Even more so when the Cubs are mentioned.
Yes, Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal reported on Tuesday that the Cubs are interested in Albert — although they also are interested in Prince Fielder.
How real or deep is that interest? It doesn’t matter. Facts aren’t as important as providing fodder during a so-far lukewarm hot stove season.
Whether it’s St. Louis writers like Bernie Miklasz, Jeff Gordon or Bryan Burwell offering an opinion, Derrick Goold providing more factual information, Chicago writers like Phil Rogers and Rick Morrissey or national baseball writers like Scott Miller chiming in, there have been plenty of words written about Albert this week. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports even made this ridiculous statement:
The best thing that could happen for baseball this offseason is Albert Pujols signing with the Chicago Cubs.
(Of course, I’m also just giving Passan attention — which was likely his only point.)
But the risk of turning this into my own version of the inimitable Daily Pujols, I’ll leave the links at that.
Wait, one more — but to something I wrote about previously. Of course the Cubs are pursuing Albert. Remember back in March when Forbes magazine said he’ll be a Cub in 2012?
One person we haven’t heard from, and won’t of course, is Albert himself. But he’s the one I’m the most curious about.
I can understand, to a degree, his wanting to explore the options available to him on the free agent market and see what teams are interested — that’s the whole reason he didn’t accept the Cardinals previous offers. And that interest from other teams is backed up by how much they are willing to give him dollar-wise. So far, we know the Marlins made an offer to him. (Whether it’s lucrative enough to be serious, of course, is just speculation.) Let’s presume the Cubs will too, and maybe another team.
That means Albert will have a decision to make. (Not “The Decision” — sorry, Jeff Passan.) And his decision will let us know what’s really important to Albert.
Does he value 11 seasons of adulation, three trips to the World Series, two rings, a 2012 Cardinals team that will be favored in the division and a new opportunity playing for one of his former teammates with Mike Matheny taking over as manager?
Or are attention — which he’d certainly get in Chicago, more than St. Louis — and money more important to him than legacy and a chance to continue winning?
Yes, baseball is a business. Of course it is. And Albert, and his agent, are businessmen trying to make the most they can for themselves during what’s really a limited time frame of a playing career that’s already 11 seasons old. How much money is enough, though? And how much are teams realistically willing to offer him — despite his numbers, despite his status and with his age? How many teams have the money, or willingness, to make a substantial investment in him anyway?
Maybe those options will be very limited.
But what does Albert value? We should learn more about that in the next month or so. And if his decision is to go elsewhere — such as to the Cubs — will that change what you’ve thought of him for the past 11 seasons?
It certainly will for me.
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email email@example.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.