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.