Friday, July 24, 2009

Last Holliday

No, it's not an article about that wonderful Queen Latifah film.

It is an article about what I feel is the biggest mistake the Cardinals have made in recent memory. This post may drone on for a bit, which should make up for my general lack of participation on this blog, however I only post when I feel strongly about something, and I feel the need to make my opinion known on this matter. John Mozeliak did make one good move this week, shipping the pathetic mess known as Chris Duncan off - and actually getting a player in return instead of the bag of used jockstraps we deserved. And then he goes and does this.

Mark my words, the deal for Matt Holliday this afternoon will come back to haunt this team for years to come. First of all, with due respect to the Brewers and Cubs, the Cardinals seemed to be on their way to winning, or at least competing for, another Central Division crown this year with or without this move. Adding Holliday probably makes this a definite, however, it does not put us up there as World Series contenders. Not by a long shot. We're likely going to play the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs, barring anything unforseen, and we still don't have what it takes to beat their pitching in a short series. So, what have we gained? Sure, a solid bat (and that's all he is - solid. Not great, but solid) behind Albert and Ludwick is nice, but for a two-month rental? The chances of us re-signing this Scott Boras client is slim to none. Maybe we offer and he agrees to arbitration at around 15 million next year, but that's it. Furthermore, I don't think that a player of Holliday's ilk is worth that kind of money, especially for the long-term deal he'll be seeking.

So, what have we lost, you might ask?

Well, for starters, we lose a 3B/OF/1B prospect by the name of Brett Wallace, who has been compared to Ryan Braun both offensively and defensively and is by all accounts Major League-ready. He may make a few blunders in the field but if his numbers could be compared to Braun's, I think Caleb knows that anyone in their right mind should take that and run with it, especially given the fact that his numbers would come at the price of peanuts for years to come compared with veteran talent putting up similar numbers. Our slugger of the future, down the drain.

We also lose Clay Mortensen, who is also close to, if not already, Major League ready. One of our top starting pitchers in the minors who also had a cup of coffee earlier this year with the big club. He's 7-6 in AAA this year with an ERA just over 4. However, I guarantee Oakland's scouts see something special in him to make him a part of this deal.

I don't know much about this Shane Peterson character, and maybe he's just a throw-in but we'll see how that all pans out for him.

This PLUS we are on the hook for around 5 million of Holliday's 2009 salary. Let's also keep in mind that a month or so ago, the Cardinals were inquiring about Holliday and they said "We want Wallace." GM John Mozeliak said no. Fast forward to today, and we give up not only Wallace, but two other talents, PLUS pick up some salary. So apparently by waiting, we managed to get a worse deal for the same player. Billy Beane has done it to us again, ladies and gentlemen. Fleeced us like a thief in the night. Remember the Dan Haren trade? Billy Beane is smarter than anyone in the Cardinal organization and he has pulled the wool over our eyes yet again. Mozeliak must be the worst negotiator in the history of baseball.

Mozeliak: We want Matt Holliday.
Beane: Great. We want Brett Wallace.
Mozeliak: No deal.
Mozeliak: We still want Matt Holliday.
Beane: We still want Brett Wallace.
Mozeliak: Is that your final offer?
Beane: We also want a couple other guys.
Mozeliak: Uh, huh.
Beane: And you pick up some salary.
Mozeliak: Deal!

It's not that I hate Matt Holliday; I think he's a good player. Again, good, not great. .286/11/54 isn't great. Mark DeRosa has comparable numbers. I just think that this trade will start a sequence of events as follows:

Cards aquire Matt Holliday
Cards lose in first round of the playoffs in 2009
Matt Holliday becomes a free agent this offseason
Cardinals are stuck with Nick Stavinoha or rookie Daryl Jones in LF and Joe Thurston/Brian Barden/David Freese at 3B next year, barring a F/A signing (which, if history is any judge, would not be for an "impact" player at either position)
Cards finish in 3rd place or lower in 2010
Cards struggle in 2011 with another poor team, resulting in Albert Pujols being traded for prospects similar to what we just gave up for Matt Holliday
Cards suck in 2012 with their rookie squad out there every day
Cards finally get back above .500 in 2013 as the young studs mature

So that's just great. 3 years of futility await us. At least maybe I can go back to getting tickets at the gate and won't have to mortgage my house for season tickets for the next couple years. If I'm wrong I'll eat my hat - I just remember how I laughed and laughed at Milwaukee over the Sabathia trade last year and here we are with the shoe on the other foot. They better win it all this year, and I think that's what they are shooting for, but I think this whole thing was a big, big mistake.


  1. It took me a while to figure out what ".286/11/54" stood for. Then I realized I was looking at batting average, home runs, and RBIs, and I died a little inside.

    That said, I don't get this move, either. I don't see Pujols getting traded as a result, as it would send the wrong message to St. Louis fans to trade the best player in baseball (a home-grown, face-of-the-franchise talent, no less) for anything less than a marquee player or two UNLESS there were no hope of re-signing Pujols. But I do think that this was a bad time to mortgage the future in St. Louis.

    Frankly, this move only sort of makes sense if the Cards expect the Cubs to rebound from a poor first half. The NL Central, as usual, is a meat grinder this year; it's not likely that second place will result in a playoff berth. And the Cubs got atrocious first half production from Soriano, Bradley, and Soto (who rebounded only to land on the DL) and saw Ramirez's shoulder injury result in 46 games of Aaron Miles, he of the 30 OPS+, so there is plenty of room for improvement on Chicago's north side.

    Perhaps the Cardinals front office is, like me, optimistic that the Cubs will rebound and, if so, a move or two to strengthen the team down the stretch seems to make sense. But between DeRosa and Holliday, the Cards have mortgaged the farm, as it were. Time will tell whether or not the moves were worth the prices, but my initial reaction is to agree with Steve, from both a business and a fan perspective.

  2. For starters, I don't do the whole WAR thing. Sorry to dissapoint you!

    Pujols has said time and time again that money, while a factor, is not the most important factor in his team of choice. Winning is. With crap around him, he'll walk...and clearly the Cardinals should trade him rather than just lose him to free agency when his contract is coming due. So that's where that is coming from.

    But yeah, in general, I don't like it and everyone here seems to be shortsighted and sees this as a ticket to a World Championship, which I guess is the point of the move. I respectfully disagree with that point of view.


    I forgot about the draft picks if Holliday leaves, which could make this a bit better of a move than I initially gave it credit for being. At the least, I found this post to be an interesting read.

  4. I can't knock the Sabathia trade. He was a monster for us last year and the pieces we gave up for him haven't done anything yet.

    As for Holliday, I don't know. If Pujols cares about winning foremost this shows that management is willing to try things. Granted it's a worse deal than the one the could've made earlier but they didn't know how badly they would need a bat earlier.

    The one problem this puts the Cards in is this: they have to win the Central now or else this looks like a complete waste.