I would generally leave this for one of TBDS' Cardinals experts, but one's on vacation and I sent the other on assignment to figure out what teams were really doing with their NBA Draft picks.
So here we are, on June 16, 2009, with the St. Louis Cardinals one game behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers (no, that is not a typo) and while things might be all peachy right now, there is a storm cloud off in the distance that just might make the Arch tremble.
Albert Pujols could become a free-agent in 2011. And to be real honest, Pujols leaving St. Louis would not only be on the same level as if LeBron James left Cleveland, dare I say it might trump it. The scariest thing about the situation is that there is a distinct possibility that it might happen.
Tony LaRussa is managing his last year of his contract and there have been no signs of an extension. In fact, there have been more signs of LaRussa pointing out the door as personal favorites such as Aaron Miles, David Eckstein and other vertically challenged scrappy middle-infielder types have been given their walking papers in recent years.
Add to that a new-look front office which features GM John Mozeliak who is having one heckuva time trying to balance the new way of doing things while also trying to appease a manager who has been with the organization for 13 years.
It is quite the tightrope the man named "Mo" is walking.
Somewhere, Fredbird Nation echoes the sentiments TLR must have right now as the red-clad gang shouts "Where, oh, where are the re-inforcements?" while seemingly trapped high atop a castle somewhere. On the other hand, the Cardinal front office treis to rebuild what former GM Walt Jocketty burned to the ground long ago: the minor league system.
Re-inforcements are coming (eventually) as St. Louis tries to re-stock the barren land once known as a prolific farm system that produced solid arms, power bats and nagging, fleet-footed base runners.
However, one must ask if it will be enough to keep LaRussa around for a few more years. And if the sunglasses-at-night-wearing, Twitter-hater wants no part of a rebuild-on-the-fly routine in which everything is centered around Albert The Great, what would that mean for the long run.
LaRussa is the only manager Pujols has known at the Major League level, and if he sees that marginal minor league talent surrounds him, how long will it be before he goes on YouTube and tells the world to go buy a Yankees jersey or something.
Parish the thought!
Want more of a scare, Cardinal Nation? Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee becomes a free-agent after the 2010 season.
If prospective Tom Ricketts could only find the other $400 million necessary to buy the team by the time the free-agency market opens up, there is not a doubt in my mind that the life-long Cubs fan would not mind one bit to stick it in the craw of the North Siders' chief division rivals by handing baseball's best player a blank check and an invitation to the third largest media market.
Bernie Miklasz is on point. Tie him up now, or possibly test fate ... and the open market.
Start Now To Keep Pujols On The Payroll [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]