Albert Pujols is $240 million dollars richer playing for his new red jerseyed team, and he’s got a lot more leisure time this October to spend that money. The Angels were pre-season favorites to win the Series after inking Pujols to a 10 year deal, but it’s the Cardinals who were still playing in late October without one of the best players ever.
He didn’t start his Angels career very well, going the longest streak of his career without a homerun to start the year. And it wasn’t like he was tearing it up in other departments. He only had 5 RBIs through the first 27 games of the season. Fans were starting to wonder if Pujols’ neighbor in Orange County was Vernon Wells.
But when the red clay in the infield settled, he still had 30 HR and 105 RBI for the season. It is a huge disappointment that Pujols couldn’t lead the Angels to the playoffs, but then he still has 9 years to get the job done in Anaheim.
Pujols is the most important player on the Angels, but he left plenty to be desired despite the good numbers. For starters, he was only the 3rd best player on the Angels roster. Mike Trout and Jered Weaver had MVP and Cy Young seasons. But Pujols is more important because of how much the Angels have staked in him. The team’s name should be changed again to the “Los Angeles Angels of Albert Pujols.” “El Hombre” is here to stay. Paying for Pujols was about as far from a gamble as there is, but the Pujols signing is the most important for the Angels because it has to work. He is not going anywhere.
Just by going through his normal routine he could do it by example, but Pujols needs to be more of a leader with the club. It is difficult to be a vocal leader in a new clubhouse, but the more invested and involved Albert Pujols is the better. The language barrier isn’t an excuse either since his English is very good having lived and played in the US for so long.
The Angels front office has got to be concerned that the team they put on the field did not make the playoffs. But their biggest worry in the next ten years is if Pujols got busted for steroids. There is no proof he has, and not many accusations either. Pujols has been squeaky clean, and right now is the poster-child for a clean game of baseball. Lance Armstrong never tested positive either though, and now technology and testimony have caught up with him.
That would tear apart the franchise, and the huge investment they made in Pujols, far beyond the on the field production, they would lose. It didn’t kill A-Rod’s career, or Barry Bonds’; but it’s trying to ruin Roger Clemens’. The Angels don’t have the history that the Yankees do to rebound from that taboo thing that everybody’s doing anyway.
Pujols is big enough to bridge the gap between Orange County and LA when it comes to media attention, although it didn’t help the Angels local TV numbers much. Which is why the usually undisputed best player in the Majors is only the 13th most important person in sports in Los Angeles, on its outskirts in Orange County. But as Pujols realizes, there’s always next year, and the 8 years after that.
Congrats to Albert Pujols, the Biggest fish in the pond of St. Louis who moved to the ocean and is the 13th Most Important Fish in Sports in LA Today.