Cardinals GM John Mozeliak Knew the Chances of Re-signing Albert Pujols were Slim, Confirms St. Louis not in Prince Fielder SweepstakesDecember 12, 2011 – 6:30 am by Steven Cuce
It may be hard for St.Louis Cardinals fans fans to realize this, but John Mozeliak made the right decision in not giving Albert Pujols the absurd contract he got from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball and was a big reason for why the Cards won two World Series championships during his time in St.Louis, but Mozeliak had to think of the long term future of this ball club.
Now with that being said will it be hard this year for Cardinals fans to come to ball park? You bet it will be. Who are you paying to go watch now? Matt Holliday? Lance Berkman? Those are two fine baseball players, but no one will match the iconic status that Pujols had. The Cardinals are not in a large market and do not have the kind of money coming from a television contract that the Angels, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox or Phillies do. The Cardinals are a team that has to make sound financial decisions and as hard as this pill is to swallow they couldn’t afford to give Pujols a contract of 10-years and $254 million. It would have crippled the franchise.
John Mozeliak joined KFNS in St.Louis with The Press Box to discuss his emotions the moment he found out that Albert Pujols signed with the Angels, Albert Pujols feeling slighted by the Cardinals even before the free agency period began, Dan Lozano expressing that the Cardinals should have signed Albert Pujols over the last few years before he hit free agency, the strategy the Cards went about in free agency to try to re-sign Albert Pujols, the idea of giving Albert Pujols a contract that no other player would ever get, and being out of the Prince Fielder sweepstakes.
Take us through the moment you got the news that Albert Pujols signed with the Angels. What happened right afterwards?
“When I found out yesterday morning my first reaction was disappointment and I spent 15-20 minutes on the phone with the agent [Dan Lozano] and we just talked about all the different things that transpired in the process. It was a very professional call. It wasn’t me trying to change gears or throw something else out there. I respect their decision and understood there was a lot of finality in that call. Once that call ended I then proceeded to reach out to Bill [DeWitt Jr.] to let him know and then I was hoping to go down to the Rule 5 draft, but as I was getting organized it started to leak. It was starting to become a very big news story as you could imagine. I packed up, hopped in a cab and went to the airport.”
Did you ever sense that Albert Pujols felt slighted because a deal wasn’t reach before the regular season last year? Was there any ill will going into this?
“I don’t think it’s fair for me to speak for him or on his behalf. I can tell you anytime you are engaging in a negotiation tensions can raise. I think emotionally it’s hard to detach yourself from it. It’s almost impossible not to take things personally, but I don’t want to answer for him. I can tell you how I felt through the whole thing if you want to know that, but I don’t know if that’s relevant.”
Did Dan Lozano [Albert Pujols's agent] ever express that the Cardinals blew it and should have signed his client before it came to this?
“Not specifically like that. No. In terms of being told his client may not like this or something like that? You hear that all the time. That’s sort of like ‘agenting 101.’ Is that suppose to scare you into making a bad decision? The thing you have to do and maintain when you engage in this type of process is understand how you want to make a value judgement. If you are right or wrong time will tell, but it’s not something where you can make decisions strictly on emotions or try to appease emotions.”
In a bad economy with a superstar who had his statistics slip did you and Bill DeWitt Jr. have the idea that you wanted Albert Pujols back, but did you want to have him set the market? Did you want to come out of the gates with a flabbergasting offer or did you want to see what the market established first?
“Our game plan really was try to never let him hit the market last year. When that didn’t work ultimately we had to be reactionary to what was going on, but we knew…we always knew that if it was simply where player ‘X’ gets into market and it’s the highest dollars we are not going to be players in that. It’s just not something that our market is going to allow us to do. A lot of people are going to sit there and criticize us for that, but on the same token we want to make sure we can still put a team out there and have the right players to compliment as we move forward. A player of his ilk, an iconic player, he’s going to command a lot of money on the market and he did.”
Did you guys look at each other in the room and think we wouldn’t give out a huge deal like this to anyone else but Albert Pujols?
“Yes. Yes. Multiple times.”
Can we safely assume you will not be in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes?
“That’s a safe assumption.”