Seriously folks. As was reported by USA Today's Bob Nightengale last night, Pujols rejected the Cardinals latest offer, and will end contract talks on Tuesday. The details of the offer have been kept under lock and key, and I have to think the Cardinals and Pujols are note even close in their negotiations. For the Cardinals to do this to the face of the franchise, the best player in baseball is really astonishing. Quite interesting that this news came out after the Cardinals announced they would have a news conference on Wednesday to discuss the negotiations.
And it appears, according to Nightengale, that the Cardinals are already preparing for the media onslaught on Wednesday:
Pujols, trying to avoid distractions, has no intention of addressing the contract talks when he reports Wednesday to the Cardinals' spring-training camp in Jupiter, Fla. Manager Tony La Russa told reporters Sunday he will also encourage his players to avoid the issue.
"This is a spectacular distraction potentially," La Russa said. "We won't allow it to be."
LaRussa's comments are probably the reason for the Wednesday news conference.
More on Pujols and other fantasy news after the jump:
I traded for Pujols, and his $59 salary, in the UBA NL-only keeper league, in case the Cardinals would not sign him before spring training. I gave up minor leaguer Tim Alderson for Pujols, as his salary is exorbitant for a league where every owner has a $260 budget. But, should the Cards not get him signed, I wonder if I should keep him at $59 and assume he will have a monster walk year. I normally would not do so, but I have several cheap salaried hitters which makes the decision at least a little easier.
Could Pujols have his best season ever in what could be his walk year? He would have to improve upon his 2009 season which saw him hit .327-.443-.658 with 47 HRs, 135 RBIs, 124 runs scored and 16 SBs. Could he go 50-140-15-.330 in 2011? Or has age and injuries begun to slow him down?
Here is what I had to say about Pujols when I ranked him as my #1 first baseman for fantasy purposes:
1. Albert Pujols, STL-there is not much more that one need to know about King Albert, but he has averaged 41 HRs, 123 RBIs, 119 Runs, with a .331-.426-.624 triple slash line in his 10 years in the majors.
Baseball HQ's Ron Shandler has him hitting .317-.423-.607 with 40 HRs, 121 RBIs and 12 SBs this season, all very close to his career averages.
In other fantasy news this weekend, Bryce Harper stated that he prefers playing centerfield, rather than rightfield, and the Nats may just have an opening in CF by this time next year. Their current CF, Nyjer Morgan, did not win many fans after igniting a bench-clearing brawl, and then walking off the field pounding his chest like he was some type of hero. There is talk that Harper could be up in the big leagues in 2012 as well.
The Mets reported that Johan Santana has begun to play catch at his home recently. I am not sure how comforting that is, but the Mets felt the need to report it. For me, he is not draftable this year in redraft leagues, but is draftable in keeper leagues.
The Padres apparently are thinking about signing closer Heath Bell to an extension. If so, the fantasy values of Mike Adams, Chad Qualls and Luke Gregerson just took a hit.
Rob Biertempfel from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that reliever Joel Hanrahan has the upper hand in the Pirates closer battle. I would think so as Hanrahan was one of four relievers to strikeout 100 batters last season.
It is reported that Grady Sizemore will start the 2011 season on the DL and probably be ready by mid-April. He is returning from micro-fracture knee surgery, so I would not be surprised to see his return pushed back to May.
Mark Gonzalez from the Chicago Tribune reports that pitching prospect Chris Sale will probably start the season in the White Sox bullpen, and that is where manager Ozzie Guillen prefers to start him as well. Sale will compete with Matt Thornton for the closer spot. Either way, that is a solid back of the bullpen for the White Sox.