|Media’s Coverage of Pujols Negotiations Lacking||| Print |||Send|
Written by Matt Trueblood (Contact & Archive) on February 16, 2011
Of course, some will not see it that way. Just as it took 30 years of coaxing to make Americans believe in global warming, so it will take some time for those with stars in their eyes to come to terms with this situation. That is to be expected.
"Give me a break on this extension stuff," Valentine said. "So if Albert goes in and he says, 'Okay guys, I want two years at $15 million per year,' they're not going to sign him three weeks from now? Or if they say, 'Hey, we want to give you 15 years at $30 million per year,' he's not going to sign it on Opening Day? ... They're going to keep negotiating and do what's right for both sides before this is all over."
Setting aside the blatant misunderstanding of the deadline -- negotiations like these do not come down to one side making the right offer, but rather must resolve themselves through a gradual give and take, which cannot happen after a deadline like this passes -- Valentine's comments demonstrated an unfounded conviction shared by many of his ignorant peers: Albert Pujols and the Cardinals need each other, this axiom seems to say. Surely, they cannot really part ways.
What would one be without the other?
Well, as any sports fan worth their salt knows, that has never been good enough before. Pete Rose, the hometown kid who made good for those glorious Cincinnati Reds teams, spent a half-decade in Philadelphia. Brett Favre, beloved of the Green Bay Packers faithful for 15 years and an adoptive son of the North, spent his sunset and twilight years in New York and Minnesota.
Of course, Pujols is still in his prime, unlike either of those men. Perhaps, then, the most apt comparison is the most recent: LeBron James, that paragon of Cleveland, left without so much as a fond glance in the rearview mirror. James took his talents to Miami even though Cleveland had the right to offer him more money than any other team. If Pujols becomes a free agent, one thing is eminently clear: The Cardinals will not be top bidders.
In the same video, Valentine set forth another crucial (and utterly untenable) misconception about the situation, regarding the current salary landscape in Major League Baseball.
"I think the days of 10 years are over," Valentine said. The imaginative viewer could see a tiny Troy Tulowitzki on Valentine's shoulder, trying to get the elder man's attention but failing. "I think we have to get real."
This offseason saw Derek Jeter milk his long-time employer for roughly five times market value; Tulowitzki ink a six-year contract extension through 2020 despite having missed over 100 games with myriad injuries since the start of 2008; Joey Votto get three years and $38 million just to achieve cost certainty during his remaining arbitration years; and (count them) 17 relief pitchers get multi-year deals. If Valentine honestly believes the market is anything but player-friendly in terms of both years and dollars, he left his heart (and his brain) in Chiba City.
It is not only Valentine, though. A huge number of so-called industry insiders believe that Pujols and the Cardinals have no choice but to get together on a long-term deal eventually. The real insiders, though -- men like Buster Olney and Jon Heyman, who regrettably rely much too heavily on anonymous sources but who make excellent use of their abundant access to get informed opinions from executives and officials throughout the league -- have begun to report increasing pessimism on every side.
The Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels, these reports note, have begun to prick their ears at all Pujols news. Sharks miles and miles from this boiling spring smell blood in the water. Pujols may yet sign with the Cardinals, either now or after the season. The dismissive naiveté shown by certain members of the national media, though, now wears on the patience of intelligent baseball fans everywhere.