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“Wow.” That’s what Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said after hearing Thursday that St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was leaving the World Series champs for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Cashman, whose team shelled out $275 million for Alex Rodriguez in 2007, is well versed in big money contracts, but the Angels’ $254 million,10-year deal with Pujols left Cashman downright speechless. (Pujois’ deal is the second-most expensive pact in major league baseball after Rodriguez’s.)
In the media, however, the Angels’ announcement during baseball winter meetings in Dallas elicited strong responses.
Pujols’ departure earned its own mini-section in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, leading with the headline “Pujols Walks Away From Cardinals.” Joe Strauss wrote in the lead story, “The Los Angeles Angels accomplished in less than two days what the Cardinals failed to transact in two years by signing three-time National League MVP Albert Pujols to a contract that will run through the remainder of a Hall of Fame career.”
Strauss added that it was “a jarring week for a team that celebrated its 11th World Series championship five weeks ago ended with the loss of the franchise’s signature player, no significant additions and only hours after the Houston Astros hired vice-president of scouting and player development Jeff Luhnow to become their general manager.”
CBSSports.com columnist Scott Miller wrote of the sour taste the deal leaves St. Louis, “In many quarters of St. Louis, Pujols no doubt will move from franchise icon and certain Hall of Famer to greedy mercenary. From a man who always said it wasn’t about the money to just another shifty — albeit sensational — player who is here one day and gone the next.”‘
FoxSports’ Mark Kriegel noted that Angels owner Arte Moreno is a definite winner in the transaction, “Angels owner Arte Moreno showed a lot of stones here. Too many owners think like welfare cheats. The Angels have made some mistakes (dumping Mike Napoli, trading for Vernon Wells), but Moreno is now making good on those debts with his fans.”
Kriegel also wrote that the move is in line with Pujols’ preference to remain out of the spotlight, “The Angels have a big-market budget, but they’re the second team in their market. That translates into less pressure and scrutiny, something you figure Pujols would like.”
In a good news/bad news analysis of the deal, Gannett’s Mike Lopresti said, “Good news for the Angels. Glamour, buzz, and a certain future Hall of Famer who should be able to tap southern California’s enormous Hispanic market. A dramatic signing worthy of Hollywood. Bad news for Mike Matheny. How’s this for making life tough on the new guy? First, he has to fill Tony La Russa’s managerial cleats. Now, he has to do it without Albert Pujols.
“The 2011 Cardinals became renowned for overcoming hardship. Matheny can only hope that knack remains, because now there’s a hole in the lineup large enough for the Gateway Arch.”
The Angels’ spending spree also included a $77.5 million contract with pitcher C.J. Wilson, which in the words of the Los Angeles Times‘ Evan Barnes, turns the team from “little brother status [to the Dodgers] to the kings of Southern California.”
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