Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Plan B: Beyond Pujols

I previously asked how much Albert Pujols was worth. Based upon my results, his next contract should range between $17 and $35 million per year. That's an average possibility of $26 million per year. Whether or not you believe he deserves the amount he receives does not matter at this time because it is inevitable. You can blame the lack of a salary cap, but that is something to debate on another day.

The only questions left about Pujols this offseason regard his contract length, location, and if his decline will continue. If you are the St. Louis Cardinals, then I have two more questions for you: Is Albert the best option? If not, then what is the next best choice?

Ryan Campbell from FanGraphs suggested it may be more beneficial to upgrade second base and shortstop, which would allow Lance Berkman to shift to first base and allow Allen Craig to play full-time in the outfield along with Matt Holliday. The Cards may opt to sign cheaper talent or use internal alternatives (Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene) for their middle infield over Ryan Theriot and Skip Schumaker if Pujols is signed, which would have potential reward as an added possibility.

Roger Hensley from stltoday asked several people, including Larry Borowsky from Viva El Birdos, "If Albert Pujols were to leave the Cardinals via free agency, what area of the team do you think the Cardinals would most focus on improving with the money saved?" The majority of them suggests upgrades over their middle infield options, though Borowsky adds the necessity of center field depth to assist Jon Jay.

In a bizarre world where Pujols was no longer a Cardinal, Larry specifically chose Clint Barmes for second, Rafael Furcal at shortstop, and Coco Crisp in center. He goes on to say, "If Albert does sign elsewhere, I hope the Cards won’t feel compelled to throw money around just for appearances’ sake. If they can’t acquire players who actually make the team better, they should just let the payroll drop for a season or two and set the money aside until a worthwhile target comes along."

FanGraphs and Viva El Birdos speculates a lineup without Albert Pujols
I agree with Larry's opinions, especially regarding his final statement. The free agent market is weak this offseason and the money saved from not signing Albert could be better spent on the possibility of a more talented crop of free agents next year. Failure to sign Albert would be a devastating loss to the fans of Cardinal nation, but they should not feel obligated to sign a free agent just for the sake of signing somebody.

If the projections made using FanGraphs, Cot's Baseball Contracts, MLB Trade Rumors and Bleacher Report are accurate, then FanGraphs' second scenario without Pujols actually would provide more wins at a cheaper value when compared to his scenario with Albert, while Viva El Birdos' suggestion would provide the cheapest cost at nearly the same cost per win, $2.55/WAR.

I attempted to create my own scenario, but failed to find a more affordable cost per win without thinking creatively or unconventionally.

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