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Inside the Phillies: Was Angels' spending spree worth it?

We know who the big winner was at baseball's winter meetings in Dallas, and it does not matter what happens in 2012, 2013, or any of the eight years beyond that.

Albert Pujols and the Angels agreed to a landmark 10-year, $254 million deal. (Alex Gallardo/AP)
Albert Pujols and the Angels agreed to a landmark 10-year, $254 million deal. (Alex Gallardo/AP)Read more

We know who the big winner was at baseball's winter meetings in Dallas, and it does not matter what happens in 2012, 2013, or any of the eight years beyond that.

Albert Pujols signed for 10 years and more than a quarter of a billion dollars with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and that's roughly $70 million more than owner Arte Moreno paid for the team in 2003.

The Angels, thanks to the expected aid of a $3 billion television deal with Fox, also paid pitcher C.J. Wilson $77.5 million for five years and immediately improved their odds of winning the World Series next season.

With plenty of hot-stove moves still to be made, let's take a quick look back and a glance ahead as the offseason creeps toward the new year and next season. We'll do so with a series of questions.

Was the Angels' spending spree worth it? The Angels got the best hitter and the best pitcher on the free-agent market and zoomed past the Texas Rangers as the team to beat next season in the American League West.

An interesting question here - and it's one that also applies to the Phillies - is what would make the Pujols and Wilson deals worth it for Moreno and the Angels?

One World Series title? Two?

The Phillies invested $320.75 million covering 14 years of contracts when they traded for Roy Halladay, extended Ryan Howard's deal, and signed Cliff Lee.

You know they want at least one World Series title out of those deals and probably two.

The Angels would have to win at least that many titles to make their $331.5 million investment in Pujols and Wilson worthwhile.

Based on money alone, it would appear the Phillies made the better long-term investments. Yes, Pujols is better than Howard, but he will be past the age of 35 in six of the 10 years he is with the Angels. It's important to also remember that a lot of people believe Pujols is older than that, an issue that was raised with Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto after the deal was finished.

"I will say that Albert Pujols' age to me is not a concern," Dipoto said Thursday in Dallas. "He's an honorable man. I think he's a very respectful man and I'm not a scientist. I can't tell you [how old] he is. But I can tell you he hits like he's 27. I see Albert Pujols as the most consistent offensive player of his generation. I don't think we've seen his last great days or obviously I wouldn't be sitting here."

We certainly will have seen Pujols' last great days by 2020, when he'll be at least 40 or older, if you believe he was born before 1980.

Howard, on the other hand, will be only 36 when the Phillies will have the option of exercising a $10 million option in 2016.

Wilson, meanwhile, is not in the same class of staff ace as either Halladay or Lee, although he is younger.

What about the Cardinals now? St. Louis has won two of the last six World Series but still has to feel like a jilted lover at the end of a Hollywood marriage. Pujols and the Cardinals sure looked good together for all those years, but now St. Louis must move on without baseball's best player.

The Cardinals should be all right next year and could actually benefit in the long run by not having $25 million per year tied up in one player. Lance Berkman is going to replace Pujols at first base next season and he may be coming off a better year.

A baseball source said St. Louis may pursue free-agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said they've inquired about outfielder Carlos Beltran.

Regardless of what the Cardinals do the remainder of the offseason, they should have better pitching in 2012 with the expected return of Adam Wainwright to an already solid rotation.

Where does Fielder land? Whatever team signs Prince Fielder may actually get the more productive of the two coveted first basemen in this free-agent market because he is only 27 years old and should have at least five good years remaining. Interestingly, the Miami Marlins have not ruled out signing Fielder after falling short on their bid for Pujols.

The Washington Nationals have been linked to Fielder, but keep insisting they're not interested. The Cardinals also said they are not interested in replacing Pujols with Fielder, who does scare some teams because of his big body. Toronto is a potential landing spot for Fielder.

Who else is still out there? Three of the best remaining free agents - Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson and Roy Oswalt - are Phillies.

Only one of the three has a chance of returning to the team, and it does not appear as if Rollins' agent, Dan Lozano, is going to be able to persuade any big-league club to give his client the five-year deal he was seeking. The most likely scenario remains that Rollins returns to the Phillies, which is where he belongs.

The Nationals, silent at the winter meetings, may have an interest in Oswalt after watching Mark Buerhle sign with Miami and Wilson with the Angels.

Madson, meanwhile, may be best served by taking a one- or two-year deal and testing the free-agent waters again next year, when the market may be more suited for the four-year, $44 million his agent Scott Boras was seeking.

The best non-Phillies still on the free-agent market are Cuddyer, Aramis Ramirez, Josh Willingham, Jason Kubel, Edwin Jackson, Hiroki Kuroda, and Francisco Cordero.

The Phillies were linked to Cuddyer, Ramirez, Willingham, and Kubel at different stages of this offseason, but it seems unlikely they'll pursue any of them unless they fail to sign Rollins.

Two international free agents - Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish and Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes - will also draw major attention and huge contracts once they are declared free agents.

What else might the Phillies do? After acquiring Halladay via trade two years ago, then signing Lee last year, there were a lot of people who thought general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was crying wolf when he said he didn't expect to make a major signing at these winter meetings.

The Phillies' major signing ended up being closer Jonathan Papelbon, and other than re-signing Rollins, the team's one other move with major-league implications may be the signing of a veteran lefty reliever such as George Sherrill.