated hitter this season. The Cardinals have an All-Star first baseman in Paul Goldschmidt. Every position has a great option. The bench, however, has been flowing with options including Matt Carpenter.
Not to be too petty, but Matt Carpenter is hitting .115/.254/.288 with three home runs and a 55+ wRC. Much like Pujols, Carpenter is also hunting for playing time.
Pujols could definitely be a right-handed option off the bench. He could provide a break to Goldschmidt, who does have occasional lower back issues. He could be an amazing brain to pick for the younger players. He could provide an open ear for the older players, coaches, manager and organization as a whole.
But, will the stars line-up to bring him back?
The Angels will, reportedly, have seven days to trade Pujols. If he’s unclaimed on waivers and officially released, he will become a free agent. He could then be signed to a prorated minimum amount.
It will interesting to see what happens over the course of the next few days. Maybe Yadi, Cardinals players and alumni will talk Pujols into coming back to finish out his amazing career where it started. One final ride. But, it’s certain he will have other offers. Tony LaRussa is managing the Chicago White Sox, after all.
After all this time, it could happen, though. Albert could come back to the Cardinals. And it could be amazing.