Howard for Pujols wasn’t so crazy after all

At 31, Howard and Pujols are two of the top first basemen in baseball. But would swapping teams be better options for the players and teams?

Phillies fans, I present to you a simple hypothetical…

Would you rather have Ryan Howard for five years, $25 million a year or Albert Pujols for 7-10 for around $30 million a year? What if the trade rumors from last season were true? Is Albert Pujols in red pinstripes an ideal situation?

There are no rumors brewing. This is only hypothetical. Would you trade Howard, who is locked up for five years, to St. Louis for Pujols, who is in his last year of his current contract and will be a free agent after the 2011 season?

I’m also tempted to say yes. Here’s why:

I may have beaten this dead horse worse than when Chris Brown beat Rihanna (too soon?). When the Phillies lost Jayson Werth, they lost the value of a right-handed bat in the line up.

Pujols hits right and Howard left. With Pujols in the clean up spot, he balances the top five of their batting order almost perfectly.

Pujols is also the greatest player of the past decade. And with that being said, Pujols still has the ability to be a .300 hitter and add 35-40 homers and 125+ RBIs a season. But people are afraid that Pujols, who turned 31 last month, will be able to keep up that pace for another 5+ years.

Many are also skeptical of Howard’s post-30 success. Howard is also 31, turning so back in November. Here is a look at their 2010 stats and you’ll see a scary disparity between the two:

  • Pujols: .312, 42 HR, 118 RBI, 76 SO, 1.010 OPS
  • Howard: .276, 31 HR, 106 RBI, 156 SO, .859 OPS

I know it’s only one season but Howard’s numbers were a decline from his numbers as a 29-year-old in 2009. Howard hit no fewer than 45 homers and 136 RBIs in the past four years prior to last season. Pujols had a season on par to his career. The only glaring decline was his 118 RBIs which still led the NL so Pujols’ decline was steady through out the league.

For consistent production like that with half the strike outs, I think Pujols would be worth the money to sign him and extend him for the $30 million he will be seeking. Granted it’s A-Rod money but Pujols is no A-Rod nor will he see the decline A-Rod did after his big extension in Texas and New York.

This hypothetical trade works on both sides too. The Phillies will replace a left-handed bat with a right-handed bat, giving Domonic Brown a place in an already left-handed heavy line up. They will also make a significant improvement offensively and fans will no longer groan when Howard strikes out in three pitches.

St. Louis will win by having a very good, game-changing first baseman for another five years, $25 million-per, the money they were hoping to pay Pujols. And with Pujols likely walking, getting a more than capable player to fill most of that enormous hole would be almost too good of an option to pass up.

So if this crazy rumor ever re-surfaces, think about it. It may not be too crazy after all.


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