It's Official - Pujols is on the decline

By Curtis Stelzer

Pittsburgh — On Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, the greedy one himself, St. Louis Cardinals 1st Baseman Albert Pujols hit his 30th homerun of the year – marking the 11th time in AP’s 11 year Hall of Fame career that he has hit 30 HR’s in a season.  But, this is going to be the 3rd year in a row that Albert’s numbers will have declined and don’t forget he is “supposedly” 31 years old.  I’m sorry Redbirds fans, but your numbers do not return to your career numbers once you get into your 30’s now that steroids are out of the game.  Barry Bonds is the only one to have had his numbers go up significantly in his mid to late 30’s…but hey – he says he didn’t use steroids (insert joke/laughter here).

Pujols’ batting averages from 2008-2011, .357, .327, .312, .287 so far in 2011.  That is 3 consecutive years of a declining BA and this year is a big drop off at this point.  Albert’s OBP from 2008-2011, .462, .443, .414, .352 so far in 2011.  That is not just a drop off…that is a significant drop from 2010 and it is more than .100 drop since 2008.  That is called being on the decline.  Albert’s slugging percentage in 2008 was .653 – this year? .541.  A drop of .122.  OPS in 2008 1.115 and this year .893.  Folks…Larussa has run this cherished organization into the decline so far, that the Redbirds are one or two bad signings away from St. Louis looking like the team from the 1970’s.  And if you don’t remember those years…just ask your Dad how bad those years were for Cardinals baseball.

The bad news is this.  Pujols is Larussa’s boy more than you know.  And if Larussa stays – you can bet your keester that Albert is going to get the long term contract he is looking for and if it really goes down…you can expect the rest of the 2010’s to be a very bad run of years for these Redbirds.  Yes, I know Shelby Miller is on the way, but how has the 2011 version of the Cardinals looked with only 2 quality arms taking the hill every 5th day?  Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia are the only 2 reliable starters right now – and Garcia has struggled since mid July.  To be honest the Cards are lucky to only be 7 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers.  Heck, has Milwaukee lost a game since the All Star break??  They are that hot.

Unless this team increases its payroll to around $150 Million, and if you know these owners of the Cardinals – that is definitely NOT going to happen.  Matt Holliday is getting $17 Million a year, Garcia just signed a reasonable extension of 4 years/$26 Million and they still need to resign Adam Wainwright.  I assume Waino will get an extension of $12-$15 Million a year and even if I go on the low end…Holliday, Garcia and Adam will get $36 Million a year and that is BEFORE Albert.  So if the Cardinals give $25 Million a year to a declining 1st Baseman that is only in it for himself (heck even if Pujols only gets $20 Million a year) – this team’s payroll will be so out of whack they will have a minimal chance of competing year in and year out.

The Cardinals payroll is usually between $100-$120 Million and if and when they extend AP – that will be 50% of the team’s payroll in 4 players.  Now do I think Albert will get paid?  Yes.  Someone will.  Is it going to be the Redbirds?  I honestly believe it all depends on Larussa coming back.  But there is no way Pujols should get $25M for 8-10 years.  I can see $20 Million for 4-5 years at MOST.

What Tony cares about most is getting face time on TV and proving to the world that bringing in situational lefties for 1 out as early as the 1st inning is the only way to manage.  How good will Larussa look if he would go to an organization that is absolutely horrible and turn them into a winner.

With that said,  I will leave you with this bombshell.  I honestly believe the uniform Tony Larussa AND Albert Pujols will be wearing in 2012 is…


Curtis Stelzer is the featured St. Louis Cardinals columnist for For daily updates, follow him on Twitter @Stelzy and join the fan page on Rant Sports MLB – St. Louis Cardinals


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