At first glance the Matt Holliday deal might seem like a coup for the Oakland Athletics. They receive a talented hitting prospect in Brett Wallace, and Clay Mortensen and Shane Petersen are promising prospects as well.
But fear not Redbird fans, it is not a foregone conclusion that Matt Holliday will leave St. Louis for greener (as in dollars) pastures this off season. In fact, if general manager John Mozeliak plays his cards (no pun intended) correctly, Holliday should remain a Cardinal.
Off the books after this season are the hefty salaries of Troy Glaus and Khalil Greene, who have contributed exactly five home runs and 19 RBIs combined in 2009, all from Greene. Their combined salaries of $18 million are more than enough to sign Holliday for next season, and long term as well.
Holliday represents something that Pujols has not had in years: a real sidekick. Ryan Ludwick over-achieved big time last year, but Holliday has proved to be a consistent performer, especially aided by bringing back his signature leg kick.
With El Hombre due to be a free agent after 2010, Mozaliak and the Birds could make a statement toward signing him and ensuring that he'll have support for years to come.
Beyond that, Holliday could be a lynch pin in the Cardinals outfield for the post-Tony La Russa years, when the Cards will actually start using a semi-normal lineup.
Add in Colby Rasmus and possibly young athletic outfielder Daryl Jones (currently in Double-A), and the Redbirds could have an outfield to worry about for opposing teams.
After receiving a standing ovation in his opening at-bat as a Cardinal, one has to wonder how long it will take for Holliday to get used to the packed stadiums, constant affectionm and glut of fastballs and RBI he'll get access to by hitting beyond Pujols.
St. Louis fans have wooed the likes of Mark McGwire and Larry Walker into staying in the Gateway City. All Mozeliak has to do is pony up some intelligently invested money, these two parties might enjoy a match made in heaven.