Matt Holliday's Acquisition Could Lock Up the NL Central for the Cards

Sam FogelgarenCorrespondent IJuly 25, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 28:  Matt Holliday #5 of the Oakland Athletics bats against the Colorado Rockies at the Oakland Coliseum on June 28, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Atop the NL Central by a slight margin of a game and a half, the Cardinals felt that making a blockbuster trade was the only effective way to shake up the clubhouse. Or please Albert Pujols. 

On Friday, July 25, the Oakland Athletics traded left fielder Matt Holliday to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for third baseman Brett Wallace, first baseman/outfielder Shane Peterson and pitcher Clayton Mortensen.

Wallace is the only big blow to the Cardinals. With Joe Thurston struggling as the Cards current third baseman (he's currently hitting .231 with one home run and 24 RBI's through 88 games), Wallace would have been an excellent guy to come in and step up next year.

With Wallace now in Oakland, the Cardinals will have to look elsewhere for a third baseman.

But in reality, that is the only bad aspect of the trade.

Though Peterson is playing well in the minors, he's not a can't miss prospect, and with the acquisition of Holliday, Peterson would have probably been held in the minor leagues with the Cards due to a lack of playing time.

Mortensen, this season in Triple-A with the Memphis Redbirds, is 7-6 with a 4.37 ERA over 17 starts.

What this breaks down to is with the exception of Wallace, the Cardinals didn't give up too much. Even including Wallace, it wasn't an unreasonable trade for the Cards. This is all assuming that Holliday re-signs with the Cardinals.

If he doesn't re-sign, and the Cards don't win it all this year, the trade looks completely different. But the Cards made this trade thinking long term, so they will do whatever is necessary to get him back with the team.  

Holliday, besides providing an incredible offensive and defensive performance, is a great asset in the clubhouse. 

On the field, he will not only continue to evolve into one of today's premier hitters, but he will also form a three-four punch with Albert Pujols, one, that if done right, can be as good or better than the David Ortiz-Manny Ramirez situation. 

Holliday has proved that he can lead a team not only into the playoffs, but through the playoffs. During the improbable 2007 Rockies run to the World Series, Holliday was key in making sure the Rockies would go further.

Over the course of the last 13 games of the season, in which the Rockies went 12-1, Holliday was unstoppable, hitting .442, with 5 home runs and 17 RBI. 

Holliday also proved key in the playoffs, as he hit .289, with 5 home runs and 10 RBI, including a .294 batting average and a home run in the world series. 

While leading the league in RBI's is something both Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols can put on their resume, beating the Boston Red Sox in the world series is something they can't. Both lost in a four game sweep by the Sox.

Though Pujols has effectively avenged the loss by a 2006 Cardinals world series championship, Holliday never got a chance to redeem himself. The Cardinals are hoping that the redemption starts now, and in St. Louis.