Over the weekend, Albert Pujols hit the 600th home run of his career. He's just the ninth player to hit that mark. Can you name the first eight?
Bonds, Aaron, Ruth, A-Rod, Mays, Griffey, Thome, and Sosa. Pretty elite company. Congrats to Albert on a great career. However, the Angels are paying Pujols $26 million this year—currently a -0.3 WAR player—and owe him another $114 million between 2018-2021. Ouch.
I hate to break this to Angels supporters, but I think Pujols might be trending downward.
Less than two months after winning the 2011 World Series, the 31-year-old Pujols signed a 10-year, $254 million contract with the Angels. The Cardinals offered him something around 10 years, $200 million and the Marlins had an Angels-like contract on the table, but wouldn't include a no-trade clause.
Obviously we know now that the Pujols' contract was terrible. If the Angels could do it over again, they wouldn't offer Albert $100 million, let alone $250. But at the time, people's reactions were mixed. Here are a few of my favorite responses to Albert's surprising deal with the Halos.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto (now Mariners GM)
“If we want to call ‘decline’ going from superhuman to great. I don’t think we’ve seen the last great days of Albert Pujols, or we wouldn’t be sitting here today."
"I will say this, that in regard to the evolution of a hitter, as hitters begin to age, into their 30s and to whatever point you can project, there is a certain quality and a trait in a hitter, the patience they exhibit. Albert has had an extraordinary career with regard to maintaining control of the strike zone. Albert is still as big an impact guy after 11 years as there is in this game."
Cody Rice, manager of Lucy's Corner Cafe in Columbia, MO (Missourian)
"He doesn't want to play ball anymore. He just wants to make money. Mike Matheny will be a good manager."
Sam Miller, OC Register (now ESPN)
"Albert Pujols will be an Angel for 10 years! Albert Pujols will be on the Angels in April, and you will get to watch him. There is a not-bad chance this will turn out disastrous, and a not-bad chance it will lead the Angels to at least one World Series, and you can try do the math on which of those is more likely but just think about this for a second: Albert Pujols!"