I wish Chicago Sun-Times columnist Joe Cowley would stick to telling White Sox general manager Ken Williams how to do his job.
In Thursday's Sun-Times, Cowley, a former longtime White Sox beat writer, advised Cubs fans to not get their hopes up in regards to the North Siders signing St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols. He suggested that any Cubs fan who dares dream of Pujols donning a Cubs uniform in 2012 should "pick up the nearest stapler and punch it into your chest to help snap you back to reality."
Albert Pujols sure would look great wearing a Cubs uniform in 2012.
Cowley claims that signing the 31-year-old Pulols, the greatest hitter of his generation, to a long-term contract would be a foolish move by general manager Jim Hendry.
Pujols, it is believed, is seeking a 10-year, $250 million deal. He turned down an eight-year, $200 million offer from the Cardinals before spring training and has vowed not to discuss his impending free agency until after the conclusion of the season.
But Bernie Mikalsz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote that it would be naive to think that the Cubs won't take a stab at signing Pujols.
I don't understand what Hendry would have to lose by taking a shot. It's true that Pujols won't be the same caliber of player that he is now when he's 41, but I'll guess he'll still be better than Carlos Pena at age 32. The Cubs should consider the salary they will pay Pujols on the back end of the contract as an investment on the expected phenomenal production they would get on the front end.
The idea that signing Pujols would prevent the Cubs from going after several players who could help them fill their many holes reminds me of when general manager Larry Himes let Greg Maddux walk away after the 1992 season. He argued that the money that weould have gone to Maddux gave him the funds to sign Jose Guzman, Randy Myers, Dan Plesac, Candy Maldonado, and Willie Wilson. Only Myers provided any long-term value, but I still would have preferred Maddux.
Quantity does not necessarily equal quality.
What a coup it would be for the Cubs to acquire the best player from their traditional rival. It would make the Cardinals much worse and conversely make the Cubs much better. Pujols would provide the Cubs with the fearsome power source they so badly need in the middle of the order, someone to knock in high on-base percentage guys at the top of the order like Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney. He would also rival Derrick Rose as the top drawing card in Chicago sports.
And Pujols is the anti-Milton Bradley, respected by teammates and opponents alike. He's never been suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs. He is known for his tremendous work ethic. He doesn't drink nor smoke. He is a Gold Glove-caliber fielder and while not fast, is an excellent baserunnner.
There is more than enough to put toward the initial outlay of cash it would take to land Pujols in the salaries that come off the books following the 2011 season - $14.5 million to Kosuke Fukudome, $11.5 million to Carlos Silva, $10 million to Pena, and $4.8 million to John Grabow.
With the financial problems of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, Pujols' only other serious financial suitors likely would be the Cardinals, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Angels.
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, referring to long-term contracts, was quoted in Cowley's column:
"The length of the deal is often a bigger problem than the dollars. You have to be very careful if you're going to sign one of those longer deals, if you're going to take on one of those guys for seven, eight, nine years. Better make sure that's the guy you want."
If there ever was such a "guy," it has to be Pujols.