Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cardinals Offseason, Operation: Sign Albert

Before I start to exhaust the topic on the St. Louis Cardinals' payroll, let me just post this lovely graph from Beyond the Box Score.
Progressive Likelihood of World Series Victory, via Beyond the Box Score
Wonderful. That should quiet all the nay sayers. Let's move on to the matter at hand. I must apologize for this being a near cookie cutter repeat of the Pittsburgh Pirates post, but I wanted to make sure this post was published as close to the deadline as possible.

The St. Louis Cardinals are now in the midst of the free agent frenzy. MLB Trade Rumors covered the Cards possibilities yesterday. The team extended a lot of their key players from the current roster before the season ended, so there are fewer holes to fill. Rafael Furcal and Octavio Dotel's club options were declined, so they will hit the free agent market along with Albert Pujols and everyone else.
Cardinals Attendance vs. Payroll, 2007-2011

The attendance and payroll data were collected from Baseball Reference and Cot's Baseball Contracts, respectively. The Cards' attendance has dropped every year since 2007, the year after they won the World Series against the Detroit Tigers. I have to assume their payroll will continue to trend upwards in 2012 since they won the World Series again.
Cardinals Current 25-man Roster Projection for 2012, MLB Depth Charts

MLB Depth Charts reports the Cardinals should be looking for a first baseman, shortstop, and left-handed relief pitcher. Lefties are pretty hard to come by out of the bullpen, especially when you look at the free agents available this offseason, so they may have to get creative. If I look at the payroll information available on Cot's Baseball Contracts and use MLBTR's projected arbitration salaries, then I come up with $96.61 million. This only leaves a $13 million gap to last season's payroll. No one has publicly reported how much the Cardinals are willing to spend, so we are not sure just how much higher it will go. Attendance should go up with another World Series title, but it may plummet even further if Pujols leaves.

Will they be able to sign Albert?
Can they sign any of their other free agents?
How high will their payroll become?
Will they need creative solutions?
Cardinals 2012 Payroll Estimate

I chose Furcal and Dotel simply because they may accept a cheaper salary to stay with the Cards, thereby keeping the team's payroll down as much as possible in order to sign Pujols. He was originally offered a contract prior to last season that amounted to $200 million over nine years, but declined supposedly because he wanted to beat Alex Rodriguez, whose contract is currently the most lucrative at $275 million over 10 years. If the Cards already offered him that much, then perhaps they would be willing to go a bit further. Matt Holliday may assist with the financial burden by diverting some of his contract to Albert.

As an Albert Pujols fan, I am hoping $22 million would be enough to lure him back next season. My proposed contract is $276 million over 10 years ($22, 22, 30, 30, 30, 32, 32, 32, 24, 22), which would be the new record and likely keep Pujols a Cardinal for life. It would be wise to add stipulations to the contract in case he gets injured, unlike A-Rod's contract with the New York Yankees.

I understand Albert is probably the best baseball player of all time and probably deserves the biggest contract of all time to match, but I doubt he would leave the Cardinals because of money. I believe he is far too charitable of a human being to stoop to the level of greed. Let's hope he remains the best St. Louis Cardinal since Stan Musial.

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