In the wake of Albert Pujols' forearm fracture, Buster Olney shifts the focus away from the St. Louis Cardinals and their ability to patch together production in their best player's absence and places it on his coming off-season when Albert Pujols will be seeking a contract that could touch - or surpass - $25 million per year.
Whether Pujols is able to find a contract that pays him $25 million per season or whether he has to settle for a much lower quality of living at $21 million per year will depend on how he returns from this injury - more specifically, how his power returns.
One scout recognizes that Pujols will still be great hitter, but shares the same concern as many others do of the return of his power. There are a lot of good hitters out there, even some great hitters, but Pujols, obviously, provides great hitting ability with incredible power. That is largely why he is considered the best player in the game.
Two former cases that scouts and evaluators turn to with concern toward Pujols are Derrek Lee and Cliff Floyd. Each suffered a wrist injury playing first base when a runner collided with them and it can be argued that the injury dampened their power production in the following seasons.One NL evaluator basically describes Pujols as a "freak" and suggests that we can't draw strong comparisons to past similar injuries because he is simply that much better than the players in any cases we can draw from. I agree to an extent. If there is a certain precedent following this type of injury, I think it is fair to apply those expectations to new cases. At the same time, this is Albert Pujols. He's a different breed of baseball player, he's The Machine. If anybody can be a positive outlier it's going to be this guy.
Aside from the speculation and suggestion, the fact is Pujols will have two months - give or take a week or two - in the regular season and perhaps some postseason games to prove that he's back to being Albert Pujols and that the forearm injury hasn't relegated him to the NL's Joe Mauer. I'm not even trying to knock Mauer either. That's just how good Pujols is.
A lot of money will be on the line upon Albert Pujols' return - not to mention a Cardinals playoff berth. He'll say that he's not thinking about it but how can you not when you have the weight of two worlds on your shoulders? What is it they say about pressure?