With reports coming out that the Cardinals and Albert Pujols will not reach a deal before their spring training deadline today, the Cardinals head into the season with uncertainty regarding the best player in baseball.

The Cardinals still have time to lock him up to a long-term deal despite missing this artificial deadline. They still have till after the World Series to do something with him, but this situation shouldn’t be where it’s at. Sometimes with special players, a team just needs to man up and pay the man what he wants.

Pujols is the best hitter in the game and has been for the past four to five years. I wrote about just how great he is last April. He’s shown zero evidence that he’s about to decline, quite the opposite actually as he continues to get better and put up ridiculous numbers year in and year out. Not to mention since his debut in 2001, he’s never missed any significant time with an injury, averaging 155.8 games played a year. He’s helped lead St. Louis to two World Series appearances in his 10-year career, including a championship in 2006. He’s already a future Hall of Famer and most likely on his way to being one of the greatest top 5 hitters in MLB history. Seriously. Those kinds of players do not come around every five years. The Cardinals need to bite the bullet and show him the money before they risk losing him to another bidder.

The situation got a little strange once Tony LaRussa decided to cast his opinion on the negotiations and state the Albert is feeling a lot of pressure from the players union to sign an enormous deal. Once again LaGenius should have just kept his mouth shut because he’s off base here with no proof of everything. The union has since denied that saying there have been no contract by them and Pujols during these talks, and I don’t believe that Pujols is even thinking about them at the moment. He should be thinking about himself, his family and where he wants to spend his future and the rest of his career. That’s it. He would be foolish to be thinking about anything else at this point.

Ken Rosenthal seems to think a trade is a real possibility that could see Pujols end up with the Yankees for Mark Teixeira or with the Phillies for Ryan Howard. He gives a disclaimer prior to his article that this is pure speculation on his part, and it really is because the Cards are not going to trade Pujols to anyone. Apparently Rosenthal was bored over the stalemate in these talks so he decided to make up some fun to get fans attention. The Cardinals would never get enough return that equals what Pujols means to their team. Second, the fallout from the fan base for not locking him out for 8-10 years and trading him away would not be very kind from a city that loves its baseball. Plus Albert has already stated that he would invoke his ten-and-five rights to veto any deal, so let’s debunk this idea right now.

In the end, I think the Cardinals will still lock Pujols up for years and try to make him the one team kind of player. I think this stalemate will last until after the season since Pujols has stated he won’t discuss a deal during the season, but eventually the Cards will wise up or break down and pay the man. Though letting the artificial deadline pass today and heading into a year of uncertainly should be a little worrisome for Cardinals nation because you just never know what can happen throughout a season of baseball especially if a player feels slighted by a franchise that he’s given everything to throughout his career.

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