Reports on Thursday are that the St. Louis Cardinals have made another move to bolster their roster for a pennant chase.
Earlier this month, the Cardinals traded for former Chicago Cubs infielder and fan favorite Mark DeRosa. Yesterday, they traded pitching coach Dave Duncan's son, Chris, to Boston for infielder Julio Lugo.
Today, they traded one of their top prospects, third baseman Brett Wallace, to the Oakland A's for outfielder Matt Holliday.
Holliday is in the final year of his contract, with a 2009 salary of $13.5 million.
This raises more questions for the Cardinals, because they already had a full outfield. Colby Rasmus has exploded onto the scene this year, while Ryan Ludwick has come back nicely in the last month from an early hamstring injury.
The Cardinals also still have Rick Ankiel and DeRosa as outfield possibilities.
Holliday has become the most recent of a long line of posters to promote the influence of Colorado's Coors Field on a player's production. His power numbers and batting average have dropped since leaving the humidor for the canyon in Oakland.
That doesn't, however, take into account Holliday's recent hot streak. His power appears to have returned after being absent for most of the first eight weeks of the season, and his batting average has been climbing since mid-May and now sits around .290 on the year.
There is no question that the additions of DeRosa and Holliday, both of whom have expiring contracts, indicates the Cardinals are playing for 2009 and want to protect their triple crown candidate, Albert Pujols, as much as possible.
The big question in Chicago on Thursday night (other than "How awesome is Mark Buehrle? and What's wrong with Marian Hossa?) now regards the Cubs response to this trade.
The Cubs' general manager, Jim Hendry, has a history of making big deals at the deadline. He also has a history of answering blockbuster trades within the division by bringing a big player into Chicago quickly after a rival makes their move.
Just last season, within hours of the Milwaukee Brewers trading for CC Sabathia, Hendry pulled the trigger on a deal to move a trio of prospects to Oakland for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin.
Hendry has also brought in key pieces like Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton, and Randall Simon around the deadline (Simon came after the waiver deadline).
There are lots of names being floated around the trade market, but there hasn't been much movement to date. The Boston Red Sox and Cardinals have been the most active franchises thus far this year.
The Cubs have needed a left handed bat for the middle of their lineup for years, and have failed in their two most recent attempts to fill that void: Kosuke Fukudome and Milton Bradley. That might be an avenue to pursue.
They also have some veteran pieces they might look to move. Harden, specifically, has been inconsistent and has an expiring contract.
Additionally, the Cubs have some younger players chasing a position filled by a veteran. Jake Fox has primarily played third base this year in the absence of Ramirez and has hit the ball all over the field, and Micah Hoffpauir is a first baseman backing up Derrek Lee. Both have been forced to help in the outfield this year as well.
How, and from where, Hendry makes a move to improve the team now becomes a point worthy of dialogue as the Cubs look to not only match the Cardinals bold moves, but also to catch their rival in the standings.