(copied and posted from the website of the San Francisco Post …)
Jim Edmonds, long-time center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, has a bit of advice for his former teammate and current franchise slugger, Albert Pujols.
“I just told him not to commit to anything too soon,” said Edmonds during a brief appearance at a charity bowling tournament for underprivileged youth. “Look around, first…let your agents get a feel for the market. St. Louis is a great city to play in, but it’s not the only baseball city in the country. And you only get one chance to sign the biggest contract of your career.”
The former slugging outfielder for the Redbirds finished his career with a .284 batting average, 382 home runs, and 1,176 RBIs…but he is perhaps best known for his 8 Gold Glove awards in the field. Considered one of the premiere center fielders in the game for years, Edmonds says he “misses it,” but he’s doing his best to enjoy his “gradual slide” into retirement.
“Yeah, it’s tough…but I’ve been trying to find ways to keep myself busy. I have a family, a restaraunt…and I still try to find ways to stay involved with the game.”
Involved for Edmonds means keeping in touch with friends from his “former life” to offer support, encouragement…and in the case of Albert Pujols, a bit of advice.
“I told him not to rule out the Cubs,” said Edmonds. “I enjoyed my years as a Cardinal, but I finished my career as a Cub…and that organization gave me an opportunity where other teams didn’t. I think he has to consider that.”
When asked about the fan backlash Edmonds endured from “Cardinal Nation” for switching his allegiance, Edmonds replied, “They didn’t seem that upset when I won a World Series [for them].”
The Cubs, as most are aware, are in the midst of a lengthy and grueling turnover process, and Edmonds believes that process is a perfect opportunity for a player like Pujols to “cash in.”
“Look, a lot of guys up there like Derrick Lee…and they respect what he’s done for them in the past…but he hasn’t been the player he was the year he challenged [Albert Pujols] for the batting title. Not even close. I think a guy like Albert could take advantage of a very real opportunity and make some real money.
Unsaid is the fact that the Chicago market stands a better chance of supporting the imposing contract figures being thrown around by most analysts when discussing Pujols’ future salary…a much better chance than Pujols’ current economically strapped St. Louis market.
“Sure he’s gonna’ cost a lot of money…so does Manny Ramirez or Alex Rodriguez…but those guys are worth it. What they do on the field is irreplaceable. And it seems to me like the new owners [of the Cubs] are looking to make a splash with the fans. I think it could work.”
Irreplaceable is a word the St. Louis Cardinals’ front office is loathe to use when discussing the Pujols contract situation. They do, however, use names…names like Brett Wallace or Colby Rasmus. In fact, when asked about Edmonds’ recent advice that Albert sign with the Cubs when his tenure in St. Louis comes to an end, Cardinals’ General Manager John Mozeliak used both names in the same sentence.
“I think however it turns out, we’ll be fine,” said Mozeliak. “With guys like Wallace and Rasmus in the organization, the Cardinals are going to be a strong force in the National League for years to come. But, obviously we’re disappointed in Jim’s comments.”
“However it turns out” is beginning to sound like the company line when it comes to the Pujols contract negotiations (or lack thereof…), but one thing is all too clear…when Edmonds speaks, Pujols listens.
“I love being a Cardinal,” said Pujols, “But I respect Jimmy. We played a lot of years together…we won a championship together. He’s played in a lot of cities. I’ve only played for one. It only makes sense for me to listen when he offers advice.”
In the end, however, Pujols acknowledges it’s not up to him.
“I just put it in God’s hands, you know. If He wants me to be a Cardinal, I’ll be a Cardinal. If he wants me to be a Cub, I’ll be a Cub. I have a lot of respect for that organization. Lou is a good manager. He does things right.”
Albert Pujols’ tenure in St. Louis is not over yet, but many within the organization can read the writing on the wall. Reports of the first baseman’s irritation over the team’s unwillingness to negotiate a new contract before the current one is up are slowly leaking out of the front office, and it appears the situation could now lead to the “Jay Cutler” treatment of secretly shopping the player to other teams – a more palatable option than losing him in free agency to a division rival.
Regardless of “how it turns out,” only one person is willing to “put his money where his mouth is” and make a prediction. Jim Edmonds.
“When it comes down to it, I think he’s going to Chicago. He’s going to be a Cub. I would bet on it.”
(um…go cards???? what the hell…???)
oh yeah…April Fools.