The Angels wanted Pujols bad enough in the offseason after 2011 to give him a 10-year contract worth $240 million. The Cardinals did enough to make it look like they wanted to keep their slugger at such a high price, but in the end they didn't top the offer. He walked.
And somehow ... St. Louis is way better off for it?
Pujols had a solid but unspectacular first season with the Angels. He was hurt for a good chunk of 2013 and looks to be a shell of his former self. The Angels are a total of 5 games over .500 in the past two seasons combined, with zero playoff appearances.
The Cardinals? Well, they took Michael Wacha with the compensatory pick gained by letting Pujols go. He is yet another great young pitcher for the Cardinals, and after being named NLCS MVP he pitched well in helping St. Louis even the World Series at a game apiece last night.
And it was another reminder that if you are looking for an organization to emulate, Twins fans, please look south at the Cardinals. Their payroll generally gives them enough flexibility to spend without getting out of whack -- normally somewhere in the $95-110 million range, where the Twins' should be during competitive seasons. They make shrewd decisions. And the deftly combine player acquisitions with player development.
Now, we're not suggesting the Twins necessarily should have pulled a Pujols with Joe Mauer a few years back. Mauer's ultimate contract was worth about the same annually as Pujols' was ($23 million vs. $24 million), but he plays a more valuable position, he was 28 going into the first year of it vs. 32 for Pujols, and his deal was for 8 instead of 10 seasons.
We are saying that if the Twins hope to return to relevance, the roster makeup in St. Louis is the one to emulate. Pay to keep your stars but don't overpay. Supplement with cheap young talent and valued free agents. Make trades that make sense. It sounds easy. It obviously isn't, but it is the way out of this hole here in Minnesota. Make the "Twins Way" the "Cardinals Way" and all will be well.