Friday, December 2, 2011

Will Pujols and Fielder be worth the money?

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One things certain, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are going to get paid alot of money pretty soon. How much they get paid and who they sign with is uncertain right now, and will probably take awhile to play out. Both players are free agents for the first time and both have only played for one team. Pujols has played 11 seasons for the Cardinals, and Fielder has played 6 full seasons and part of another for the Brewers. Fielder is the younger of the two who will be 28 next season, Pujols is four years older and will be 32 next year.

Pujols is on to a Hall of Fame career and is one of the best hitters ever to play the game. Fielder has been on the league's best hitters since he's came up. Both players are expected to get lengthy 9 figure deals, with Pujols possibly making over 200 million. Agents Dan Lozano and Scott Boras are busy scheming up ways to get a team to cough up more money. Its alot of money to invest in just one player and could be an albatross for a team if their production slips from its current level. Below is a couple of links with both players career statistics.

Historically, big bodied first baseman decline in their 30s which is bad news for Fielder. He'll have to stay in better shape than his dad Cecil Fielder to maintain his production. Fielder may be a better fit in the American League were he could DH later in the deal. Pujols isn't without risk either since he wants at least a 7 year deal, possibly even 9-10 years. He'll be already 32 next season, and some suspect he may be older than that. While I think he'll be good for the first few years of the deal, I'm worried about the last half of the deal when he's on decline. Its been rumored he turned down a 9 year extension worth around 200 million before spring training, so I'm not sure what salary figure Pujols and his agent have in mind.

Looking back at some other big name 1B who have signed big free agent deals or extensions, more often than not they don't live up to the deal. Jeff Bagwell signed a 5 year 77 million dollar extension after 2001 and his numbers dropped in his third year, was hurt most of his fourth, and didn't even play his last season of the deal. Todd Helton signed a 9 year, 141 million dollar extension which started in 2003 and ended this past season. He was an elite hitter the first three years of the deal, but his power has dropped since and became more injury prone in his mid 30s. He maintained his ability to hit for average and get on base, and still remained a good defender though.

Teams looking to make a big splash by signing a big name first baseman haven't had great results either. Richie Sexson was a bust in Seattle and was released in his final season. Mo Vaughn completely fell off after leaving Boston with his average, on base pct., and slugging pct declining significantly. Jason Giambi was under investigation for steroid use early in his 8 year 120 million dollar deal with the Yankees, in which he admitted to using steroids a couple years later. Giambi still hit for power and drew walks, but no longer hit for average batting only .260 in New York after batting .311 for Oakland. Jim Thome performed well in 5 of his 7 years the Phillies gave them, but was traded midway through it and became a DH after that. He was also blocking Ryan Howard from playing sooner, and the money could of been better spent elsewhere.

I do hope the Cardinals re-sign Pujols, but at the right price and right amount of years. I dont' think a 9 or 10 year deal is a good idea and have my doubts about 7. I would prefer a 5-6 year deal with an mutual option. I'm fine if the Cardinals have to pay more per year to do it, rather than be paying a 40 year old player 20 million plus a year. Devoting a big portion of a teams payroll to one player limits the moves you can make, and could keep a team from fixing other holes. Its workable if the player is still productive, but if he's not the team is in trouble.

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