Like almost everyone else, my reaction to the news that Albert Pujols would be joining the Los Angeles Dodgers was one of surprise and instantaneous questions as to the logic practiced by the reigning champions of baseball.
Obviously money wasn’t a factor. Albert will receive his guaranteed millions no matter what the seasonal circumstances. But the Dodgers?? How is he going to help a National League team in which there’s no DH, except on rare occasions, and his playing time will be limited at best? Why?
Well, as the referees in the NFL are so fond of saying, “upon further review,” this decision does become considerably more realistic and sensible.
The Dodgers were the national pre season consensus to sprint away from the field and, likely, impose an iron like grip on their status as “the best team in baseball”. And, indeed, L.A. got off to a red hot start and looked nearly overpowering. But, then old man injury began to slink around the Dodgers camp and slowly smudge the once glittering future with clouds of doubt.
All-Star Cody Bellinger out for an extended period because of a hairline fibula fracture. Second baseman Zach McKinstry out with an oblique muscle strain, shortstop Cory Seager out with a hand fracture after being hit with a pitch and Mookie Betts is playing, but slowed by back problems. And, most recently, backup first baseman Edwin Rios is out for the season because of pending shoulder surgery.
Suddenly, the surprise of availability of one of baseball’s greatest sluggers, yes slowed by injuries and Big Daddy Time, is now quite appealing and most convenient.
Albert says he can still play …. and wants to. The American League, with their status in the designated hitter, would appear to be the obvious choice. But the Dodgers, reportedly using some interesting strategy, told Albert that they wanted him for his future Hall of Fame power abilities. A facet of the game in which the Dodgers had been “scuffling” recently.
Furthermore, he would play an occasional first base with All-Star Max Muncy moving to second base. Most importantly, Albert would provide that key measure of depth on the bench that contending teams so desperately desire.
And, maybe the icing on the chance to be a part of a championship contending team, Albert doesn’t have to move and chance his locale. The family can stay right where they’ve been for the last decade and continue to play out his days in the big show.
Regardless, everyone wishes Albert the best of good fortune as his career comes to a close and …. please don’t smash too many shots against the Cardinals.