Two names are synonymous with those teams over the last decade.
Albert Pujols. Jimmy Rollins.
For one of the two former NL MVPs, the end of an era could very well come on Friday. The player whose team fails to advance to the NLCS could very well be taking off his squad’s jersey for the last time. The players who make their line-ups tick are both free agents this winter. And, to say contract negotiations haven’t gone well in either case is an understatement.
JRoll is on record as saying there will be no “hometown discount.” Reports suggest he is hellbent on getting a five-year deal. The Phillies likely will not give him that, especially as the rest of the core is aging around him. The team needs to get younger and could look elsewhere, especially considering the offensive funk it’s been in for two years.
And, while Rollins is on fire with a better than .500 average this postseason, the fact remains that his average has been dismal in recent years.
As for Pujols, he is the man who makes the Cardinals line-up go. He is Cardinals baseball these days and a guy who has made the baseball fans in St. Louis forget about what Mark McGwire did to tarnish the team’s uniform.
In 11 seasons, Pujols has bashed 445 longballs with more than 1,300 RBI, while hitting .328. Yes a power hitter who hits for average. If Ryan Howard gets $25 million a year, what does Pujols command? And, can the Cars be able — or willing — to pay that? Or, could they let Pujols walk and get production from a Prince Fielder for less?
Whatever the outcome on Friday night, the likelihood that one franchise plays its last game with the face of its organization is the reality. In a day, we’ll know which era has potentially ended.