Is Matt Holliday the Right Man for the St. Louis Cardinals?

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IJuly 24, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 04:  Matt Holliday #5 of the Oakland Athletics walks back to the dugout after fouling out against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the sixth inning during a Major League Baseball game on May 4, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

It was supposed to happen last season for Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. Matt Holliday was slated to dawn the St. Louis red in 2008. Alas, things don't always work out according to plan.

Oh, what could have been.

That was the past, and now the present has come and delivered an early Christmas present for the St. Louis Cardinals—a 6'4" 235 pound package named Matt Holliday.

After having a miserable several months to open up the 2009 campaign for the Oakland Athletics, Holliday has now turned it up a notch in the summer months to significantly help his trade value.

Maybe it was because he changed leagues, but Holliday is glad he's back in the NL.

"I'm extremely excited to be back in the National League, to be back in a pennant race," said Holliday. "This is a great team, a great organization."

Currently batting .286 with 11 home runs and 54 RBI, he's certainly an offensive machine. His incredible 2007 season that dubbed ridiculous offensive numbers that included a .340 AVG, 36 home runs, and 137 RBI, only adds evidence to his slugging prowess.

Tony La Russa knows just how much this addition helps his club.

"It's a heck of a move for our club," said La Russa. "There are guys who are going to lose at-bats, but they're excited because he improves our club. We'll be tough to pitch to."

The Cardinals had to give up their young slugging third baseman Brett Wallace to acquire Holliday, as well as outfielder Shane Peterson and right-hander Clayton Mortensen.

As much as Holliday brings to the table, one has to wonder if St. Louis still made the right move in not trying to trade for pitching ace Roy Halladay.

I know what you're saying.

Halladay can only help the club once every five days, whereas Holliday can provide consistent protection for sluggers Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick.

However, Holliday has been known to go on offensive slumps for extended periods of time during the season. He had breakout seasons in 2006 and 2007, but had a disappointing 2008 campaign.

Blame it on switching leagues or just blame it on a down season, but the fact remains that he couldn't quite make the adjustment. Now he's in a new city and there sure is going to be pressure to perform behind the bat of reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols.

As much as the Blue Jays were asking for in return for Halladay, it was still going to take some of St. Louis' future in order to get the deal done.

In an era when reliable pitching is at a premium, Halladay is as sure of a bet that there is on the mound.

Sporting nearly 2,000 innings pitched, 1,400 strikeouts, 44 complete games, 12 shutouts, and an ERA under 3.50; he's a workhorse on the bump.

St. Louis' offense has been anemic to say the least at times during the last couple of years, but the odds are against a team trying to constantly slug it out against the rest of the league. Pitching is what really is needed in trying to compete for a world championship.

Don't get me wrong, it's not as if the Redbirds have a terrible pitching staff. However, with Todd Wellemeyer blowing up bigger than the Hindenburg and Kyle Lohse struggling to come back from his strained forearm, adding Halladay would relieve the pressure on the entire rotation.

If the starting rotation was solidified with Halladay, the sluggers in the lineup wouldn't have to feel like they have to win the game every night. The Cardinals have arguably the best hitter in the game in their lineup, as well.

Holliday adds significantly more offensive firepower, but it is not as if the Cardinals ONLY had Pujols to bring in the offense.

Ryan Ludwick has comparable numbers to Holliday with a .273 AVG, 16 home runs, and 61 RBI. He's really stabilized himself after a miserable comeback from the disabled list, but still has been consistent through the month of July with eight multi-hit games, five home runs, and 23 RBI.

The trade for Holliday is still great for the Cardinals, but only time will tell if he will produce in St. Louis. Giving up a huge prospect in Brett Wallace is obviously high risk, high reward, but the Cardinals needed to make a move.

However, did St. Louis make the right one in dealing for Holliday and not Halladay?

Quotes attributed to