By now, if you have not heard that Albert Pujols is a Walt Disney Angel (10 yrs and $254 million)…you must have been somewhere dark and cut off from the outside world. Possibly the greater Cleveland area. My wife, who knows nothing of baseball, was devastated that she can no longer taunt me with the name Pujols (Poo Holes, as she intends it) 18 times a season. That aside, Albert taking the money and fleeing to the west coast is terrific news for Brewers nation. With him out of the picture, the Brewers odds of beating the Cardinals jumped up at least 25% (no actual math to back up that number). Although, not everything was glitter and sunshine last night into today.
Last night, to my surprise, Francisco Rodriguez accepted the Brewers arbitration offer. After all the bitching and moaning he did about being a set-up man, he has the testicular fortitude to return to the Crew in that role…for $13 million!!!
I can not blame him, it is a pretty sweet deal, but I am beyond stunned that he will be back with the Brewers for 2012. Clearly the market for closers with a history of violence and piss poor behavior was very small this year. After all his chatter about how he is a closer and only wants to be a closer, I am surprised that Scott “Satan” Boras did not make more of an effort to find him someplace to shut down games.
K-Rod and Axford will make up the scariest 8th and 9th inning duo in all of baseball, in my opinion. So, clearly this is not all bad. It will be really nice to know that if any of the starters can take a lead through 7 innings, the door will be slammed shut with authority. What pisses me off though, is that now the Brewers have virtually no money to fill other holes on the roster. Or so I thought….
Then word broke late this afternoon that the Brewers had filled their need for a shortstop, and it was not Yuniesky Betancourt. Alex Gonzalez is your newest Brewer shortstop (4th one in the last 4 years, if you are following along at home). Gonzalez is a 35 year old veteran shortstop, who is basically a shorter version of Betancourt at the plate. The Brewers never had a problem with Yuni B’s offensive production, they just wanted better defense and Gonzalez will give them that. While I do not have exact numbers, I can tell you that Gonzalez is far more of a run stopper than a run producer. Betancourt was neither, so is this an upgrade? I say, hell yes!! How many times did Yuni boot easy little grounders? Can you even count how many times you grunted after watching him throw a ball over Prince’s head? Alex Gonzalez will solidify a relatively pathetic defensive infield, that is the reason he is a Brewer.
The actual details of Gonzalez’s contract are still unknown, but it is believed to be a 1-year deal with a vesting option for a second season. This is a great signing because Gonzalez is a cheaper option than any of the other available shortstops on the market. A-Gonz will help curb some of that $13 million the Brewers will be paying K-Rod. Currently, Alex is inVenezuela, so the deal can not be made official until he flies in for a physical. It is generally believed that the deal will be announced next week.
It is hard to imagine the Brewers having enough money left over to acquire Aramis Ramirez, but I continue to hold out hope. Sadly, the Brewers do not have any secret drug money (Miami) or Mickey Mouse money(Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) laying around. However, Melvin and company have surprised me before. Maybe it would be worth opening up the budget a bit more to land a solid 3rd baseman with a ton of power. Last I heard, the Angels where the only other serious suitor for Ramirez aside from the Brewers. With all the money they threw around this morning, I would be stunned if they were able to add Ramirez as well. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that this can still happen.
Lou’s Podium Statement of the Month:
Today was very exciting, but truly one of the saddest days in sports history. Albert Pujols always seemed like he would be a Cardinal forever, right? The events of the last day and a half has made me realize that what the Brewers have in Ryan Braun is soooo special. There is no such thing as loyalty in baseball anymore. Back in the day, players would refuse to leave a city. The only way those guys were leaving was via trade. Money is the defining factor of the sport today, not loyalty. Ryan Braun is likely going to spend his entire career with the Brewers and we need to all take a second to acknowledge how amazing that is. I will never take Braun for granted, and neither should you if you are reading this. As fans, we just want our players to be as loyal as we are. In 2011, that is nothing more than a pipe dream. Be grateful that we have a guy in Ryan Braun who does not want to go anywhere else. In a way, my heart goes out to Cardinals fans. Baseball will never be the same after the events of this week, and it brings me great sorrow.