…to be commenting on the 2011 baseball season I suppose but it was the best season I can remember. All sorts of milestones, Jeter’s 3000th hit, I don’t know which was more surprising, that it came by way of HR on a 5 for 5 day or that the fan that caught it handed it over to Jeter and didn’t have it listed on eBay before the cheering had died down, another Verlander ho hitter and the legendary Mariano Rivera’s record breaking career saves total as well as other events, Posey going down for the season after getting run over at the plate and being, literally, broken off at the ankles, a melt down for the ages by the Red Sox, closely followed by one from the Braves, all culminating in a final day of the regular season which will live forever. Some great and some not so great performances in the post season, from both players and managers and a game 6 of the World Series which dispelled thoughts that the post season might be an anti-climax to the excitement of the final day of the regular season. David Freese writes himself into St Louis Cardinal’s lore and maybe eases Card’s fans pain at the subsequent departure of Pujols. And a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place; dull I know but important.
And so to the Winter Meetings and the unheard of spectacle of the Miami Marlins throwing around money like a drunken sailor. I have to admit that I thought it was all show until they put pen to paper for Jose Reyes and reliable reports of offers to Pujols, Wilson and Buehrle. Sadly for the Marlins it worked out just about as badly as it could, short of them having to find $300M+ if they had signed them all. Wilson and Pujols go to the Angels, they over pay for Buehrle and Bell and piss off their superstar SS Hanley Ramirez, all without a single fan having paid to pass through the gate of their new stadium and still look like no better than a 3rd place team in the NL East in 2012, a 3rd place that the Nationals may well be fighting them for. How many fans will be coming through the turnstiles in 2013 if the Marlins finish 4th?
They say that sometimes the best deal is the one you don’t make, in ten years time and maybe long before, the St Louis Cardinals could well be thinking this. I think that the $254M over 10 years that the Angels have given Pujols makes little sense and would have made even less sense in St Louis. It must be incredibly tough to let go of the best player of the last decade, but that was not what they were being asked to pay for. Pujols, great as he is, will not be the best player of the next decade and may not be the best player right now, though there is no question he’s still well in the conversation. This is a challenge for the St Louis front office but an opportunity also given the salary flexibility that it offers providing ownership makes the money available which had been earmarked for Pujols?
The Winter Meetings are all done and were it not for the fact that Prince Fielder is still out there on the free agent market, we would be starting to look to February and pitchers and catchers reporting, but there might still be another twitch left in baseball for 2011.