[Sorry for the delay, everybody--there's been no internet access at the Up household for most of the day.]
Derrick Goold seems to have a direct line into the recent bout of commenter angst re: the Albert Pujols contract. I haven't been able to get quite as worried about it as a lot of people have, because of its remoteness, but the contract I think about when I think about Albert Pujols in 2011 is the one Ichiro signed with the Mariners mid-2007.
What they have in common, I think, is the value they provide to their team off the baseball field, which in Ichiro's case led to a contract that was both really generous--I doubt he'd have seen a five year, $90 million deal outside of Seattle--and also particularly doable for his team. Ichiro's worth more to the Mariners, because of marketing, because of the blow it would be to their fanbase to lose an icon, than he would be to anybody else; Albert Pujols is worth a ton to everybody, but he's worth the most to the Cardinals, as the recent teeth-gnashing three years from his free agency date shows.
I think that gives them not only a mandate to resign him, but a competitive advantage. They'll be able to offer him more money than anybody else, non-Yankees/Sawx division, because they have to. As a last word on the subject, for now--because we're too far away to have much to talk about--I think it's fair to say that we have an idea of where the $15 million Chris Carpenter's going to make in 2011 will be going in 2012. Better keep developing those pitchers.
If he's willing to play in Japan I, personally, will act as his agent. I cannot think of a better player to star in Mr. Baseball 2.