Hardly content with acquiring Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Ozzie Guillen, the Miami Marlins have reportedly dangled a ten-year, more-money-than-God offer in front of free agent Albert Pujols, an option the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bernie Miklasz admits represents the iconic first baseman’s “chance to determine his future on his terms”. But while Miklasz insists he’d be “reluctant to demonize either side”, he’s also quick to point out, “(Pujols) has said that winning is the top priority. A move to Miami would obviously contradict all of those declarations.”
The only way I’d change my opinion — and cast blame — is if Pujols walks from a deal that puts the Cardinals close to whatever it is that the Marlins are offering. If it’s close, without much difference (relatively speaking) in money, why would he leave? It would expose him as a phony given all of his previous statements about wanting to be here forever.
Pujols should be very careful in assessing the Marlins. For starters, the new ballpark in Miami will be huge. Some already are comparing the place to Petco Park in San Diego, which dramatically reduces a hitter’s power numbers. Second, the Marlins are thin on starting pitching. Third, the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) is investigating the financing of the Marlins’ new ballpark, a project that may have set some sort of unofficial U.S. record for swindling taxpayers. No. 3, the Marlins certainly look like they’re trying to win now, having given rich deals to Reyes and closer Bell. But the Marlins are flush in new-stadium money, and they are obviously itching to spend it. The fan support would be superb for a while, because of the new yard and the team’s free-agent shopping spree. But what will the scene look like in three or four years when the novelty wears off? What happens if the team’s moody owner sees the crowd-numbers thin, changes his mind, and orders up a dramatic slashing of payroll? There is stability and a history consistent winning and passionate fan support in St. Louis. And does Pujols really want to be seen in those clown costumes that serve as the Marlins’ new uniforms?