Like many Cardinals baseball card collectors I decided to part ways with a fairly significant chunk of my Albert Pujols collection towards the end of the 2011 season, when his re-signing started to look murky at best, through the spring of 2012 when Angels fans were going crazy trying to find all the Pujols cardboard they could get their hands on. And now?
Just like Albert has become an albatross (I prefer Albertross) to the Angels winning much of many thing for the next decade, Angels collectors have suddenly found themselves stocked with Pujols cards that are plummeting in value. Many are starting to try to get out from underneath their cards before they fall much further. The resulting purge of Albertross cards has left the market on his cards considerably lower than when I last did much checking around Pujols cards in 2011.
So, I recently pulled off swapped out some "garbage" with an Angels collectors to help them move out from underneath two of their Pujols autographs. Garbage meaning, cards I figured to take a significant hit during the next year in terms of value. It was a nice package of a Ryan Braun auto, a pair of ARod autos, a Prince Fielder, and a Brian McCann, and package of Darin Erstads. I also had to part a Jim Edmonds. It had been awhile since I had pulled off a big trade, but here's what I got back in return:
2003 Topps Albert Pujols Autograph
I have always loved this Pujols autograph. On card from the base Topps set, but I either could not find one when I had the money and cards to buy or trade for one, or I found one and did not have enough to buy or trade. I actually found a few of these on Ebay while I was working on the trade and was shocked to see that these cards have a really hard time pushing the century mark in auctions. In fact, all most every non-premium autograph of Pujols is finishing under a Ben Franklin. Premiums still catch some good bucks, but not nearly as much as you would think.
One of the last cool low-print run Pujols cards I sold in 2011 was this cool 2008 Topps autograph card which was numbered out of 25 and was a sticker autograph.
At the time, I was able to sell the card for $250. Pretty nice price at the time, but it still was not the top of the line for Pujols cards. It was not hard to find Pujols autographs from his rookie year and extremely high end brands fetch another $100 over that price. In fact, most of his rookie autographs were much closer to the $500 range two years ago. Not anymore. My other new Pujols autograph:
2001 SP Chirography Albert Pujols
Surprisingly while working on this trade I found several copies of this card that barely crept over $200 which is considerably lower than the price the card used to sell for a few years ago. I never owned a copy of this Pujols rookie card, but am happy to add it to my collection for the price I picked it up at.
Honestly, as poorly as Pujols has played the past two years for the Angels, and the likelihood that his 10 year contract with Angels is likely to end, he is still a future Hall of Famer. Pujols had a great decade long run for the Cardinals and whatever happens during the next eight years with the Angels will have very little effect on the fact that Albert is going to have a plaque in Cooperstown at some point during his lifetime.
While many collectors are still pointing to the fact that Pujols could fall further, I think we are honestly to the point where his cards are getting to be really good bargains. There have been plenty of baseball players who played too long (Willie Mays and Rickey Henderson) and while collectors and baseball fans might occasionally talk about Rickey Henderson on the Dodgers or Willie Mays on the Mets, most remember the good points of those players careers.
At some point Pujols will retire and time will wash away whatever becomes of the Angels years. I would guess that he will mend fences with the Cardinals at some point and we will see Cardinals fans reengage with Pujols. It may take a long time, but if Vince Coleman can get a bobblehead after leaving the Cardinals for the (at the time) hated rival Mets, than Pujols can work his way back in too.