After a thoroughly enjoyable, active and at the same time relaxing vacation, I’m back at it. It will take me a bit to catch up on some of the stuff I missed, but I did ignore several developments, too. There’s no point in rehashing what’s a week or several days old.
But let’s start off with the Ryan Howard-for-Albert Pujols rumor. I don’t deny that there may have been some “internal discussions” by the Phillies. It is, after all, Buster Olney reporting, and his sources are as good as anybody’s. Though, because it’s the Phillies, it’s surprising that writer-in-residence Jayson Stark didn’t have this first.
As for the internal talks, someone could’ve said, “Hey! Let’s trade Howard for Pujols!” in a drunken stupor at the team holiday party and it could be considered, technically, “internal discussions.” (Incidentally, the well-known near-swap of Ted Williams for Joe DiMaggio that was referenced in that story allegedly was agreed upon after a night of drinking, tabled until the morning for further consideration in the sober light of day, and withdrawn after more clear-headed evaluation.)
Even if the Phillies may have thrown out those two names in the same sentence, and though the Howard-in-St. Louis angle has some merit, not only do I not see the Cardinals dealing Pujols, I don’t see him getting away. For various reasons, the Cardinals might not have the revenue of the Yankees or Red Sox or the ability to stretch their payroll as far as the top-paying teams in each league, but I have to believe that none of that applies to the contract discussions with Pujols. Of course, they won’t let Pujols and his agent know that, but — ahem — internally, they’d better be saying if there’s one player for whom they can be creative to sign on his terms, it has to be King Albert.
The Cardinals draw well. They probably sell a lot of merchandise in the Midwest. They contend every year — especially with Pujols. On the surface, the chances of them hamstringing themselves because of what they pay Pujols are minimal; obviously, we don’t know what their financial ledgers look like. But you have to believe that they wouldn’t have signed Matt Holliday to $120 million over the next seven years if they felt that would prevent them from signing Pujols.
The last paragraph of that story mentions the blockbuster deal in December 1990 when Blue Jays GM Pat Gillick (now an adviser in the Phillies front office) traded Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff to the Padres for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter. It’s amazing that that was nearly 20 years ago, and I was curious to see which players were active during the 1990 season and in 2009.
It’s a short list:
Ken Griffey Jr.
That kind of puts into perspective how often these kinds of deals happen, and the Phillies just made a pair involving Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, so should this one have any legs, it would be two once-in-a-generation deals going off within about a year.