For Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, it’s now World Series or bust. Every year they don’t win is a blunder season.
Forget about the 2,000 plus calorie wonder on a plate, forget about the AL West rival Texas Rangers and forget about the next owner of the neighbors up the I-5. Angels owner Arte Moreno has lured away the greatest player of our generation to don the carnelian red for the next decade.
Pujols is the modern-day Babe Ruth. He plays with dominant grace, untouched by performance enhancers and loved by the majority. No one comes close to the consistent production he has maintained in the past decade.
However, if Pujols doesn’t bring a World Series trophy to Anaheim, the risk will be a failure. The 4,000 plus rejoiced fans who welcomed him at the press conference will have shown up for nothing. Arte Moreno’s smile would seem as empty as his pocket book. The machine burger will just be another fancy burger.
Oh yes, this catch is risky. In some ways, more risk than reward.
Pujols just turned 32, and his statistical numbers the past three years have declined each concurrent year. Most baseball players are in decline by about age 34. Although he is still performing at an all-star level, it’s most likely “The Machine” has theoretically three to four more years left as a premiere positional player before he becomes the Angel’s designated hitter.
Though the Angels are getting a slugger whose career is on a Hall of Fame orbit, the Pujols window for bringing a World Series to Anaheim is small. At the end of Pujols’ contract with the Angels, he will be 41.
It appears that the Angels are investing in three potentially franchise-changing years with Pujols, but they could be distributing out millions upon millions to a player past his potential in the years after.
Everything considered, whether the Angels made a smart risk will be determined in the next 3-4 years.
Though the Angels bolstered their rotation with the addition of former Rangers ace, C.J. Wilson, it is Pujols who stands as the highest wave in the “Sea of Red.” It is Pujols who must captain the Angels to the promise land; territory they haven’t seen since 2002.
Regardless of what he pads to his Hall of Fame numbers, regardless of how much added revenue he may bring to the city, and regardless of how many machine burgers are sold–his time in Anaheim will only truly be measured by the World Series trophy.