The St. Louis Cardinals’ Winter Warm Up enters its final day Monday with the team’s biggest off-season acquisition on display. Outfielder Carlos Beltran, a free agent signee from San Francisco, whose big bat is expected to replace some of the production lost when Albert Pujols left.
The departure of Pujols was a major topic of discussion Sunday, as the team’s chairman, Bill DeWitt, Jr. spoke at length about the negotiations with Pujols, and what went wrong.
“I think they made it clear that that official offer, they weren't happy with,” DeWitt said of the Pujols camp, “but it was really in response to where we had been in the spring with a longer contract and a longer AAV (Average Annual Value). We got a sense that maybe shorter with a higher AAV might have some merit but clearly they were looking longer the whole way, but ya know until you explore those things you don't know for sure.”
In the end, DeWitt believes Cardinal fans understand what happened and why.
“This is a very knowledgeable baseball market as you know, and I think they all realize you can only do so much for a given player and compete year in and year out.”
As for the players, some, like left fielder Matt Holliday, are almost defiant when talking about their ability to fill the void left by Pujols’ departure.
“I've played on teams without Albert before,” he told reporters. “I've batted third before. I've played in a World Series before. I'm available for whatever is asked of me. I work for the St. Louis Cardinals and if the job description changes and there's more asked of me that's part of my job.”
Monday at the Hyatt Regency, Beltran will meet fans and sign autographs for the first time as a Cardinal. World Series MVP David Freese will also be there, along with outfielder John Jay, pitcher Kyle Lohse, former manager Whitey Herzog, and others.