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Reds nemesis Pujols no longer in NL Central

Reds nemesis Pujols no longer in NL Central

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Reds nemesis Pujols no longer in NL Central
DALLAS -- Maybe Reds pitchers will sleep a little better next season knowing that superstar Albert Pujols became another division's problem.

Pujols moved out of the National League Central on Thursday morning, when the free agent defected from the Cardinals for the American League and the Angels with a 10-year, $250 million contract.

While the Reds made no moves at the Winter Meetings, perhaps their chances of winning the NL Central improved.

"I think it's a positive. When they lose a guy of that stature, it's pretty amazing," said Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, who drafted and developed Pujols when he ran the Cardinals' baseball operations.

During his 11-year career, all with St. Louis, Pujols did a robust job of bashing the Reds, as he batted .350 with 46 home runs, 143 RBIs, 52 doubles and a 1.072 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 172 games.

It doesn't mean that the Cardinals will become the division doormat, quite the contrary in fact. St. Louis still has Lance Berkman, who has 52 homers, 143 RBIs and a .315 lifetime average vs. the Reds over 162 career games.

The Cardinals still have rotation ace Chris Carpenter, and will be getting Adam Wainwright back after he missed all of 2010 with an elbow injury. Yadier Molina will be back behind the plate.

So the Reds should have some spirited battles with the Cardinals next season. But the rivalry will certainly feel different with manager Tony La Russa gone, now followed by Pujols.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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