Undercover Angel

8 12 2011

The Los Angeles Angels just moved past the Marlins for most hyped team in the league (I guess South Beach just isn’t big enough for two extremely hyped franchises).

ESPN the Magazine’s Buster Olney has been told by his sources that valuable free agent Albert Pujols agreed to a 10-year deal worth at least $250 million with the Angels.

Additionally, Los Angeles said “we’re not done yet” by following this signing with the pick-up of former Ranger and left-handed starter C.J. Wilson. Wilson’s agent, Bob Garber, told ESPN the deal comes out to be worth $77.5 million for five years.

Pujol’s former team, the St. Louis Cardinals, have now been turned down… twice. Prior to this last MLB season, the Cardinals put a monster contract in his lap; however, Pujols (or his agent) desired to become the highest paid athlete in the league, so free agency would be his destination. Again, the Cardinals placed a little less than $200 million on his plate this off-season, but this would only put him as the fourth highest paid player in the league (I know, it’s so unfair…), so he went with his new deal that makes him the highest paid player in the league.

I could write down a bunch of stats for this man and also talk about his awards, but that wouldn’t adequately cover his impact on a baseball team. Pujols is a game changer. Pujols is a winner. Pujols is an MVP and a champion. Even though he is only one man, he has boosted this Angels team up to being a championship caliber team. As it stands right now, I would even go so far as to say that the Angels have more pressure to win it all than their city-mates, the Lakers (sorry Kobe).

Looking at the other side of this situation, the Cardinals will have some difficult times ahead. In one quick winter, Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols – the two faces of that franchise – are gone. Neither of these men is replaceable, as they are both one-of-a-kind to the sport of baseball. The fact that Pujols now plays for the American League might be the only silver lining for the Cardinals ball club.

Luckily for the Rangers, they already have a starting rotation in place without C.J. Wilson. Reliever Neftali Feliz has been moved up to a starting position with the signing of closer Joe Nathan. I believe the Rangers will be able to move forward without Wilson because of experience and confidence from the new starting five – Lewis, Holland, Harrison, Ogando, and Feliz.

I can most assuredly say one thing about these two pick-ups: we are bound to see some good Rangers-Angels match-ups. Imagine how much the media will build up these games: the Texas Rangers going up against their California divisional rival who added two men to their roster – one who helped bring the Rangers their second straight World Series defeat and one who wore a Rangers uniform but never seemed to have a desire to be in Texas. Before you can say “José Alberto Pujols Alcántara,” the Mavericks-Lakers meetings have been passed up by this AL West rivalry as one of the most anticipated showdowns of 2012.

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