Are the Cardinals in deep trouble if they don’t lock Pujols up before spring training?

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Anthony Castrovince on the Albert Pujols situation:

But if Pujols’ long-term status remains uncertain going into and through the season, then the drama surrounding the situation could easily eclipse the circus involving Jeter and the Yanks earlier this winter. Because with Pujols, we’re talking about the game’s premier player. In his prime. And while the Yankees and Red Sox, by virtue of already possessing Mark Teixeira and Adrian Gonzalez, respectively, probably wouldn’t be bidders, every other team in the game with money to spend would be circling over Pujols, ready to pounce.

I think the Cardinals should lock up Pujols and everything, but really, is it as dire as many say?  With the Yankees and Red Sox out of it, every other team may be “ready to pounce,” but it also means that the two teams most likely to overpay Pujols are out of it too.  Put differently, the Cardinals don’t have to worry too much about being outbid by anyone if, for some reason, Pujols makes it to free agency after the 2011 season, nor do they have to worry about there being some more notable historically prominent team competing for his services.

I wouldn’t want to wait around if I were the Cardinals — what if Adrian Gonzalez breaks his arm tomorrow and doesn’t re-up with the Red Sox as expected? — but it doesn’t seem like they’d face some dire situation if Pujols does hit the market and other teams start sniffing around. They’d still be the biggest dog and most friendly landing pad for Pujols. They don’t stand to be bidding against anyone with a significantly bigger budget.  They could still get it done just fine.

Howie Kendrick to undergo an MRI after exiting game with a serious leg injury

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Update, 7:49 PM ET: The Nationals placed Howie Kendrick on the 10-day disabled list with a right Achilles injury. In a corresponding move, right-hander Jefry Rodriguez was recalled from Double-A Potomac.

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Nationals left fielder Howie Kendrick was removed from the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Dodgers after injuring his right leg. In the eighth inning, Kendrick tracked a Max Muncy sac fly to the wall, but landed strangely on his right leg and fell to the ground. Unable to put weight on it, he was forced to exit the field on a cart and was sent to undergo an MRI soon afterward, the results of which have yet to be revealed.

While the Nationals have not specified the nature or severity of Kendrick’s injury, Martinez revealed that it’s located in the “lower part” of the outfielder’s leg and appears to be quite severe. He’ll likely be placed on the 10-day disabled list in the next couple of days, though the recovery process could take even longer.

Prior to the incident, Kendrick was off to a hot start this season. Entering Saturday’s doubleheader, he carried a batting line of .302/.331/.477 with 18 extra-base hits and an .808 OPS in 157 plate appearances. He went 1-for-3 on Saturday with a base hit in the seventh inning. Andrew Stevenson subbed in for Kendrick following the injury and has been tabbed to start in left field for the second game of the doubleheader at 8:05 PM ET.