La Russa: MLBPA forcing Pujols to ask for a record-setting contract

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa speaks to reporters before a game against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on August 13, 2010. La Russa who was given a two game suspension for his part in a bench clearing brawl during a game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati last week, will not manage the next two games. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Tony La Russa doesn’t believe that Albert Pujols is all about the money. He thinks it’s that damn Major League Baseball Players Association that is making Albert Pujols be all about the money.

From ESPN.com:

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Tuesday that he believes the Major League Baseball Players Association is attempting to “beat up” Albert Pujols and his agent in an attempt to get Pujols to sign a record-setting contract.

And that, La Russa said emphatically, “is bull—-. That’s not the way it should be.”

“I’m not saying that if I was a union representative I would do it differently,” the manager said. “I’m just saying I think it diminishes the other factors that a player looks at. … I think each negotiation should be based on what’s the best decision — taking everything into account, not taking one thing into account.”

But because the union sees Pujols as a player who can raise the salary bar, he’s under more pressure than your average player, La Russa said.

This sort of pressure has gone on for years, with many high-profile players, La Russa went on. But in Pujols’ case, he said, this was “not just arm-twisting. It’s dropping an anvil on your back through the roof of your house.”

La Russa said he had no specific evidence that Pujols was being pressured by the players union. But he said his many years in the game have made that “a guaranteed assumption. It’s gone on since I started managing. And I don’t think they’d deny it.”

I think the first sentence in that last paragraph sums up this situation nicely: La Russa has no evidence that the players union is pressuring Pujols.

Who knows, maybe La Russa is right and the union is pressuring players to get the most they can. But it’s not a stretch to think that the players and agents want to soak every last penny out of teams. Why wouldn’t they? If they’re lucky, players are able to land one, maybe two big contracts throughout their playing career, so you better believe they’re going to stretch the dollar amount as big as possible.

Besides, I don’t really see a benefit for the union to demand that players ask for as much money as possible. There’s already a natural order to the way contracts are done now. Player A makes X amount in 2010, then Player B makes a little more than what Player A made in 2011. Player C then makes a little more than Player B and the cycle never stops.

The union already has what it wants, so there’s no real need to put pressure on players. I think La Russa has just grown frustrated that this Pujols contract situation hasn’t been resolved and the players are set to report to spring training.

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