Will Pujols deal backfire?

What can the Angels hope to get with a 10-year deal? (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

What can the Angels hope to get with a 10-year deal? (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

BOB ELLIOT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:59 PM ET

DALLAS - Former Blue Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg spotted ex-Toronto centre fielder Vernon Wells in the lobby of the Anatole Hilton Thursday afternoon.

“Hey Vernon,” asked Arnsberg, after interviewing with Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherrington for the vacant pitching coach’s job.

“Why are you here? Looking for work?”

Wells, on year three of his seven-year extension given him by former Jays executives Paul Godfrey and J.P. Ricciardi, had been invited to make the drive from his home in Arlington by MLBNetwork’s Harold Reynolds to comment on the Angels’ acquisitions at the 110th winter meetings:

First baseman Albert Pujols agreed to a 10-year, $254 million US contract.

Lefty C.J. Wilson assigned a five-year, $77.5 million deal.

Owner Arte Moreno had some kind of morning, as the Angels battle to capture southern California from the Los Angeles Dodgers and the American League West from the Texas Rangers, who lost Wilson.

It was $331.5 million commitment for the Angels, who do not allow scouts to file gas mileage when they drive from Anaheim to Dodger Stadium (a $100 cab fare).

Anaheim went from 22-1 longshots to 7-2 co-favourites, with the Philadelphia Phillies, to win the 2012 World Series. On Tuesday Pujols was trying to decide between the Miami Marlins and the Cards. The Angels spent Wednesday denying their interest as the Marlins dropped out. Pujols awoke Thursday with his decision.

“They call him The Machine for a reason,” Wells said. “He’s one of the few guys who hits at the best level, he’s an unprecedented hitter.”

Wells spent 12 years with the Jays, Pujols 11 with the Cardinals before both headed to the Angels.

“It’s difficult when you get out of your comfort level,” Wells said. “We’re creatures of habit. We do the same thing every day. I don’t think it will be a problem for Albert. He’s a machine.

“The Rangers are still the best team in our division, they were in the Series. We’re second best right now.”

Wells said he started hitting in October, adding he expects to be hitting come next October in post-season play.

St. Louis did little to alter the nine-year, $198 million offer they made Pujols in spring training. Some say it climbed to 10 years for $218 million, others say the 10th year was an option year with little guaranteed.

But 10 years?

Hall of Fame GM Pat Gillick used to say if “you give a pitcher three years, you hope he performs for two.”

What can the Angels hope to get with a 10-year deal? Eight? Nine?

“Maybe five,” said one GM. “Could it be that there is something about this hotel?”

The deal, third largest in the industry, was finalized and announced at the Anatole, same place Alex Rodriguez inked a 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers in 2000.

Pujols’s age, 31, has been disputed.

“Albert’s age is not a concern, I’m not a scientist, he’s an honourable man. He hits like he’s 27,” said Anaheim GM Jerry Dipoto. “I don’t think you’ve seen the last great days of Albert Pujols obviously, or we would not be sitting here.”

Pujols compares to Jimmie Foxx, Ken Griffey, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Mel Ott, Juan Gonzalez, Willie Mays and Manny Ramirez. Only Aaron (12 homers, 60 RBIs) and Mays (eight homers, 19 RBIs) played at age 41.

Do you think in the year 2021 the Angels’ P.A. announcer will say:

“Now batting for the Angels ... No. 5 Albert Pujols.”

No chance.

Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin was discussing his own free agent, Prince Fielder, the other day ... but he could have been speaking of Pujols.

“You have to think what your club will look like down the road,” Melvin told reporters. “That’s the danger of free agency. Teams that get into free agency are the teams that are all in trouble.

“The Minnesota Twins sign Joe Mauer. The Seattle Mariners were the winners of winter meetings one year with Chone Figgins. The Red Sox with Carl Crawford last year and John Lackey two years ago, they were winners. Now they’re the losers.

“The Cubs were the winners when they signed Alfonso Soriano, now they’re the losers. I don’t understand why that’s not written more. All the teams that are the big winners at the meetings are always the losers three years from now. Everybody wants to spend.”


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