Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon — as well as the entire organization — has come under fire in recent days for their handling of the Albert Pujols situation. The controversy is largely coming from former MLB players, saying that the Angels were in the wrong for unceremoniously designating the baseball legend for assignment.
However, from the Angels perspective, this was a easier decision than it was made out to be. Pujols wanted to be a full-time player, whether that be at first base or designated hitter. Meanwhile, the Angels have a first baseman and a designated hitter that are younger and producing at better rates than Pujols. Since he was unwilling to accept a bench role, this was the only option.
Maddon gave some insight into his and the front office’s decision-making with regard to Pujols’ release, according to Jayson Stark of The Athletic:
“It’s one of those situations where it could have been done differently had it happened in spring training, or even last offseason,” Maddon said. “There’s different ways to go about it. And had Albert decided that he did not want to play this year, then you could have possibly avoided this completely.
“But the fact that he … wanted to play first base, then you have to make an organizational decision. And it’s difficult. It is absolutely difficult when you are faced with having to make a decision of this magnitude.”
Then the real conclusion (by last week) was that we had to get Jared Walsh in there at first base consistently. And Ohtani as the DH, based on a lot of different reasons that you’re recognizing right now. And Albert really not being satisfied with being a bench player. So that’s really what it comes down to. It’s honestly no more complicated than that.”
Perhaps the Angels could have done a better job at giving Pujols a more deserving send-off. However, as long as Pujols wants to play — and given his pedigree it’s hard to blame him — it was going to be difficult to let him be on the roster any longer. Put very simply, Pujols was not as good as the other players at his positions.
So now, the Angels can move forward with the players they have and are excited about. Meanwhile, Pujols can search for a team who is in need of a surefire Hall of Famer to play first base or designated hitter.
Jared Walsh had near-perfect night in Angels win
Jared Walsh had been remarkable since the move back to first base. Monday night was perhaps the best game of his career. In addition to great defense, Walsh went 4-for-4 with a walk and two RBI’s, falling just a triple shy of the cycle.