It appears that Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals will not come to a contract agreement this week, meaning he will invoke his self-declared moratorium on negotiations.
His agent will not talk to the team after Wednesday and he will refuse any and all trade proposals during the season. This is meant to insure that there will be no talk of his impending free agency until the end of the season.
Which means all we will talk about until the end of this season is Albert Pujols’ impending free agency.
That’s all we talked about for two years when LeBron James was playing his last seasons in Cleveland and Pujols is arguably more important to the Cardinals fans’ hopes and dreams. And we knew James was going to test the free agent waters. There’s still the “will he or won’t he” speculation to get through before we ever get to baseball’s version of The Decision.
Everything that happens to St. Louis in 2011 will be filtered through the Pujols Prism. Five-game losing streak in May? He’s leaving. First place at the All-Star break? He can’t leave now! Trade deadline? They have to bring in the pieces to keep him happy … or clear the pieces to afford his salary!
Pujols’ goal may be noble, but there’s no way he’s avoiding this distraction. His “ban” may even be counter productive. Forbidding his agent to talk (isn’t that what agents are for? To handle talking while you play?) eliminates the possibility of the Cardinals blinking in the mid-season spotlight and answering his demands.
Most importantly, fans will be on edge from day one until the Cardinals are eliminated. And a jittery crowd is a not a helpful (or supportive) crowd.