-- Reaction from the Pujols side Wednesday came in the form of a statement from agent Dan Lozano:
"After engaging in discussions with the St. Louis Cardinals Organization, we have suspended further negotiations until after the conclusion of the 2011 season, due to today's self-imposed deadline. At the beginning of this process, Albert decided a timetable needed to be established in which we would negotiate. We exchanged proposals with the Cardinals during that time. While both parties were hopeful that an agreement could be reached, a difference of opinion in determining Albert's value simply could not be resolved. Albert's production over the last 10 years is nothing short of historic. He is not only the best player in baseball, and on his way to having a Hall of Fame career, but an iconic figure in sports. The expiration of today's deadline does not eliminate the possibility of Albert returning to the Cardinals in 2012, but simply delays negotiations until the conclusion of the Cardinals' season.
"Albert's decision to suspend negotiations until after the season is made out of respect to his teammates, coaching staff and the Cardinals Organization. He wants to prevent this issue from becoming a distraction throughout the year. Albert cares a great deal about his teammates, manager Tony La Russa, and his coaching staff and respects their ability to prepare each and every day. Albert has also decided that he will not discuss his contract status for the duration of the season, including Spring Training. He asks the media to please respect this request. Albert would also like to reassure the Cardinals Nation that he is determined to bring a World Championship back to the city of St. Louis. He feels as strongly as ever that this team has the potential to win the World Series. That alone is why he will not permit his contractual situation to become a distraction or take away from his ability to reach that goal."
-- One reason the Cardinals remain reasonably confident -- publically, at least -- that they can still retain Pujols is because of the tenor of the negotiations. "I don't think any bridges were burned in the process," general manager John Mozeliak said. "Looking toward next year, I don't think we put ourselves in a bad position."
-- Sometimes, enough isn't enough. As Cardinals Chairman of the Board Bill DeWitt Jr. reminded Wednesday, back when Pujols signed his current seven-year, $100 million deal with the Cards in February, 2004, it was considered a very, very big deal.
Now, as for any regrets during the current talks, which broke down and did not result in a new deal by Pujols' self-imposed noon deadline?
"I regret that that contract wasn't longer," DeWitt cracked. "I remember this specifically. Some of my contemporaries at MLB at the time said, 'That's a long contract.' I remember saying, 'It won't be long enough.' And here we are."
-- DeWitt on whether there is a parallel with the Yankees/Derek Jeter negotiations this past winter (Pujols is 31, Jeter 36): "I think one difference is where they are in their careers when they're hitting free agency. With Albert and the city, it does parallel. Ownership and the front office here are looking at the positive, we're not looking at the negative side through the media. I think there's a stark difference there."
-- Great line from ace Chris Carpenter as the ace pitcher was leaving after practice around 11:30 a.m. while walking by a group of reporters toward his car: "He's STILL not here?!" Speaking, of course, of Pujols.
Sunblock Day? While it may have felt colder to the Cardinals, it was a beautiful, 75-degree day here in Jupiter with plenty of sun.
Likes: Cameron Maybin ripping Panda Express ... and then reversing course when he found that one of the Padres' minority owners owns Panda Express. Very comical. ... Dave O'Brien, the excellent Braves beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, took a motorcycle ride with new manager Fredi Gonzalez. Then they pulled off the road, did an interview and the very well-done result is here. ... It was released last summer, but the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. re-issue is well worth it. ... A new Drive-By Truckers disc, Go-Go Boots. Haven't picked it up yet. Will soon. ... Mick Jagger was pretty impressive at the Grammy Awards on Sunday. ... Blue Valentine. Hard movie to watch, but Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling are terrific. ... The blackened grouper at the Abbey Road Bar and Grill in Jupiter. Still.
Dislikes: Went back to the rental car counter the other day to get a map, then walked back to what I thought was my Nissan Altima, opened the driver's side door ... and startled a man who was sitting behind the wheel preparing to leave. He wasn't trying to steal my car, though. Yep, it was me -- I walked up to the wrong vehicle.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Broken bottles broken plates
"Broken switches broken gates
"Broken dishes broken parts
"Streets are filled with broken hearts
"Broken words never meant to be spoken
"Everything is broken"
-- Bob Dylan, Everything is Broken