Cardinals GM John Mozeliak Knew the Chances of Re-signing Albert Pujols were Slim, Confirms St. Louis not in Prince Fielder Sweepstakes
It may be hard for St.Louis Cardinals fans fans to realize this, but John Mozeliak made the right decision in not giving Albert Pujols the absurd contract he got from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball and was a big reason for why the Cards won two World Series championships during his time in St.Louis, but Mozeliak had to think of the long term future of this ball club. Now with that being said will it be hard this year for Cardinals fans to come to ball park? You bet it will be. Who are you paying to go watch now? Matt Holliday? Lance Berkman? Those are two fine baseball players, but no one will match the iconic status that Pujols had. The Cardinals are not in a large market and do not have the kind of money coming from a television contract that the Angels, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox or Phillies do. The Cardinals are a team that has to make sound financial decisions and as hard as this pill is to swallow they couldn’t afford to give Pujols a contract of 10-years and $254 million. It would have crippled the franchise.
John Mozeliak joined KFNS in St.Louis with The Press Box to discuss his emotions the moment he found out that Albert Pujols signed with the Angels, Albert Pujols feeling slighted by the Cardinals even before the free agency period began, Dan Lozano expressing that the Cardinals should have signed Albert Pujols over the last few years before he hit free agency, the strategy the Cards went about in free agency to try to re-sign Albert Pujols, the idea of giving Albert Pujols a contract that no other player would ever get, and being out of the Prince Fielder sweepstakes.
Take us through the moment you got the news that Albert Pujols signed with the Angels. What happened right afterwards?
“When I found out yesterday morning my first reaction was disappointment and I spent 15-20 minutes on the phone with the agent [Dan Lozano] and we just talked about all the different things that transpired in the process. It was a very professional call. It wasn’t me trying to change gears or throw something else out there. I respect their decision and understood there was a lot of finality in that call. Once that call ended I then proceeded to reach out to Bill [DeWitt Jr.] to let him know and then I was hoping to go down to the Rule 5 draft, but as I was getting organized it started to leak. It was starting to become a very big news story as you could imagine. I packed up, hopped in a cab and went to the airport.”
Did you ever sense that Albert Pujols felt slighted because a deal wasn’t reach before the regular season last year? Was there any ill will going into this?
“I don’t think it’s fair for me to speak for him or on his behalf. I can tell you anytime you are engaging in a negotiation tensions can raise. I think emotionally it’s hard to detach yourself from it. It’s almost impossible not to take things personally, but I don’t want to answer for him. I can tell you how I felt through the whole thing if you want to know that, but I don’t know if that’s relevant.”
Did Dan Lozano [Albert Pujols’s agent] ever express that the Cardinals blew it and should have signed his client before it came to this?
“Not specifically like that. No. In terms of being told his client may not like this or something like that? You hear that all the time. That’s sort of like ‘agenting 101.’ Is that suppose to scare you into making a bad decision? The thing you have to do and maintain when you engage in this type of process is understand how you want to make a value judgement. If you are right or wrong time will tell, but it’s not something where you can make decisions strictly on emotions or try to appease emotions.”
In a bad economy with a superstar who had his statistics slip did you and Bill DeWitt Jr. have the idea that you wanted Albert Pujols back, but did you want to have him set the market? Did you want to come out of the gates with a flabbergasting offer or did you want to see what the market established first?
“Our game plan really was try to never let him hit the market last year. When that didn’t work ultimately we had to be reactionary to what was going on, but we knew…we always knew that if it was simply where player ‘X’ gets into market and it’s the highest dollars we are not going to be players in that. It’s just not something that our market is going to allow us to do. A lot of people are going to sit there and criticize us for that, but on the same token we want to make sure we can still put a team out there and have the right players to compliment as we move forward. A player of his ilk, an iconic player, he’s going to command a lot of money on the market and he did.”
Did you guys look at each other in the room and think we wouldn’t give out a huge deal like this to anyone else but Albert Pujols?
“Yes. Yes. Multiple times.”
Can we safely assume you will not be in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes?
“That’s a safe assumption.”
Responses to “Cardinals GM John Mozeliak Knew the Chances of Re-signing Albert Pujols were Slim, Confirms St. Louis not in Prince Fielder Sweepstakes”
I bought season ticket packs less than an hour after it was announced that Pujols was signing with the Angels. If I pay to see a certain player, it will be for a game (aka most recently I went to KC to watch the Royals play the Rays to see Carl Crawford play). I pay to see the Cardinals play as much as possible. Players come and go, egos never surprise me. We make ballplayers our heroes… but we never really know who they are as a person until they show their true colors.
Never ever ever in my life have I heard a St. Louis Cardinals fan say, “It will be quite hard for me to go to the ballpark this year.” St. Louis is the best baseball town in the nation. The Cardinals are defending world champions. The fans will get to see a healhty Cy Young candidate in Adam Wainwright every five days. They will get to see the best catcher in the game call balls and strikes behind the plate. They will get to see young power hitters who were also brought up within the organization finally get a chance at 30 home run seasons in David Freese and Allen Craig. To say that Cardinals fans will stop supporting the Cardinals because of one person is absurd. It is even more absurd because of all the reasons I mentioned above. In case you didn’t notice, stores were giving away Albert Pujols jerseys following the news of his departure. Boston and New York and LA can play the stock market all they want, in St. Louis we play baseball.
