OFFER THE DOLLARS, THEN MAKE SENSE OF ITBy Wallace Matthews
For one thing, they have a first baseman who has five years left on his contract and a full no-trade clause. For another, they have a third baseman who is signed through the 2017 season. For a third, they have a logjam at the only other place they could reasonably place Pujols: designated hitter.
Plus, Pujols is likely to command the kind of contract -- too many years at too much money -- that is already hamstringing the Yankees with the deals given to Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia.
Yet making sense has never been a very important factor in Yankees free-agent signings.
Very often, it's been about signing the best available player on the market, then finding a spot for him rather than the other way around, and there is no question that Pujols is far and away the cream of the 2012 crop.
Most importantly, he is enjoying something the Yankees did not -- a great postseason. The Yankees lost the ALDS to Detroit because they were unable to score four runs in a decisive Game 5, even with the bases loaded, one out and A-Rod and Teixeira -- the two players whose combined presence stands in the way of Pujols' becoming a Yankee -- coming to the plate in the seventh inning.
Do you think that game might have turned out differently if Phat Albert had been hitting in one of those spots?
Really, this is an easy one. Neither A-Rod nor Tex nor Pujols wants to be a full-time DH? OK, you rotate them in and out. One day A-Rod plays third, Pujols DHs, Tex plays first. Then Pujols plays first and Tex DHs. On A-Rod's DH day, Pujols plays third. He can't be much worse than Eduardo Nuñez, although he did make three errors in seven games there this season.
As for Jesus Montero, who seemed destined to be the DH, you either carry him as the backup catcher or you send him to the farm for another year of seasoning. He has plenty of time; he will be only 22 next Opening Day.
The Yankees owe it to themselves and their fan base to see whether they can make this work. And trust me, if they get Pujols, they will make him fit.
DID WE LEARN NOTHING FROM A-ROD?By Andrew Marchand
Here we go again. Let's sign a soon-to-be-32-year-old superstar and predominantly pay for what he used to be instead of what he will be.
The easy argument as to why the Yankees should pass on Albert Pujols is that there is no place for him to play. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez are snug on the corners and own full no-trade clauses. Pujols probably can't play the outfield anymore, so he could just clog up the DH spot.
But forget all that. Even if the Yankees had an opening, they would fall back into the A-Rod trap if they added Pujols.
Right now, signing Pujols -- the best hitter in the game -- would be a no-brainer on a big-money, short-term deal. But Pujols is not looking for a three- or four-year contract. Pujols wants seven, eight, maybe nine years.
The definition of crazy is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. The Yankees would be crazy to think Pujols' contract would work out differently than A-Rod's or Teixeira's or any of the current contracts that look so poor long-term.
Pujols is a great, great player. He probably has three definite standout years ahead of him. But at 35, what will happen?
At 31, in 147 games, Pujols hit .299 with 37 homers and 99 RBIs. In A-Rod's 31-year-old season, he hit .314 with 54 homers and 156 RBIs. Now, to be fair, who knows what type of "tic tacs" Rodriguez was putting into his body? Still, the Yankees signed him for 10 years and now regret it.
How will Pujols age? We don't know, but we can expect a natural regression in performance.
Paying to have Pujols play for the Yankees into his late 30s is asking for the same problems the team currently has with A-Rod. It is crazy.