O Albert, where art thou?
After signing a 10-year deal with the Angels worth $254 million, expectations were through the roof for Albert Pujols, and rightfully so considering that the former St. Louis Cardinals slugger had launched no fewer than 32 home runs in a season dating back to 2001 and batted under .300 just one time, a .299 mark last season over 147 games.
Over in the National League, the heartbroken city of St. Louis chose to replace Pujols with veteran slugger Carlos Beltran, a move that many said would result in a major loss of production considering Beltran’s age and injury history.
As the Major League Baseball season begins to creep towards the one-quarter mark, the Pujols-Beltran storyline is easily one of the biggest surprises.
PUJOLS vs BELTRAN
Carlos Beltran eclipsed Pujols’ current 2012 power numbers on May 2nd alone, when the St. Louis outfielder launched two home runs and posted 7 RBI. In 27 games so far this season, Pujols has 0 HR and just 5 RBI, while batting .194 and posting an abysmal 237 OBP in 27 games and 108 AB’s. Carlos Beltran is currently dealing with a hamstring injury over the last few days, but in 25 games played, Beltran is batting .273, with 7 HR, 18 RBI and a .390 OBP – all stat lines that have far eclipsed that of Pujols to date.
To some degree, one could make the argument that Pujols needed some time to adjust to the American League, its pitchers, ballparks and his new teammates. But when an athlete leaves a place that he played for over a decade, while signing a deal worth more than $25 million per season, there’s only so long that an excuse can last. In fact, any excuse for Pujols likely walked out the door days ago.
Even the usually laid back folks of Southern California have begun to show their displeasure, recently booing Pujols for his lackluster performance so far this season. Any franchise from the Northeast would have shipped the “boo birds” out for attack weeks ago.
As for what is going on with Pujols, it could be a number of different things, from age (he’s 32), to the aforementioned adjustments to putting too much pressure on one’s and more. It’s likely a combination of numerous factors, but if the Angels want any chance to compete with the Texas Rangers in the AL West, the team’s success will start with Pujols breaking out of his current funk.
FANTASY SPIN: Trade for Pujols!
This is the first time in over a decade that it’s possible that a Fantasy Baseball owner could have a chance to buy low on Albert Pujols, or at least have an opportunity to acquire him in a trade. Pujols’ value couldn’t be any lower, and if a manager has faith in him making a recovery, then one could – and should – take a flyer on acquiring Pujols, but only at the right price.
It will obviously depend on the manager that owns Pujols. If the manager in your league lacks patience, it’s possible that he could be willing to move Pujols, and it may be a good idea to see if you can get your hands on him.
THE MILK CARTON
Albert Pujols lands on the first ever “Milk Carton” at The Wife Hates Sports, posing the question: “Where has this sports star disappeared to”?
Seriously, Arte Moreno, the owner of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, wants to know – and so does his pocketbook.
It’s just another warning to Major League owners and general managers out there – be careful with your money, as even the high priced free agent superstars can and do fizzle out at some point in their careers.
Only time will tell if Pujols is headed in a major downward spiral, or if he can right the ship.
But if you happen to locate Albert Pujols…