The increasingly irrelevant Buster Olney has desperately tried to revive his waning reputation as a baseball insider by “breaking” news of the most preposterous trade rumor you will ever hear.
According to Buster Olney, the Phillies have “internally” discussed a Ryan Howard-for-Albert Pujols swap. That’s right: Albert Pujols. No word from Buter as to the Cardinals’ thoughts on this situation, but it’s nice to know the Phillies have internally discussed whether they would be willing to trade Ryan Howard for the best player of his generation. I wonder if the White Sox would be willing to swap Jake Peavy for Tim Lincecum?
This is the lowest form of Internet journalism. A mostly fabricated story published solely for the purpose of drawing hits and generating conversation. You can make the case that I’m giving ESPN exactly what it wants by linking to the story and wasting my time posting about it, but Olney, who declared in a popular book that the end of the Yankees’ run came eight years before their most recent championship, deserves to be skewered.
Here is the “logic” behind these so-called “discussions”:
The logic for a Howard for Pujols swap, as discussed within the Phillies’ organization, could fall along these lines: Pujols, 30 years old, is eligible for free agency after the 2011 season, and early conversations about a contract extension have not led to any long-term deal. The expectation within baseball is that Pujols may ask for a deal that would rival, in annual value, the record-setting 10-year, $275 million deal that Alex Rodriguez negotiated with the Yankees in fall 2007.
If the Cardinals were to decide, at any point, that they could not afford to sign Pujols, they could consider dealing him, in the way the Toronto Blue Jays traded Roy Halladay, or the Minnesota Twins traded Johan Santana.
And Howard, who is just a couple of months older than Pujols, would not be a bad alternative. In the past four seasons, Howard has hit 198 homers and accumulated 572 RBIs, and has finished in the top five of the NL MVP race.
Here’s the public relations kicker: Howard was born in St. Louis, and is regarded as a hometown kid in that city.
How could the Cardinals possibly justify trading Pujols over money after they just gave nine digits to Matt Holliday? I know: by brining back hometown hero Ryan Howard, who has a lot of RBIs!?!?!?! Who even knew Howard was from St. Louis before this story? I seriously doubt he’s so highly regarded that he would be seen as suitable return for one of the greatest players of this generation.
And the Cardinals would consider this trade because Albert is going to be a free agent after two more seasons? How do we know Howard, a rather large fella with slow feet and poor contact skills, is going to be any good two years from now? We don’t. But we do know that he will be nowhere near as good as Pujols in the intervening two years.
I’m not saying Howard isn’t an outstanding player. Obviously he is. But he’s not Pujols. And Olney’s report that the Phillies would “consider” trading Howard for Pujols is an insult to Pujols, the Cardinals, baseball fans and the fabric of the universe.