Albert Pujols for Ryan Howard. Straight up. Sounds like the kind of blockbuster deal that's made during the second week of the fantasy baseball season or during the franchise mode in MLB 2K10. A report on ESPN had rumors swirling that the Phillies and Cardinals were shopping the idea of swapping the two former (and current) NL MVPs.
The statistics of the two superstars are both astounding. Pujols in 2009--.327 AVG, 47 HR, 135 RBI (64 SO and the league MVP). Howard in 2009--.279 AVG, 45 HR, 141 RBI (186 SO). Home runs are about the same, RBIs are about the same, but it's the strikeouts and batting average that stand out. Howard nearly tripled Pujols' strikeout total and had a .041 lower batting average. Pujols is the best position player in the game right now and is one of the greatest hitters of all time. Statistically speaking, this deal doesn't make sense.
One possible reason that the Cardinals may trade Pujols is the fact that he will be a free agent in 2011 and the Cards may not be able to afford him. People may be forgetting that Ryan Howard is due to be a free agent in 2011 as well and will command top dollar too. Now, Howard may not be looking for (or deserving of) a record-breaking contract like the one Pujols is expected to receive, but he certainly won't come cheap. If the Cardinals were looking for a cheap replacement for Pujols (which doesn't exist in any capacity, cheap or not) they're not going to find it in Howard.
Now, I love Ryan Howard. He is a great player and I'm proud to have him on my team, but if I were offered Albert Pujols, I would do it in a heartbeat, I'd be stupid not to. Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is vehemently denying the reports, but he did the same thing with the speculation that he was looking at acquiring Roy Halladay, so I'm taking his denials with a grain of salt.
If this deal were to happen it would be, without question, the biggest deal in baseball history. But this isn't ESPN's fantasy baseball and even if it were, a smart fantasy owner would want slightly more for Fat Albert.