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By now, you’ve heard that St. Louis Cardinals first baseman/superstar Albert Pujols left yesterday’s game against the Royals after a collision at first base. His wrist bent awkwardly, and I’m sure your first thought was the same as mine: Derrek Lee.

In early 2006, Derrek Lee was on the brink of stardom. He was fresh off of an all universe season in 2005, and he was raking in the early season – something Lee had never really done in his career. That, of course, was before the man who should have been a Cub, Rafael Furcal, slammed into Lee, wrecking his wrist, his season, and maybe his career. Lee was never the same after that injury.

And now, word is breaking that Pujols has a small fracture in his wrist/forearm. He’s expected to be out 4-6 weeks, but that’s the least of his – and Cardinal fans’ – worries. The comparison to Lee may prove unfair. After all, Lee broke his right wrist, and Pujols broke his left. And, while Lee was Pujols-like in 2005, Pujols has been Pujols-like for a decade.

But, with a decision about how much money to commit to a 31-year-old Pujols looming at the end of the year, Pujols’ break might prove more costly than Lee’s.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the break takes the Cubs out of the Pujols sweepstakes completely. Sure, he’ll almost certainly come back this year, and he’ll probably resume his march toward immortality. Pujols, in his career, has been two things: dominant and dependable. But the Cubs can’t afford to commit $250 million to a presumption that this wrist injury will not irrevocably alter Pujols’ career trajectory. It sounds reactionary, but alloting that much cash to an aging star – even one who burns as brightly as Pujols – is probably a risk the Cubs can no longer afford to take.

A lot can change in a couple months, so I reserve the right to change my mind as more information comes out. But, for now, let’s just say that, somewhere, Prince Fielder is grinning. Widely. And it isn’t because of the double-fudge brownie platter sitting in front of him.

Well, not just because of the double-fudge brownie platter.

  • BakerBat

    ACE. How do you write so much stuff?

    It’s all good by the way.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

      Thanks. I do what I can.

  • Jeff

    I would think this almost guarantees that Pujols is a Cardinal past this season. Even if he comes back, it’s not like he is sure to be 100%, and he means more to St. Louis than just his on field production. Every other player I’ve seen with wrist injuries has lingering problems, at least for a season or two after the injury, so I think everyone is going to be cautious on this one
    . I also think Prince is slowly playing himself into the 200 million dollar category, and this injury only speeds up the process. If only one of the big name, power hitting first baseman is truly healthy this offseason, and he’s left handed, and 27? The Cubs might be out of the bidding for both before the offseason even begins.

  • Fishin Phil

    Yahoo sports is reporting it is his forearm. I would think that would make for a quicker, more complete recovery than a wrist.

    I am not a doctor, do not play one on TV, and did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

      I could see that making a difference – depending on where it is – but, here’s my non-doctor question: aren’t all breaks of the “wrist” a break of the really high part of the forearm?

      • Fishin Phil

        We really need a doctor here at BN. I kind of think of it as anything involving a a moving joint (wrist, elbow, ankle, knee, etc.) has got to be worse than a break that only involves a straight piece of bone.

        Again, I’m just guessing.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

          I agree. I’m just saying (and a quick scan of Wikipedia concurs) that the “wrist” is kind of a fungible term that could include the joint, but also the end parts of the forearm. So if he broke the end part of his forearm, I wonder how “wristy” that is.

          • http://BleacherNation Bric

            Fungible… the adjective for a fungo bat. In any case, regardless of the severity of the injury, it’s clear he’s not gonna get his 8 year 300 mil deal that he was asking for 3 months ago. If Sori’s contract has proven anything, it’s that production declines drastically once you hit 32 or 33 (and I’m still not sure how old either of these guys really are). So any contract to him for more than five years is essentially hoping for 2 or 3 more years of solid production while basically giving him 100 mil a year on an 96 month payment plan. Shoulda re-upped with the Cards when he had the chance.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

              Also Funyuns.

        • Michigan Goat

          I think the big concern with “wrist” breaks are ligament, tendons, and tissue damage. I remember that being the problem with DLee’s recovery. If Albert does come back strong his agent and PR people will have to work overtime to convince a team to sign him… stay away Cubs!

  • Michigan Goat

    If he does not come back and tear the stitches off the ball, I wonder what he will be offered. I will take sinister pleasure if he takes a deal smaller than the 200+M the Cards were supposedly offering before the season.

  • CUB5

    10 games back of Cards/Brewskis. Maybe we can make up some ground with our healthy squad…oh wait.

  • Mike S

    Ace,

    Where do we stand on Prince Fielder? Do we offer him a big contract and if we do, will he take the Cubs money? Or do we lower payroll and try to spread money around?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

      This certainly muddies things. It’s entirely possible now that Prince’s price tag goes up knowing that Pujols is a risk. I think the Cubs will kick the tires on Fielder at a minimum, and might even make him a market offer. He would definitely come here if the money was right, but I’m not sure that a team like the Nats won’t come out of nowhere and blow everyone out of the water a la Werth.

  • Dave

    He’s going to regret turning down the 8/240(?) offer the Cards made.
    Wasn’t it Cliff Floyd who had a wrist injury that destroyed what was left of his career?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

      Yes.

  • TSB

    knowing Hendry, damaged goods will add a year and ten million to the Pujol’s offer.

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