Albert Pujols never liked the “El Hombre” nickname while he was in St. Louis, but the Angels decided to use it on their billboards promoting his arrival without asking him and Pujols isn’t happy.
Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles reports that there are 20 billboards around Southern California with the “El Hombre” nickname and Pujols’ picture (you can see a snapshot by clicking here).
Pujols explained in the past that he didn’t like the nickname because Stan Musial was “The Man” in St. Louis, and he reiterated that point to Saxon:
Like I say, I haven’t talked to them, but I prefer not to use that. I still have the same respect for him as I had, not just for what he’s done in baseball but for what he did for his country. That’s something you have to appreciate.
As someone who generally wishes there were more quality nicknames in baseball these days I’m sad that something as cool-sounding as “El Hombre” isn’t fine with Pujols, but it’s certainly reasonable and it sure seems weird that the Angels weren’t aware of the situation before posting the billboards.
Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio is reporting that Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto has requested a trade out of Miami. Jon Heyman is characterizing it as Realmuto telling the team that he “wouldn’t mind” a trade.
Either way, Realmuto has no power to force a trade. This isn’t the NBA or something. Still, it’s evidence of just how dreary a prospect remaining in Miami is for Marlins veterans in the wake of trades that sent Giancarlo Stanton to New York, Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis.
Realmuto, who will turn 27 just before the 2018 season, hit .278/.332/.451 with 17 homers, 65 RBI, and eight steals over 141 games this past season. He only has three years of service time and is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. He made just $562K in the 2017 and will get a big raise this year, but he’s still going to be underpaid based on his production. If the Marlins wanted to trade him, they’d get a nice return. Why they would want to trade him, I have no idea.
Expect more of this sort of thing as the Marlins slash payroll and make it clear that their immediate priorities are more about saving money and less about winning baseball games. Which may or may not be a valid goal for the team’s new owners, but is certainly a letdown for baseball players and fans.