Prince Albert Taking His Legacy West - Angels Sign Pujols to 10 Year Contract
The Angels made headlines today, signing Albert Pujols to a 10 year pact worth upwards of $250 million. The contract rivals the ten year deal that Alex Rodriguez signed with the Rangers in 2000 which totaled $252 (but falls well short of the re-negotiated 10 year contract that A-Rod signed with the Yankees in 2007 which totaled $275 million). The Angels also acquired the top pitching free agent, inking C.J. Wilson to a five year deal worth about $75 million. We did pieces on both Pujols and Wilson and our estimates weren't that far off. At one time, Pujols was asking for a $300 million contract and given the fact that A-Rod got a $275 million deal at roughly the same age, I don't think those demands were unreasonable... unfathomable to think that a player could be worth that much but when you consider how much operating income franchises are bringing in and the value of franchise growth, as a whole, the key employees deserve to be rewarded (you don't like it, stop buying tickets and merchandise).
This move vaults the Angels into an elite status and sends a message to baseball that they're going for it. For years, they've been known as a franchise that delivers value. Their payroll is usually competitive, their team is always relevant and their farm is well run. These moves will no doubt elevate them from relevant to serious contender for at least the next five years.
Their 2012 rotation will anchor this team; Jered Weaver (finished top 5 in Cy Young voting in each of the past two seasons), C.J. Wilson (6th in Cy Young voting in 2011), Dan Haren (7th in Cy Young voting in 2011) and Ervin Santana will rival any staff in the AL, perhaps in the big leagues. The final two spots will be up for grabs - Jerome Williams and Garrett Richards are the favorites, at this point.
The real question, I believe, is whether Pujols is enough to lift the Angels lineup by himself. The Halos ranked among the bottom five in runs scored and boasted a .253 batting average. Kendry Morales still represents a huge question mark; he had a second surgery this off season on his ankle/leg after rehab stalled. With a healthy Morales and Pujols, the Angels will have no problem scoring runs. Without him, they will still need to figure out who will provide protection. The Angels also have a bevy of young talent to watch. With young players like Peter Bourjos, Mark Trumbo, Hank Conger and Mike Trout eager to earn their stripes, the Angels were one of those teams that everyone was planning on watching in spring training, anyway. Now, with the addition of Pujols, there is no way to ignore them. Here's my projected lineup
1. Peter Bourjos (CF) - too much speed to keep this kid out of the every day lineup
2. Howie Kendrick (2B) - could be in for a really nice season
3. Albert Pujols (1B) - best hitter bats third, right?
4. Kendry Morales (DH) - if he's back and if he's healthy, he probably slides in here
5. Mark Trumbo (3B) - led all rookies with 29 HR... Raw power, low average... They're working on converting him to third - this is the biggest question mark, in my mind. Can he play third?
6. Vernon Wells (LF) - can't move him. If he's dialed in, Wells could have a great season.
7. Torii Hunter (RF) - faithful and
8. Chris Iannetta - the Angels acquired Chris Iannetta so he's the likely starter but I think Conger could still earn a starting spot by midseason. Will be something to watch in ST.
9. Erick Aybar (SS) - slick defense and great on the base paths; turns the lineup over