Let’s hope that any Angels fans jumping up and down in the sheer thrill of adding Albert Pujols did not sprain their ankles.
They could be forgiven if they did, since it was a sprained ankle that unraveled the last big contract that the Angels doled out to a slugging first baseman.
Granted, Albert Pujols is not Mo Vaughn. He’s in much better shape and he’s a much better hitter.
However, similarities can be made. Vaughn was signed as a veteran middle-of-the-order slugger to help balance a team that was young and talented and had postseason aspirations (if not in 1999, then in the immediate future). Placing Mo Vaughn around guys like Troy Glaus, Tim Salmon, Garret Anderson and Darin Erstad in the batting order seemed like it could carry the team far.
The farthest those hopes came was the distance between the field level and the bottom of the visiting dugout.
On Opening Day after Vaughn signed a five-year, $80 million deal to put on the periwinkle, he chased down a foul pop-up on the season’s first batter. As he approached the visitor’s dugout, he slipped and slid into it, severely spraining his left ankle in the process.
The injury seemed to nag him all season – and was a crutch for folks not believing Vaughn lived up to his millions. He did hit over 30 home runs and had over 100 RBI in each his two years in Anaheim, fans expected the world – or the World Series – and they didn’t get it.
Vaughn only played two seasons as an Angel, missing the entire 2001 season due to injury, and became a lightning rod for the team’s continued failures of reaching the playoffs.
Of course, we’re not wishing the same ill on Pujols or the Angels. We’re just making a correlation.
Be careful what you wish for.