Albert Pujols in an Orioles jersey: There's no way, right?

There is plenty of optimism in Baltimore right now with the Orioles set to start spring training next week. And why not? The rebuilt Birds brought in Mark Reynolds, Derrek Lee, Kevin Gregg and Vladimir Guerrero. Fans can already taste the oh-so sweet flavor of .500 baseball.

Meanwhile, it's doom and gloom in St. Louis. It appears the Cardinals and three-time National League MVP Albert Pujols won't agree on a extension by the Feb. 16 deadline set by Pujols. He wants to stay in St. Louis, but all bets are off when teams start dropping Brink's trucks from helicopters onto your front lawn.

Interestingly enough, the Orioles keep being mentioned as one of a handful of teams that are expected to vie for Pujols' services when he hits the open market next winter (along with the Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Nationals, Red Sox and Yankees). This blows my mind.

I know the Orioles made a token effort to sign Mark Teixeira a couple of years ago -- what does it say about inflated salaries that Teixeira getting a $150 million offer from the Orioles can be considered a token effort? -- but I have trouble envisioning them outbidding the big boys for one of the best players in baseball.

I doubt Peter Angelos has been stashing all of his mesothelioma money in a Pujols-shaped piggy bank. I mean, remember how much credit he got for spending a few extra million to get Guerrero? You think he's going to spend $250-plus million on a new first baseman.

Still, when a respected baseball insider such as SI's Jon Heyman keeps touting the Orioles as contenders for Pujols' services, you can't help but imagine the possibilities, no matter how remote they might be.

Anyway, we're about nine months -- and maybe even an elusive season of winning baseball -- away from having to worry about the Orioles chatting it up with Pujols, so let's shift our focus back to spring training. The guys over at Orioles Insider are talking about more realistic things such as darkhorse contenders for the Orioles' roster.

Instead of ordering your white and orange Pujols jersey, go check it out.

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