NYT: Pujols Asking for $80 Million Over Value

Categories: Cardinals

albert pujols 4.jpg
Can he pull a Ted Williams and stay dominant till he's 41?
​Interesting analysis by The New York Times yesterday on the Pujols situation. The writer, Dan Rosenheck, trolls into the statistical annals of baseball history to compare No. 5 with other players of his caliber -- Musial, Aaron and Williams, for example -- who played deep into their 30s. Pujols, who is 31, is seeking $300 million for a 10-year contract, basically asking potential suitors to bet on his productivity as a 39-year-old.

Rosenheck's determination? Albert's gunning for about $80 million more than he's worth.

Anyone betting Pujols will put up big numbers in his late 30s is naïve, says the writer. There are only five players in history who remained dominant enough at a late age to command the kind of bucks Albert's asking for.

"What seems clear is that expecting star-caliber play after 37 is folly. The only position players who palyed well enough after 38 to justify three or more years under contract at top dollar were Barry Bonds, Honus Wagner, Willie Mays, (Ted) Williams and (oddly) Luke Appling. The first four all have an argument as the best player ever.

Overall, the historical evidence suggests that over the next seven years, Pujols will play about 30 percent worse than he has until now, which would make him worth some 42 wins -- still the best first basement in the game, but not necessarily a perennial M.V.P. contender. After that, he is likely to be merely above average at 38, average at 39 and a fringe player at 40."

What does all that mean from a bottom-line perspective? Rosenheck bases his analysis on the amount of wins an All-Star-caliber player can garner for a team compared to your run-of-the-mill Nick Punto. Adjusting for the inflated revenue the Cards should bring in each year, and factoring in hitting numbers that will surely decline, Rosenheck figures Albert is worth about $180 million through 2017. (Rosenheck could do better in explaining his algorithms; too much of his number-crunching is left to trust.)

Regardless, he says, when Pujols turns 37, he might command about $40 million more on a pair of aging legs. That leaves an $80 million difference between his value and what he's asking for. And that's a lot of jerseys to sell if he wants to make it up to his team.

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Mr. Rosenheck's recent Keeping Score column opines that, based on a set of semi-mathematical yet, totally hypothetical calculations, Albert Pujols' asking price for the next 10 years' of service, is way too much. He likens this over valuation thusly: "...$80 million is a lot of warm fuzzies". Pujols has supposedly demanded $300 million for a ten year contract. The article, directed to baseball FANS, instead uses high falutin, SABR-like considerations to make his point. Raising unquantifyable issues such as: Number of wins a player provides to his team; How a player will age [like wine or steak, perhaps?]; Translating on-field performance into dollars and cents and Calculating off-the-field marquee value to the franchise, only clouds the point Mr. Rosenheck tries to clarify. These are certainly important, if not impossible, considerations for Cardinals' management to add to the equation. However, they matter not one whit to baseball fans, especially those whose fannies occupy the seats at Busch Stadium! Pujols is a player and humanitarian with a record of accomplishments in his first 10 years in the big leagues that arguably rivals the impact which the entire careers of Ruth, Aaron, Cobb or Rose have had on baseball. This black, Hispanic native of Santo Domingo is revered by baseball fans the world over the way Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson are: for contributions on and off the field. He is a standard of excellence and a role model all in one. He is as synonymous with the St. Louis Cardinals as is Stan Musial, or as Babe Ruth is with the New York Yankees. Where once we couldn't wrap our heads around A-Rod's Contracts I and II, they are often now used as a guideline for other superstars. No less an authority than Mickey Mantle (and, by today's standards the under-paid player of the last 50 years) uttered what should be Pujols contract Battle Cry. When asked what he would have said to George Steinbrenner during a present-day contract negotiation, his reply was a spot-on: "How's it going, partner?" The owners of the Cards would be better served to understand that concept in their Pujols-considerations! If the Cardinals overpaid for another player (Mr. Rosenheck dismisses Matt Holiday's "bloated" $120 million deal), so what! Does that take away or add to what Pujols should get? I don't think you can quantify the value of an icon and I believe Albert Pujols so qualifies. I also don't think the Cardinals can afford the damage that would result if Pujols were allowed to even test the free-agent waters, much less don another teams colors in 2012. While St. Louis is arguably the home to the most loyal and knowledgeable of fans, a move by ownership that results in these contract negotiations taking a wrong turn (See: Jeter vs. Yankees) would do more harm than they could ever hope to undo to their reputation and their fan base. As importantly, in today's electronic network, his deeds and his Cardinal connection are known around the globe. The negative impact would be quite significant to the club and its close identity with Anheuser-Busch products. While as a die-hard Yankee fan, I would love to be considering how Albert Pujols would look in pinstripes and how he would fit into their All-Star lineup during the next decade, it just seems oh-so-right that Pujols remain a lifelong Cardinal and gets the dollars he seeks from them. The money the Busch family received while owning and then selling their beer empire would be well-spent investing in an American hero like Albert Pujols. The alternative, I fear, will see them crying in their golden hops long after the Budweiser Clydesdales are put out to pasture. Joe Mule'JRMpc21@aol.comGreenville, SC864-469-6868

Dan Rosenheck
Dan Rosenheck

This is Dan Rosenheck, the author of the article under discussion. With limited space in the column and a general audience with a limited appetite for number-crunching, I try not to spell out every step of my calculations in print. But if you start at 7.5 wins (Pujols's 2011 PECOTA forecast) and $3.5 million a win in 2011 (using $1.4 million per regular season win and $54 million for making the playoffs, with each marginal win for a contender increasing the likelihood of reaching the playoffs by 4%), and deduct 0.5 wins per year (in line with the historical comparables) while increasing the $/win by 7.8% a year, you'll get $180 million over 7 years.

Douche McGee
Douche McGee

Do you get a different number if you base it off of his entire career?


I don't care who Pujols has as an agent, those calculations of yours do not address who this guy has been, who he is now and for the unlimited potential he holds in his bat and glove. Let the boys with the CPA's crunch all the convoluted numbers they want and then make the argument you did. He was underpaid for the last 5 years of his current contract and deserves to make up for that shortfall and to set the bar the way A-Rod, Manny, Winfield and Belle did before him.Your article sure provoked me enough to write and probably moved many more readers who don't have the time to write. On that score, nice job!Joe Mule'Greenville, SC



are you taking any consideration to inflation and pay raises within the league - or are you giving your estimate in today's (2011) dollars?

Dan Rosenheck
Dan Rosenheck

Yes, I am factoring in the growth of MLB revenues (a combination of real increase and inflation) at 7.8% a year, as stated above. The $180M/7 or $220M/10 figures are presuming that growth rate.

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