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Does Holliday Signing Mean The End Of Pujols In St. Louis?

Posted on January 07, 2010 by Don Spieles
Washington Nationals vs St. Louis Cardinals

After spending a fortune on Matt Holliday, will the Cardinals have the money to resign Albert Pujols?

Watching the post-season wraps ups for Major League Baseball this past November, you could have been easily convinced that Albert Pujols was the greatest player to every swing a bat.  If you were convinced, it was not only because everyone and their brother was talking about it as the MVP unveiling drew nearer, but also because even a quick look at Pujols’s numbers leaves people wide eyed.  He’s every smart fantasy player’s automatic number one draft choice and someday the term “highlight” itself will be replaced by “Pujols”.

So why is it that the Cardinals have all but decided to jettison Pujols by giving Matt Holliday his new opus magnum  $120 million contract?

First of all, am I the only one who realizes that Matt Holliday is not another Albert Pujols.  That’s not an insult as we could go decades before we see another AP.  But if the Cardinals are telling Holliday that he is worth this much green, how much will they have to give Pujols , the better player, in order to keep him?

Holliday will be getting roughly $17 million per year over the next seven years, not counting a list of bonuses for things like MVP, Silver Slugger, and playoff wins (exactly the same bonuses as Pujols’s current contract.)

In 2009, the St, Louis Cardinals spent $ 88,528,409 on contracts.  For the sake of simplicity, we’ll up that to $100 million in the next season or two.  So, with Holliday at that level, if the Cards wanted to keep Pujols for at least $20 million a year, that would represent 37% of their overall payroll for two players.  Put another way, they would have $63 million left to field the rest of the team.

Pujols has been the NL MVP three times during his career.

Pujols has been the NL MVP three times during his career.

$63 million is less than the payroll of the Cincinati Reds.  It is also less than that of the Kansas City Royals.  It’s is still a bit more than that of the Washington Nationals.

The truth of the matter is that St. Louis probably won’t end up being able to do this if they want to stay competitive in the N.L. Central.  So, if that be the case, what have the Cards gotten instead?

First of all, the two men are almost identical in age with Holliday being a bit older (less than a year).  In spite of that, Pujols has three more years of major league experience, having come up in 2001 as compared to Holliday’s 2004.

In terms of numbers, Holliday falls short.  Pujols has more than twice the home runs (366) than Holliday (176) even though he has only those three extra seasons (or 30% more plate appearences.)  Pujols has a higher batting average (.334 to .317), a higher OPS (1.055 to .925) and 200 less strike outs! Again, that ‘s extra important considering he has 1328 more at-bats than Holliday.

Pujols BB/PA (Bases on Balls to Plate Appearences) ratio is .144 as compaired to Holliday’s .091.  Holliday has been intentionally walked 33 times in his career.  That’s 11 less than Pujols was given a free bag just last season!

Pujols has been an All-star in eight of his nine seasons.  Holliday has been an All-Star three times.  Holliday finished in the top five for MVP voting once, coming in second on 2007.

Pujols has been the NL MVP three times and has finished in the top five in eight out of his nine seasons.

Pujols has five Silver Slugger awards to Holliday’s two, plus Pujols has a Gold Glove which Holliday does not.

Holliday’s biggest season for home runs was 2007 where he hit 36.  That same year, Pujols hit 33 – it was his lowest season total for his career, including two consecutive 51 homer seasons and four others where he hit 40 or more.

When Pujols becomes a free agent (he is signed through 2010 with a club option for 2011), he should garner more that this new Holliday contract, but going to another team could make that uncertain.  Staying with the Cardinals will never happen unless they beat Holliday’s contract.  St. Louis doesn’t have the stones for that.

The bottom line has the vision of Albert Pujols in Yankee pinstripes or with a Boston “B” on his cap became a good bit easier to imagine when the signatures dried on Holliday’s deal.


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