Pujols and Cabrera are almost certain to be linked by friendship and talent for years to come. "What impresses me most is the way he works," Cabrera says of Pujols, "the seriousness with which he takes batting practice and his presence at home plate. He has a confidence not all hitters have."
Says Pujols of Cabrera, "He's a guy who's going to put up big numbers. Hopefully, he can stay healthy. He plays the game the right way. He loves this game, and I just told him I hope we could play on the same team one day. I hope he could be a Cardinal."
That won't happen soon. Pujols has a seven-year, $100 million contract that will keep him in St. Louis through 2010. Cabrera, whose contract was renewed at $370,000 this year, will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2009 season. Still, the notion of the duo on the same team is scary. "Those two in the same lineup?" Prior says. "That's not something I want to see."
When asked about the prospect of facing Pujols and Cabrera year after year as they help carry the game forward, Prior says, "You measure yourself as a pitcher against guys like them. I look at Greg Maddux, who's faced Barry Bonds something like a hundred times over his career, and I think what it might be like facing Pujols and Cabrera that many times. It's cool to think about all those battles and how you did against guys who might be in the Hall of Fame some day."