Moreno talks to ‘GQ’ about Albert, Napoli, etc. …
Among the highlights, Moreno said the Angels never did a background check on Albert Pujols‘ listed age (32) — and wouldn’t.
“We would never go there,” Moreno told GQ. “He’s been in the United States since he was 16. Somebody starts checking on your age, you start wondering, ‘Do we really want to have a relationship like this?'”
Asked about Pujols holding up through the tenure of his 10-year, $240 million contract, Moreno said: “We don’t look at one player, we look at 25 on the roster or nine on the field, and you just say: If he plays within these averages for our team, his averages are so much higher than anyone else’s that is playing right now. If you do have some erosion — let’s call it seven to 10 years of solid production, not superstar production — look what it still does for a franchise.”
As for the thought of him making $30 million as a 41-year-old ballplayer?
“Someone else asked me this, and I said, ‘I’ll tell you something: If he’s healthy enough and he’s playing for us, then I’m gonna just say, ‘Merry Christmas to all baseball fans,’ because we get to see one of the best players of our generation coming to bat,” Moreno responded.
Asked what allowed the Angels to commit so much to Pujols after not being able to reel in the likes of Carl Crawford and Mark Teixeira for less money, Moreno explained: “We’d just signed an 18-plus-year [TV deal, reportedly for $1.5 billion], through ’30, we have no debt, and we have a payroll that gives us all the flexibility to make the decisions we want to make. Still, I don’t think in a perfect world we really thought Albert was going to be available. They just won a championship in St. Louis, he had been there 11 years, and you think they’re gonna make a deal.”
Moreno was also asked about the less-successful 2010 offseason, when the Angels basically swapped a much-improved Mike Napoli for a diminished Vernon Wells. The Angels’ owner said his baseball people moved Napoli partly because they “felt Napoli’s arm was not gonna hold up for a season.”
“He was arbitration eligible, and the number he was asking for and what our people felt the value was,” Moreno added. “… Napoli caught less games for Texas than he caught for us the year before. I think [Rangers manager Ron] Washington did a great job [with] him. With Vernon, we felt that if he hits his average of 25 home runs, 80 to 90-plus RBIs, bats .260 to .280, you end up with a good player for four years at $16-plus million a year, [and] you’re not having to pay [a free agent for] a longer period of time. The book’s not closed on Vernon, you know. But that was the thought process.”