As we start the 5th season of the Albert Pujols era in Anaheim, we again start to ask ourselves the same questions. How will he return from this offseason surgery? Which Albert Pujols will we get this season? How much do the Angels still owe him? Is he going to live up to his contract? So on and so forth.
Pujols is going to be asked if he is going to be ready for the start of the season after having right-foot surgery this off-season the first day he talks to reporters. In true Pujols fashion he will assure us that he is confident that he will be ready by opening day. And he probably will be. Despite manager Mike Scioscia telling us today on the first day of spring training that the team is planning on going forward without Pujols at first base. That means if he is ready, he will more than likely be hitting in the designated hitter (DH) spot and that is in question too.
With Pujols out at first that moves CJ Cron to be the everyday first baseman. Cron is entering his third MLB season and has played in almost as many games at first base as he has at DH. Between the two years he has 96 games at DH and 94 games played at first with a .986 fielding percentage. Pujols in his career has 1640 games started just at first base with a .994 fielding percentage. Pujols out at first is kind of a big deal. He clearly has more experience and is much better with the glove than Cron has shown the past two years.
Needless to say, the Angels are not paying Albert Pujols 240 million dollars over the course of 10 years because of his glove. He was brought here to hit home runs and drive in runs. Before coming to Anaheim Albert Pujols was probably the most consistent and best player I have ever seen. I was only two years old when Ken Griffey Jr. came into the league and Mike Trout is on his way but isn’t there yet. After all he’s only entering his 5th season. Pujols was so consistent that he was coined with the moniker “The Machine”. Well fans, the machine is broken and it doesn’t look like there is a repair man to fix him and make him run like new again.
The man who had become as consistent as the Cubs not winning the World Series; has become as inconsistent as dial-up internet. Sometimes it was great but most of the time it didn’t even work. His batting average has fallen every year but it took a huge dive last season. His home runs jumped to 40 last season. 10 more than he had ever hit in his previous years with the Angels. 95 RBI is a decent amount for most players but still not Pujols-sque numbers. A lot of that through last season was due to guys not getting on base and when they did Trout cleaned a lot of them up instead.
Pujols last season is what Reggie Jackson was for his entire career, minus the overload of strikeouts Jackson used to accumulate. Pujols isn’t what he used to be and with all the injuries he never will be again. If he can keep jacking up 40 bombs a season though… I think we can all live with that. He probably won’t though.
So what Albert Pujols will we get this season? No idea, honestly. We might see a different Albert than we’ve ever seen before. Just remember to thank owner Arte Moreno if you see him. This bad contract of a former superstar and a couple others are the reason the Angels are in the position they are with the salary cap and not landing free agents that still might produce consistently.
Keep in mind also that from this point forward “The Broken Machine” will be getting a 1 million dollar raise every season. From 24 million last year to 25 million this year and all the way up to 30 million for the 2021 season.
Here’s to an early retirement party for Albert!