Even as we watch two hated teams battle it out for the honor of losing the World Series,* many Cub fans have an eye on the first basemen of both squads as the two men are looking at massive contracts on the free agency market come November. Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols may very well bring their HoF-caliber bats to the north side in 2012 and beyond. Except... is that what we want? Really?
(*gawd, at least I hope so)
I acknowledge that there is a part of me that'd love nothing more than to see Albert Pujols spend his declining years in a Cubs uniform, if only to stick it to the Cardinals fans who think there's nothing better in the world than mocking the Cubs and selling their food stamps for .50 on the dollar for which to score some meth. I also acknowledge that the 2012 Cubs offense looks less like a major league team and more like a group of American Legion castoffs, and the presence of either player very well might make the difference between last place and 3rd place. But aren't you just a little tired of big, ridiculous contracts by now?
I don't blame Cub fans for wanting these guys. Pujols is, as much as I hate to say it, the greatest player of our generation yet to be tainted with the association of steroids. (I believe it's just a matter of time on that front, however.) In 11 years, the slugger has blasted 445 homeruns, batted .328, notched 2073 hits, he has a career OPS of 1.067 - a career OPS of 1.067! - hell, that asshole has even stolen 84 bases - including 39 in the last 3 seasons.
Fielder, meanwhile,will only be 28 next year. He's averaged 40 homeruns in the past 5 seasons and has been shockingly healthy for a man his girth. Not to mention it's pretty evident that he comes by his prowess naturally. I must admit, Prince Fielder makes for a very interesting free agent.
But here are the problems with these guys...
Both of these sluggers will be seeking massive contracts. If Albert Pujols doesn't deserve A-Rod money, then he comes closest of any player active in the Major Leagues today - including A-Rod himself. If he doesn't end up a contract of 7-or-more years for 200-or-more million dollars, then he needs to fire his agent. This despite the fact that, just like Soriano before him, he realistically is not going to earn that massive contract after the 4th or 5th season.
Fielder, on the other hand, is the same approximate height as myself. He's listed at 5'11 in a game where it isn't unheard of to tack a few inches onto a player's listed height. His listed weight is 275 pounds, in a game where it isn't unheard of to slice a few pounds off of a player's listed weight. I once weighed 275 pounds, about 10 years ago. I was ridiculously overweight and looked it. It was unhealthy. Granted, I wasn't a professional athlete but I have to believe that it's just not likely that a guy can be as short as Prince and as heavy as I used to be and succeed at the Major League level into his 30's. So here's the question - will Prince be seeking a shorter contract with the hope of landing one more even bigger payday before he starts his decline, or will he be looking for 7+ years and 20+ million?
If either of these players would seek a contract for 4 years or less, they might be worth pursuing. But if both of these guys end up looking for that massive, 7-year, I-could-buy-my-own-private-island-when-I-retire contract, then the Cubs need to stay away. It's not that I oppose huge I-could-kill-a-man-and-buy-my-freedom contracts, it's just that their shelf lives tend to be much shorter than their actual end-dates. So maybe the Cubs should avoid passing out these ridiculous deals until they are actually in a strong position to compete for 3 or 4 years.
It's just a thought, anyway - perhaps it's a crazy one.