Tony La Russa dislikes long deals

Tony La Russa is an unabashed fan of Albert Pujols, but even his appreciation for Pujols wouldn't have driven him to give the future Hall of Fame slugger a 10-year contract.

Appearing Wednesday on "ESPN First Take," La Russa said any commitment longer than six years carries plenty of risk, and that if he were a team executive, a term beyond that is something he would not consider.

"I don't think 10 years was a smart move for the Cardinals," La Russa said, adding that he couldn't second-guess the Angels' decision to sign Pujols (for $254 million) because "he is a great franchise player, so it makes sense for them.

"I think Albert is perfect -- I call him Albert P. Pujols for Albert Perfect Pujols -- but I don't think that I would ever endorse a contract beyond six years, tops."

La Russa's comments on "First Take" came on the heels of a question about whether soon-to-be free agent Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers was worth perhaps a comparable contract to Pujols'.

"If I'm an executive, whether it's Josh or whether it was Albert last year, I don't know that I would risk more than five, six years on anybody," said La Russa, who retired after leading St. Louis to last year's World Series title as a wild-card team.

"It's one of the dangers in our game when an organization is pushed beyond something -- five or six (years) is a big commitment -- when you go longer I think it's scary and dangerous."

Pujols, 32, struggled at the start of his first season as an Angel, not homering until the first week of May. He currently is hitting .288 with 30 home runs and 102 RBIs as Los Angeles attempt to reach the postseason as one of the two American League wild cards.

Hamilton, 31, has been the offensive catalyst for first-place Texas this season, hitting .288 with a majors-leading 43 homers and 124 RBIs.

La Russa managed in the majors for 33 seasons, the last 16 with the Cardinals, who retired his No. 10 jersey in May. He won three rings, two with St. Louis and the other with Oakland.