Billy Beane Walks Away Winner From Holliday Trade

Alex KerstetterContributor IJuly 24, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 11:  Matt Holliday #5 of the Oakland Athletics bats against the Minnesota Twins during a Major League Baseball game on June 11, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

There are a few things you can count to happen every July.  Fireworks, the Tour de France, and Billy Beane to shake up the baseball playoff race with a blockbuster trade.

Like clockwork, Mr. Beane insured that this July would be no different from past trade deadlines.  As he unloaded Oakland's premier winter off-season acquisition to the Cards for a couple months in exchange for top three prospects.

One of those prospects names just happened to be Brett Wallace, who a couple hours ago was the Cardinals top prospect not named Colby Rasmus.

Wallace had been tearing up the minors for the Cardinal's A,AA,AAA affiliates and it looked as though he was on the fast track to Busch Stadium.  For those who aren't familiar with Wallace, he can hit for a solid average and has exceptional power to all fields along with a great glove at third.

It seems strange that the Cardinals would deal their best prospect for Matt Holliday, who essentially will only be in St. Louis at most three months.  Holliday is a Scott Boras client making it highly unlikely that he will sign during the reminder of the season.

To do such a deal the Cards must have felt an uncomfortable about their hold on the NL Central, suggesting that they suspect the Cubs to get hot in the second half.  I also suspect they wanted to give Albert Pujols some protection.

Besides Wallace the A's acquired CF Shane Peterson and RHP Clayton Mortenson.  Peterson was St. Louis' 2nd round selection last year after they drafted Wallace, and Mortenson was St. Louis' 2007 2nd round pick.

Both players have good projectability to go along with the stud Wallace.

Here are the trio’s numbers in the minors so far this year.  Wallace in AAA .293/.346/.423 with six HR and 19 RBI.  Before being promoted he had five HR to go along with 16 RBI in AA.

Peterson in AA .284/.338/.405 with one HR and seven RBI, like Wallace he split time between to levels making his numbers less impressive but he did have 6 HR and 39 RBI in A before being promoted. 

Mortensen has pitched only in AAA this year going (7-6) with a 4.37 ERA.  He has recorded 82 K in 105 IP.

All three will probably stay in the A's minor league system for the rest of the year, but I wouldn't be surprised by the least if Wallace got a couple AB's in a September call-up. 

The A's now have a loaded minor league infield as Wallace joins A's top prospects Chris Cater and Jemile Weeks.

Holliday was hitting .286/.378/.454 with 11 HR and 54 RBI.  The Cards will look to him to protect Albert Pujols and drive in runs down the playoff stretch.

This deal has the possibility of helping both teams out tremendously, one in the short run and the other in the long run.  But when we look back a couple years from now will we see it as a deal that helped propel the Cards to a WS in a few months are as one that helped Oakland assemble the best infield in the AL West.

Only time will tell.