This whole thing stinks to high heaven. DeWitt and Mo have lied out loud and the media are letting them by with it for the pleasure of vilifying Pujols for a willing local fan base. DeWitt obviously COULD afford $26 million a year, since that is EXACTLY what he offered for five years. He obviously did NOT want Albert to be a “Cardinal for life,” unless life ends at 5 years. The $110 million budget limit is another lie, since the $26 million offer would have put them at $116m MINIMUM. With milestone incentives and the personal services contract, Albert gets $280 million NON-DEFERRED from LA; $180 non-deferred from STL with $30m deferred. He’d have been a fool to sign with STL. DeWitt never wanted him to do so.
I really do side with the organization on this one. People are simply not realistic if they think the ball club can exist by paying out more than they bring in. Their budget is what it is based on what they make in a year. (And there are a LOT more expenses than just the main club’s player’s salaries. You’ve got the rest of the staff, the front office, physical plant expenses, ground crew, player development and minor league staff, ALL minor league salaries and expenses, and on and on.) Point being, you cannot fault this club for standing fast on a budgetary number. I believe they wanted to sign Albert, but NOT at any cost. The naysayers believe different. They think any price is not too high to retain a ballplayer like Pujols. Problem is, these people will be complaining come 2017, in year 6 of his 10 year contract, why he’s not putting up the numbers and taking up so much space on the payroll. THEN these people will understand why 25 million FOR TEN YEARS is a very, very poor deal. If Albert really wanted to remain with this club, he could easily have accepted the 5 year deal for $26 mil per. THEN the next contract would deal with his health and productivity realistically. The Angels have a market that can absorb his payroll 6 years down the road, (when his $25 mil per will seem ordinary, FOR SURE.)
….whoever doesn’t make it to the Ball Park this season to see one of the most historic baseball franchises attempt to pull together as a “TEAM” and “CONTEND” for another World Championship…in my opinion has no business being a fan of “OUR” beloved “CARDINALS”….so please…stay away and wait patiently for the next “band wagon” to jump on and the next “SELL OUT” to adopt as one of your own…a 200M-210M contract for 9 years was a fair deal…HE”S GONE…I wish him all the best….”PLAY BALL”….GO REDBIRDS….:)
I love the Cards and Albert, but I also love Ozzie, oh yea, Terry P, and etc… but I respect the team I supported since i was a kid listening on the radio with my grandfather wearing his true red shirt and the hat of the great STL on it. Albert didn’t play then, and yes I will miss him, but in the long run, it will be Albert who will miss home not us missing Albert. Tomorrow another kid will steal the spot-light and we will look back at him with anticipation. To those who blame Moe or Bill, get over it, I say proud of you, what would you say in 9 years when we can’t afford a team and Pujols is hurt. Great Job! I still will buy tickets to any game I can; and I will enjoy the game of my favorite team that I have watched grown up and had the pleasure to work with for 7 years. Proud to be a Card yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Maybe it never comes to this if Albert and his wife sit down with Mr. Dewitt and Mr. Mozeliak. I believe Albert wanted to stay a Cardinal for life. He also wanted to be treated fair during negotiations. Who is to say that 10 years from now Albert is washed up? He might not be. Just his presence on the team would do so much for the younger players coming up. It’s not everyday you get to be with an icon up close. I say shame on the owner and general manager. Albert would have signed for less if you had any interest at all and showed good faith in the beginning.
Albert was a great Cardinal for 11 years. Lets face the facts we got the great out of him. John and the front office nailed this one no one player is worth that kind of money(Alex Rodriquez). I dont want my beloved baseball team to be handcuffed in years to come by a ridiculous contract. If its money they want go get it. That being said lets make an impact all that Pujols money could go to a Prince Fielder yet our news is resigning Skip. Cmon guys we have to have another impact bat and since the Larusa years are over (who I loved) lets start building our team from the middle out. Jon Jay is not the answer in center. Carlos Beltran
First I have to say that I am with the Cardinal front office on this one. I have been a redbird fan for a lot of years and I will have more hope going forward knowing that we will not be paying one player a fourth of the payroll. Not signing Albert has already paid off. The 2011 opening day payroll was 105.5M; the end of season payroll was a little over 121M. That is an increase of about 15.5M (increases to sign key players that made the title run possible). The team only paid part of that amount because they made the trades at the deadline (let’s say 5M for the sake of argument). If Albert had taken the deal last winter we would have paid him about 6M more in 2011. We would have had no chance of making those trades and would have finished well behind the Braves. In fact I think with our record in July we would have been sellers instead of buyers at the deadline.
I am not even going to get into the “it’s not about the money, it’s about commitment” nonsense. I thank Albert for his time as a Cardinal (I loved every minute of it) and wish him the best. In the end I am a fan of the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back. I was initially very upset that Albert would no longer wear a Cardinal uniform. After the shock wore off, I think both party’s did what they thought was in their best interests. The fans may not like it, but Baseball has turned into a big business. Unfortunately the Cardinals market could not compete with a bigger market (Angels). Since they were willing to offer Albert the moon, tere is nothing St Louis could do to keep him. Money Talks and b___ S___ walks. I wouldn’t mind so much if people only went to the games to see Albert. I might get a chance to get better seats.