Predicting Albert Pujols’s 2012 team is fast becoming a favorite dalliance of sportswriters everywhere, and the Chicago Tribune recently offered up a sampling. No surprise, but a majority see Pujols returning to the Cards next year.

An example:

Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun

Stand by for months of Albert angst in St. Louis and rampant free agent speculation in each of Major League Baseball’s large-market cities…and it will all be much ado about nothing.

If he isn’t a Cardinal in 2012, my three well-regarded Tribune Co. colleagues, I will come over and wax your cars.

The Cardinals will keep him if they have to tie him to a chair and bring in a cult deprogrammer to turn him against his agent, but that probably won’t be necessary. He knows the value of staying with one team for his entire career and the Cardinals know that he’s worth almost whatever they have to pay to keep him.

Frankly, I don’t even believe that Pujols and the team will honor their agreement to suspend negotiations until after the season. The compromise will be nine years for $253 million. How’s that for being specific?

A mild surprise, however: none of those pooled see Pujols with the Cubs next year. They were quick to throw out the Yankees, Red Sox, even the Royals and Nationals – but no mention of the Cubs. I’ll chalk that up to an effort to say something a little different – there’s no doubt that *if* Pujols reaches free agency, the Cubs will be a bidder.

  • greg

    Seems to me, though, that now Pujols leaving is significantly more likely. I’d be surprised if the Cards have a good year this year with Wainright gone…and with Carpenter posed to become a FA they’ll lose a lot of their ability to contend in this season and next. If the Cards have a bad season, I feel like they’re less willing to buy and he’ll be more willing to walk

    • Ace

      Eh – I’m not sure a lost season or two would change the Cardinals’ mind about bringing back Pujols for 8 or 10.

      • wax_eagle

        I think there are only 2 circumstances in which he leaves

        1. The Cardinals make an offer so stupid low that it offends him in every way and he walks out and refuses to negotiate. No team with the means to keep their superstar would do this, its disrespectful to the fans and to their other players.

        2. They struggle this year and trade off all of their valuable players. This too won’t happen as they seem to be committed to long term success with their current core. The main problem will lie in whether they can keep Carpenter, whether Wainwright can get and stay healthy, and whether Duncan can keep working his voodoo on struggling pitchers young and old each and every year.

        If neither of these conditions are met Pujols takes a bit less money to stay with the Cards.