Albert Pujols' Comments Lost in Translation -- Again?!


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Near the end of 2006, a tempest boiled over in the local sports teapot when Albert Pujols, in an interview with reporters in his native Dominican Republic, opined that maybe he, and not Ryan Howard, was entitled to that season's Most Valuable Player award, by virtue of the fact that Pujols' St. Louis Cardinals reached the postseason that year and Howard's Philadelphia Phillies didn't.

The thing was, when the story washed up on American shores, the English-language media spun it as if Pujols were a sore loser, brandishing red-flag headline terms such as "snubbed."

Well, to paraphrase the great Yogi Berra, it seems like déjà vu all over again. In an interview aired on Dominican radio this past Wednesday, Pujols was asked about the status of negotiations for a contract extension with the Cardinals. He's not worried about it, Pujols responded, and "not desperate" to sign. He added: "I would like to end my career in St. Louis." 

Two days later, when the story made headlines in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it was as if "not desperate" was tantamount to "not interested":

Albert Pujols' comments surprise St. Louis Cardinals

reads the headline on a story by Joe Strauss that appeared in the October 16 edition of the Post.

Writes Strauss:
Continuing a sense of sameness, Pujols is expected to earn a second consecutive and third overall Most Valuable Player award when results of balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America are announced next month.

However, Pujols also enters the offseason after establishing clear differences, one of which has caught the organization and quite possibly an adoring fan base off guard.

General manager John Mozeliak on Thursday admitted "surprise" to Pujols' comments Wednesday in an interview with a Dominican radio station. Pujols told the station in his native country that he feels no urgency to enter talks regarding a possible contract extension the Cardinals hope would tie him to the franchise for the remainder of his career.
Further along in his story, Strauss raises the possibility of "an approaching chill with a franchise that signed [Pujols] to a seven-year, $100 million deal after the 2003 season...."

Is it just me, or did Strauss' Post story de-emphasize the part where Pujols says, "I would like to finish my career in St. Louis"?
What? You say "de-emphasize" isn't an accurate characterization? You know, you're right! Strauss doesn't "de-emphasize" that aspect of the interview, he leaves it out entirely; in fact he attributes that very sentiment not to Pujols but to the Redbirds ownership, implying, to me, at least, that Pujols might somehow be opposed to the notion: "Pujols told the station...that he feels no urgency to enter talks regarding a possible contract extension the Cardinals hope would tie him to the franchise for the remainder of his career."

An e-mail to Strauss late Friday, inquiring whether he knows something beyond what he wrote, hasn't yet elicited a reply. In the meantime, though, Chicago Tribune baseball columnist Phil Rogers eructed with Sunday-paper opus titled:

St. Louis Cardinals in bad spot with Albert Pujols
They control him 2 more years, but he can command salary they can't pay

When Albert Pujols went a career-worst 89 at-bats without a home run to end an MVP performance in 2009, it was shocking. But it also may have been more. It may have been the beginning of the end for him in St. Louis.

The time may be coming, faster than Cardinals fans could dream, when general manager John Mozeliak may have to do the unthinkable -- solicit trade offers, most likely from the Red Sox, Yankees or Mets.

Like the kids say: WTF?

Before we all start saying things we might regret later, let's consult a story published on the Dominican website not long after the interview aired (rough translation to follow):

Calmado con extensión
Los Cardenales no están preparados para dejar partir a su mejor pelotero, a pesar de que aún faltan dos años para que eso pueda llegar a ocurrir.

San Luis quiere negociar, pero Pujols dice que esa situación no le preocupa en lo absoluto, pues del acuerdo de siete años y 100 millones en 2003, le queda pendiente una temporada y una opción del equipo para el 2011. 

"Todavía no nos hemos sentado en serio para saber qué ellos quieren y qué me van a ofrecer," dijo. 

"No estoy desesperado por firmar, pero sí me gustaría terminar mi carrera en San Luis."

Albert dejó claro que no necesariamente el dinero influirá en su decisión.

"Dios me ha bendecido con un contrato de 100 millones a los 23 años," recordó.


Calm with extension
The Cardinals are not ready to let go of their best player, although two years remain before that could come to pass.

St. Louis wants to negotiate, but Pujols says the situation doesn't worry him at all, because the contract he signed for seven years and $100 million in 2003 still has one season to go, plus a team option for 2011.

"We have not yet seriously sat down to learn what they want and what they're going to offer," he said.

"I'm not desperate to sign, but I would like to finish my career in St. Louis."

Albert made it clear that money does not necessarily influence his decision.

"God has blessed me with a $100 million contract at age 23," he said.

Finally, I should note that it wasn't all hyperbole on the Pujols front. Here's where the Post's Derrick Goold broke the news on Thursday morning. Blogged Goold:

The Cardinals first baseman said he is "not desperate" to negotiate with the Cardinals, and that he would "leave it in God's hands." This has been taken in some reports as a rejection of the Cardinals' plan, but that appears to be a reach when reading into the translation of Pujols' comments.

That was posted a day before Strauss quoted Mozeliak's apparent dismay.


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