Albert Pujols

Could the Cardinals survive without Albert Pujols?

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Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks so:

The St. Louis Cardinals ranked among Major League Baseball’s most successful franchises before Albert Pujols arrived.

And the Cardinals will remain prosperous long after the Pujols Era finally ends, however it ends.

Baseball is bigger than one player around here. It always has been, it always will be – despite perceptions outside the market … The franchise has locked in other star players, like former batting champ Matt Holliday, former Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter and former World Series hero Adam Wainwright. Given their durable fan support, the Cards would be able to redistribute the money Albert rejects to other high-end players.

Life would go on.  St. Louis isn’t Cleveland. The Cardinals aren’t the Cavaliers. And Albert Pujols isn’t LeBron James.

On a very basic level he’s correct. But on a very basic level I would survive without Internet access, beer, television, books and steak.  If you reduce any question to “can we survive without it,” the only must-haves are food, water and shelter. And maybe Internet access.

The question facing John Mozeliak isn’t about the Cardinals’ survival. It’s about taking the best course given the options currently at their disposal. The costs and benefits of letting Pujols go versus the costs and benefits of keeping him.  And I don’t know how one can conclude that the Cardinals letting Pujols go would benefit the team. At all.  Maybe it would be different if the Cards were a struggling organization, but they are quite clearly not.

Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball. While the Cardinals have one of the richest histories in all of baseball, they have never lost a player of his caliber. They shouldn’t start testing the fanbase by doing so now.

 

Yordano Ventura’s remaining contract hinges on the results of his toxicology report

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.

What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.

The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.

Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.

Spring training will be slightly shortened in 2018

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 15:  General view of action between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants during the spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The A's defeated the Giants 8-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Associated Press is reporting that the spring training schedule will be shortened by two days starting in 2018. That change comes as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, which was agreed to last month.

Specifically, the voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers, and injured players has been changed to 43 days before the start of the regular season, down from 45. For the rest of the players, the reporting date is 38 days before the start of the regular season, down from 40.

The change goes hand-in-hand with allowing teams 187 days, rather than 183, to complete their 162-game regular season schedule.

While just about everyone seems to be in agreement that the spring training exhibition schedule is too long, team owners are likely very hesitant to shorten that part of the spring schedule because it would cost them money. So they’re just allowing players to arrive to camp a couple of days later.