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Pujols Wants to Remain a Cardinal for Life, But....

Migrant Redbird

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USA Today: Pujols: Strategy will determine future with Cards

Albert Pujols said Sunday that the St. Louis Cardinals' commitment to winning will dictate if he re-signs with the club when his contract expires in two years.

MLB.Com: Pujols hopes to end career in St. Louis

"People from other teams want to play in St. Louis and they're jealous that we're in St. Louis because the fans are unbelievable. So why would you want to leave a place like St. Louis to go somewhere else and make $3 or $4 more million a year? It's not about the money. I already got my money. It's about winning and that's it. It's about accomplishing my goal and my goal is to try to win. If this organization shifts the other way then I have to go the other way."

At the Winter Warm-Up last month, Pujols told reporters that he'd be amenable to discussing an extension now, but he also said he understands that it's a business and the team could trade him anytime.

In 2004, before Pujols signed his current $100M/8 year contract, he publicly stated that he wouldn't give the Cardinals a "home town discount". As it turns out, his contract was quite a discount, but he was giving up 3 years of arbitration, 4 years of free agency, and a club option for a 5th year.

On another front, the following story is almost 3 years old, but it kind of supports the thesis that Pujols is a unique player.

St. Louis Cardinals slugger Pujols gets Babe Ruth test at Washington University

Pujols visited Washington University in April [2006] to take part in a series of laboratory tests similar to those conducted on Babe Ruth on a summer afternoon in 1921 by a couple of graduate students at Columbia University.

.... The Pujols tests were conducted by faculty in the University's Department of Psychology in Arts & Sciences and in the School of Medicine, including Richard Abrams, Ph.D., professor of psychology; Desiree White, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology; David Balota, Ph.D., professor of psychology; and Catherine Lang, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical therapy, neurology and occupational therapy.

Pujols, like Ruth, was asked to demonstrate his hitting form while hooked up to various machines that monitored the strength and speed of his swing. Pujols, complaining of a strained back, may have "held himself back a bit" on some of the tests, but his results compared favorably with those of Ruth.

.... "Making exact comparisons between the Pujols and Ruth test results is difficult because the tests given to Ruth were not very well normed," suggests White. "But it's clear that both Ruth and Pujols performed well above average on a number of tests that are very similar in nature."

.... White, who administers these tests frequently as part of her research and clinical work, was especially surprised by Pujols' performance on two tests in particular, a finger-tapping exercise that measures gross motor performance and a letter cancellation task that measures ability to conduct rapid searches of the environment to locate a specific target.

.... Asked to depress a tapper with his index finger as many times as possible in 10 seconds, Pujols scored in the 99th percentile, a score almost identical to one earned by Ruth on a similar test of movement speed and endurance. White was impressed not only by Pujols' tapping speed (2.4 standard deviations faster than normal), but also by the fact that his performance kept improving after repeated trials.

"It was interesting that he actually tapped faster in later trials of the task, suggesting considerable stamina at a high level of performance," White noted. "Most people tap somewhat slower as the test progresses because their fingers and hands begin to fatigue."

.... Pujols' ability to move his eyes in response to visual stimuli was measured using a specialized video camera and an infrared light source, which tracked the exact location of his pupil and how long it takes him to move his eyes from one location to another.

In this test, Pujols was asked to make a single rapid eye movement (a "saccade") from a central fixation point to a peripheral target. In some trials, he was asked to look in the opposite direction - away from - the target when it appears, an "anti-saccade" movement.

"This task measures the speed of orienting the eye to visual targets and also the ability to inhibit the natural response to a stimulus and instead make the desired response, the anti-saccade movement," explains Abrams.

Pujols scored well above average on the saccade and anti saccade tests. His reaction time was 16 milliseconds faster than average for the saccades and 18 milliseconds faster than average for antisaccades.

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Some more news on Pujols, which everyone has probably already heard.

Pujols to skip WBC due to insurance issues

Albert Pujols still holds out hope of playing in the World Baseball Classic, but on Sunday the Cardinals slugger seemed resigned to the likelihood that he will have to miss the event.

Pujols underwent nerve transposition surgery in his right elbow in October. As a result of the operation, the underwriters of the classic are unwilling to insure the star for his participation. And Pujols acknowledged that if he can't be insured, he won't play for the Dominican Republic.

On a different note: How Good Is This Guy, Pujols?

Well, it really all depends upon his being able to remain healthy.

After eight full seasons in the major leagues at the age of 29, this may be a good time for a reassessment. A reasonable assumption might be that Pujols is at the midway point of a 16-year career. If, in the next eight years, he can duplicate what he has accomplished in his first eight years, he would wind up with the following numbers:

Category Value Rank Comments

Batting Average .334 23

On-Base Percentage .425 13

Slugging .624 4 Behind Ruth, Williams and Gehrig

OPS 1.049 5 Also behind Bonds.

Hits 3,062 19

Home Runs 638 5

RBIs 1,954 5

Of course, Pujols may not continue at this rate. The landscape is littered with players like Ron Santo, Jim Rice, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy and Roberto Alomar who appeared to be on the way to solid Hall of Fame careers but who suddenly lost their skills in their early thirties.

.... Pujols may extend his career beyond 16 years as many Hall of Fame players have done. This would enhance his counting stats (hits, home runs), probably with some deterioration of his rate stats.

The most remarkable aspect of Pujols’ career is his consistency. His lowest batting average in his eight years is .314 in 2002 and his lowest power numbers were in 2007 with 32 home runs and 103 RBIs. He has averaged 40 home runs and 122 RBIs in his eight years but has never led the league in either category. He has finished in the top four in the NL MVP voting in seven of his eight years but has won the award only twice.

Back to the original question of how good he is, Pujols should take his place in the top five along with Ruth, Williams, Gehrig and Bonds as possibly the best right-handed hitter of all time.

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