That’s the rumor though according to an ESPN article. Internal discussions in the Phillies front office have centered on pitching a deal that would trade one team’s MVP first baseman for another.
The logic for a Howard for Pujols swap, as discussed within the Phillies’ organization, could fall along these lines: Pujols, 30 years old, is eligible for free agency after the 2011 season, and early conversations about a contract extension have not led to any long-term deal. The expectation within baseball is that Pujols may ask for a deal that would rival, in annual value, the record-setting 10-year, $275 million deal that Alex Rodriguez negotiated with the Yankees in fall 2007.
If the Cardinals were to decide, at any point, that they could not afford to sign Pujols, they could consider dealing him, in the way the Toronto Blue Jays traded Roy Halladay, or the Minnesota Twins traded Johan Santana.
And Howard, who is just a couple of months older than Pujols, would not be a bad alternative. In the past four seasons, Howard has hit 198 homers and accumulated 572 RBIs, and has finished in the top five of the NL MVP race.
Though we would agree if you are trading Pujols, from a PR perspective, getting local product Ryan Howard back would be about as good as it could get, in that there might be a little less rioting at the gates of Busch Stadium, but here’s why this is a horrible idea that the Cardinals will have nothing to do with: Yes, Howard can hit the long ball, but he strikes out far too much which is in sharp contrast to Pujols’ unheard of power and contact pairing. Defense is another big issue in this. Yes, Howard has gotten better, but Pujols is arguably the best defensive first baseman in the National League.
Calm down though, at this time the Phillies are denying any such talks (but what are they supposed to say) and there is no evidence that this idea has been in any way floated to the Cardinals.
We do know this though. If you are even a little annoyed that this is non-news is being discussed, I really wouldn’t turn on any sport talk stations tomorrow, because that’s all they are going to be talking about. We can hear the confused grunts followed by the “I don’t know. This could work…” sounds coming out of D’Marco Farr now and call after call of freaking out red-necks dotted with a few armchair GMs trying to make this deal work.
I think we just talked ourselves out of ever listening to St. Louis radio sports talk ever again.