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One-on-One: Which player is more important to lock up?

Albert Pujols

A .327/32/103 line is pretty pedestrian right?  Not.

Even in his worst statistical season, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols has numbers 99.9 percent of America would kill for.

With his average season of .331/42/128, Pujols is a consistent threat for the NL MVP.

Because of the precedence set in the early 2000s and the monster contracts given to A-Rod and Manny, it’s going to be tough to justify that anyone should have made more money than Pujols.

While he’s worth more than $25 million not just to the Cardinals, but also to the city of St. Louis, it could be tough in this day and age to get there.

It would be wrong to give even the nicest of baseball players (which Pujols easily qualifies for) anything less because Prince Albert isn’t even arguably the best player in the game, it’s hands down.

The alternative is likely he ends up on the North side of Chicago, which could probably end pretty poorly for the Cards.

With the Red Sox and Yanks locked in for the foreseeable future at first base and the impending lawsuit for the Mets, the Cubs are the lone major market left, and with many big contracts (Fukudome, Soriano and Pena) coming off the books, the money is there.

Unless the Cardinals want to finally give the Lovable Losers a championship parade, I think they should keep Albert for the long haul.

-Bill Hopkins


Peyton Manning


There is no bigger free agent in all of sports than Peyton Manning.

He means more to his team than any other athlete in professional sports.

Without Manning’s rocket arm, the Colts go from perennial Super Bowl contenders to nothing more than an average team fighting to get in the playoffs.

You could put any other quarterback in Indianapolis and the Colts would not be able to retain the success they have seen under Manning. He is the best player in the NFL by a large margin.

And I’m not just saying that because I’m a die-hard Colts fan. I’m also a huge Cardinals fan, but without Albert Pujols the Cardinals would still be able to compete in a few years.

The Redbirds have Matt Holliday locked up long-term, giving them a big bat in the lineup, and their pitching staff should remain solid for the next few seasons.

Pujols is asking for a 10-year $300 million deal so that if he does walk, the Cardinals will have plenty of money to pursue a top flight hitter at first base.

The Colts without Manning become the Dolphins, Broncos and 49ers, all teams that have done next to nothing since their Hall of Fame quarterbacks retired.

There is no question Pujols is important to the Cardinals, but Manning is even more important to the Colts.

-Alex Ross



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