How Albert Pujols Fits Into This Mets/Madoff Mess

Pujols and Cardinals have a short window to reach agreement on a contract

Last week's myriad revelations about the intertwining of the Mets and Bernard Madoff probably left a lot of Mets fans a little happier than you might expect.

Every time another anvil dropped from the heavens onto the heads of Fred and Jeff Wilpon, it was another reason to believe that the Mets would be delivered from the owners who have matched their moments of success with mindboggling failures. New owners would bring a new management style that could actually result in the Mets winning something other than most comical franchise in baseball for the first time in a good, long while.

Alas, even this silver lining has a dark cloud for the Amazins. The nature of the court battle in front of the Wilpons as well as their understandable desire to hold onto as much money as possible means that this isn't going to be settled anytime soon. The 2011 season will play out with this case as a backdrop, although given the already stuffed payroll the lack of spending money probably won't be a tremendous factor. That's not true about next offseason, however.

We know Sandy Alderson has been persistent in his warnings that the Mets are going to cut payroll in the future, but what else can a good corporate soldier say when his bosses are bobbing in the straits that the Wilpons find themselves in right now? Unless there's a new person signing the checks, there's going to be a spending freeze in Queens and that means they'll potentially miss out on one of the few chances that the franchise will have to change directions in the next few years.

Albert Pujols is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2011 season. He and the Cardinals are negotiating on an extension right now, but Pujols has set the start of Spring Training as the drop-dead date and the two sides aren't thought to be close to a deal. Buster Olney of ESPN (subscription article) says he's asking for "Mount Everest money," which doesn't mean that he's looking to be paid in Tibetan currency. It means an A-Rod style contract that breaks the bank of the team offering it up.

With a profitable cable network and new stadium screaming for non-Shake Shack reasons for people to go inside, the Mets should be one of the teams in position to offer up a contract like that to Pujols. It's not just because of the losses to Madoff or the potential judgment against the Wilpons, either. Selling the team, even a portion of it, is hampered by any move that dramatically changes the cost of doing business and it is clear that keeping that prospect alive is going to be a major priority for the Mets at this point.

For now, we'll hold off on discussing if it is the wisest course of action and focus instead on the fact that they might not even be able to bid on a player who would have wide-ranging, positive influences on the franchise.

Almost as wide-ranging as the effects of the decision to make Bernie Madoff the patron financial saint of the Mets, in fact.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for You can follow him on Twitter.

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