Matt Holliday Will Determine the National League Champion in 2010

Aaron HooksCorrespondent IDecember 15, 2009

Don’t lie Cardinal fans—you didn’t want Roy Halladay to end up in Philadelphia.

Anywhere but Philadelphia!

But there he goes, taking that golden right arm to the city of brotherly love to defend back to back NL championships with an offense that only got better when they added Placido Polanco.


But wait a second Hookshot—the Phillies play in the NL East. Shouldn’t we be more concerned about winning our division and then let the Mets and Marlins and Braves deal with those guys?

Yes. And no.

Cardinal fans are in a bit of denial about Albert Pujols. The man is about to turn 30 (ahem…) and assuming that that is his real age and assuming that he’s going to sign an extension after 2011 to come back and assuming he can keep up similar production to what he’s had the past nine seasons—Cardinals fans have about a five or six year window to win some championships.

When you have a once in a generation player the caliber of Albert Pujols the goal should be to do every single thing you can to win rings. Every signing, every action, every mundane detail of your very existence should be aimed at making sure your team has a chance to win with Albert Pujols. NL Central titles are a means to an end.

This team simply can’t be satisfied to win a division and hope to streak into another title- they’ve got to be preparing for the Phillies and the Yankees and the Red Sox NOW. Because if you haven’t built a team for the playoffs, then all you’re doing is wasting another year of Albert Pujols.

And quite frankly, we’ve passed the point where that’s acceptable.

Enter Matt Holliday. The latest reports have the Cardinals offering the free agent outfielder an eight-year, 128 million dollar contract. The deal isn’t as important as what it means: sign Matt Holliday and you can compete with the Phillies for the NL crown. Don’t sign Matt Holliday and go with a cheaper replacement and you’re going to have to be extremely lucky to beat the Phillies in the playoffs.

Not a single player other than Holliday can close the talent gap between the two teams. To pretend to think different is nothing more than wishful wishing.

So here’s the bottom line: The Phillies have shoved their chips all in. A few teams, including the Cardinals are waiting to call.

Will they? Can they?

They better.