St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cardinals finally land big bats

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired Matt Holliday from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for three minor league prospects. Sounds pretty good for Redbirds fans, right? 

After all, Holliday is a three-time all-star and led the Rockies to a World Series just two years ago. He also will provide protection in the line-up for Albert, something we definitely needed. He certainly impressed in his first game with the Cards, going 4-5 with a double last night. When it comes to Matt Holliday, however, as well as Julio Lugo and Mark DeRosa, is the price-paid worth the results?

Holliday is owed more than $13 million this year, the final year of his contract, granted a significant portion of this contract has already been paid. Oakland also agreed to send the Cardinals 1.5 million to help pay Holliday's contract. Internally, the Cardinals believe they can persuade Holliday to resign with the team for less money because of the prestige factor associated with playing for the Cards. They were able to do this with Mark McGwire and Scott Rolen, and though it isn't inconceivable that they will be able to do this with Holliday, it is very possible he will test free agency and be lured away by more money. He is a Scott Boras client. Should he leave, and sign somewhere else, the Cardinals will get two first round "compensation picks". 

In order to get Holliday, the Cardinals had to give up AAA INF Brett Wallace, AAA SP Clayton Mortensen, and AA OF Shane Peterson. Wallace, who in many circles was considered the Cardinals best prospect, was hitting .293 for Memphis in only his second year of pro-ball. He was a two time winner of the Pac-10 Triple Crown  at Arizona State. Mortensen has been a streaky starter in AAA, going 7-6 with an 4.37 ERA. Peterson was also one of the Redbirds up-and-coming prospects with a talent for getting on base. 

If the Cardinals can re-sign Matt Holliday, I believe the trade will be worth it. We will have gotten a solid clean-up hitter to protect Albert for several seasons. 

If we cannot resign Holliday, I believe the trade will still be worth it. While we will never know what the future would have looked like with Wallace and Mortensen and Peterson wearing Red and Blue, we will have received two first round draft choices. Though drafting 18-22 year old's is far from a sure thing, it is safe to assume (hopefully) that one of the two first round selections will end up a major leaguer. Will they turn into a Matt Holliday? Who Knows? Probably not. Will they turn into a better player the Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen, or Shane Peterson? That is a better question.

Matt Holliday has also brought some unseen effects to the Redbirds. We now will have to attempt to fit four players (Holliday, Ryan Ludwick, Colby Rasmus, and Rick Ankiel) into an outfield that only fits three. Holliday's name will obviously be on the line-up card everyday. Ludwick's will, too. He's raised his average 40 points over the course of the last month or two. I have to imagine Colby Rasmus will be in CF every day too, as he is one of the leading candidates for the NL Rookie of the Year. 

That leaves out Ankiel. Before the 2009 season, it was expected this would be Ankiel's final season in St. Louis. After all, he was supposed to hit somewhere in the .280 neighborhood, with 25 homeruns. He, too, is a Boras client, and St. Louis likely would not have been able to pay him. Well, he's hitting about .225, with six homerun's. With the acquisition of Holliday, I expect this will be Ankiel's last season with the Redbirds, simply because there will be nowhere for him to play. No more how prolonged Ankiel's struggles are, no matter how many times he strikes out, the people of St. Louis will always have a special affinity for Rick. He was supposed to be the next great lefty on the mound. We all know what happened, there's no need to revisit it. After his struggles, he reinvented himself in the minor leagues, made something out of himself again, into a power hitter, and a great defensive outfielder. That kind of passion, dedication, and commitment is something the Cardinal fans appreciated. I am certain I am not the only fan sad to see Ankiel's days of roaming the St. Louis outfield nearing a close. 

Go Cards

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