It isn’t very often an organization can win by losing. Then again, it isn’t very often a player such as Albert Pujols leaves the St. Louis Cardinals for the Los Angeles Angels for the small asking price of 10 years and $254 million.
Sure, Cardinals fans will be going through ‘‘Cleveland Syndrome” for a little while. Like all sports disappointments, though, it shall pass.
That is, until spring training starts and the realization the Cardinals’ 25-man roster will be made up of mere mortals smacks St. Louis fans upside the face again.
But it wasn’t a bidding war the Cardinals could win. Ten years is four years too long for any hitter, let alone one who is 31 years old – allegedly. No, if there was a fit for a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar bat, it was in the American League, where Pujols eventually can become a designated hitter.
The winter meetings last week in Dallas showed everything really is bigger in Texas, including winners and losers.
In the case of the Cardinals, they were both.
Angels: Swooping in on Pujols like they did – after it seemed he was heading back to the Cardinals – was drama at its best. Then, just to let the New York Yankees know there is another AL team that can toss money around with no regard, they landed free-agent left-hander C.J. Wilson.
Only in Hollywood – give or take 45 minutes, depending on traffic.
Miami Marlins: Former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was promised the new-look Marlins would be aggressive, and they lived up to it by acquiring closer Heath Bell and leadoff hitter/shortstop Jose Reyes before grabbing left-hander Mark Buehrle. They were also in on Pujols, Wilson and any other high-ticket item walking through the lobby of the Hilton in Dallas.
The Cubs and the rest of the National League Central: Theo Epstein not only resisted overpaying for the big splash as the new ‘‘it” boy on the North Side, but he – along with the rest of the NL Central – watched the most dangerous hitter in the game – Pujols – leave the division.
White Sox: Forget that a portion of the fan base still is stinging about Buehrle, who had been the face of the pitching staff for a decade, taking his talents to South Beach to join Guillen. The Sox also traded closer Sergio Santos and his very comfortable contract to the Toronto Blue Jays for pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Molina better be really good, really soon.
Minnesota Twins: When the Twins opened Target Field a few seasons ago, all the talk was about how they would take advantage of the new revenue stream and shed their small-market mentality. But the only thing the Twins continue to take advantage of is a fan base that continues to support cheap ownership. Their big splash? Re-signing closer Matt Capps. Golf clap, Twins fans. Now get in line with the other sheep for those season tickets.
The Texas Rangers: Not only did the Rangers watch Wilson leave them for the rival Angels, but they also will have to watch 400-foot home runs by Pujols leave the yard.