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.

 

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Reds 5, Pirates 4: Austin Meadows continues to mash the ball, crushing his fourth home run of the season on a three-hit afternoon. The homer cut the Pirates’ deficit to one run against Amir Garrett in the top of the ninth inning, but it wasn’t enough. Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez both went yard for the Reds. Suarez’s was a grand slam:

Angels 8, Blue Jays 1: The Angels chased Marco Estrada in the fifth inning, scoring four runs off of him, including one on a solo home run from Mike Trout that got the right bounce on top of the wall in left-center field.

Albert Pujols picked up a pair of hits, giving him 3,015 in his career. One of those hits was a solo homer, giving him 621 on the career. His next targets on the all-time list are Rafael Palmeiro for hits (28th; 3,020) and Ken Griffey, Jr. for homers (sixth, 630).

Orioles 9, White Sox 3: Dylan Bundy went the distance, giving up three runs on two hits and a walk with a career-high 14 strikeouts. Bundy threw 121 pitches, the most he’s thrown in a game since shutting out the Mariners on August 29 last year. All three runs scored on a home run by Jose Rondon in the fourth inning. Adam Jones homered on a three-hit afternoon. Manny Machado also picked up three hits of his own. Trey Mancini hit a solo shot of his own off of Lucas Giolito, who owns an ugly 7.53 ERA on the year.

Athletics 4, Mariners 3: The A’s scored all four of their runs against Felix Hernandez in the first inning. Hernandez settled down from there, but it proved to be just too much. He gave up the four runs on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts over six innings. The former Cy Young Award winner now owns a 5.58 ERA on the season. Jean Segura had three hits for the Mariners, raising his average to a lusty .317. This was essentially a bullpen day for the A’s, who used three pitchers to get through the first seven innings. Blake Treinen got the final four outs to seal the deal, staving off a series sweep in Seattle.

Astros 8, Indians 2: Alex Bregman was the star of this one, hitting a go-ahead three-run homer in the fifth inning, then adding an RBI double in the Astros’ five-run sixth. George Springer reached base four times and Jake Marisnick had three RBI. Charlie Morton held the Indians to two runs over six innings, which caused his ERA to go all the way up to 2.04. That, by the way, is the third-worst ERA in the Astros’ rotation behind Justin Verlander (1.08) and Gerrit Cole (1.86).

Rays 6, Red Sox 3: Wilson Ramos returned to the lineup, contributing three hits and a pair of RBI. Blake Snell struck out eight Red Sox over six shutout innings, yielding only three hits and two walks. Rick Porcello had a rough night, failing to exit the fourth after surrendering six runs (four earned).

Royals 8, Rangers 1: Salvador Perez had a pair of run-scoring singles. Ramon Torres, appearing in his first major league game this season, scored a couple of runs for the Royals on this little league home run:

Danny Duffy limited the Rangers to one run on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings. The outing helped lower his ERA to 6.14.

Mets 5, Brewers 0: Steven Matz fired six shutout frames, limiting the Brewers to four hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Brandon Nimmo reached base five times, doubling twice with a walk and a triple. Adrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores picked up a pair of RBI each.