While Buster Olney raises the spectre of Todd Hundley smashing into Cliff Floyd (and nearly ruining the latter’s career in the process) when considering Albert Pujols’ chances of coming back 100% (ie. slim and none), the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Brian Burwell cheerfully declares, “don’t count me among the folks who believe that this ill-timed injury will put a major dent in Pujols’ offseason free agent plans.” (“he still will have plenty of opportunities in August, September and (hopefully) October to re-establish his power numbers and remind his suitors that he will be worth the money”).   If you’re not impressed with Burwell’s grasp of medical science, check out his thoughts on how Pujols’ absence is sort of a blessing in disguise. To wit, “here is a silver lining in the dark clouds of losing the multiple NL Most Valuable Player in the thick of the regular season when you are locked in a tight race for the NL Central Division, it is the fact that everyone gets to see a short test ride without Pujols in the lineup.”

Management gets to see if their winter gamble to not re-sign baseball’s best player to a long-term deal before he tested free agency was a stroke of negotiating genius or a colossal folly that will come back to haunt them.

They get to see if they have developed enough young talent in their farm system and acquired enough star power in their most recent forays into free agency (Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman) to make up for the short-term loss of Pujols in the heat of a division race. They get to see if a little luck falls their way and the likes of Freese, Nick Punto and Allen Craig — all on their way off the DL — provide them with enough short-term relief until Pujols heals and returns to full strength.