The Oakland A’s have traded Matt Holliday to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for a trio of minor leagues in 3B Brett Wallace, OF Shane Peterson, and P Clayton Mortensen, according to espn.com (click here for the article).
To me, this appears like a coup for the A’s, who for a long while appeared likely to get little in return for Holliday. Considering the way he had been playing, I don’t think it was a guarantee the team would even offer him arbitration in fear of being saddled with a huge commitment to him in 2010. Instead, they get a player who was seen as the future 3B for the Cardinals as well as another one of their Top 10 prospects prior to the season.
Wallace, the team’s first round pick in the 2008 draft, split time between Double and Triple-A this season, hitting .289 with 11 HR, 35 RBI, and 44 R. At 22 years old (he’ll turn 23 in late August), he easily could immediately join the A’s and certainly will see time at the hot corner this season.
Currently, the team’s depth chart has Adam Kennedy, Bobby Crosby, and Nomar Garciaparra listed at the hot corner. Wallace clearly has more upside then any of those, and by dealing Holliday the team is waving a white flag of sorts. He is one of the top prospects in the game and certainly is worth owning in all keeper leagues immediately.
Mortensen was ranked as the number six prospect for the Cardinals prior to the season. He made one appearance for the Cards this season, allowing 2 earned runs over 3 innings. At Triple-A (in the Pacific Coast League), he was 7-6 with a 4.37 ERA. That comes after going 8-10 with a 4.96 ERA between Double & Triple-A last season.
His problems were described by Baseball America prior to the season by saying, “Propelled to Triple-A in June, Mortensen was too fine around the strike zone and pitched himself into mechanical issues. Control and command troubles cost him late in his college career, and they returned at Memphis, where he gave up 42 walks and 12 homers in 80 innings. He needs to improve his changeup to handle lefties, who hit .354 against him last year.”
He’s worth monitoring, but he’s not a fantasy impact player this season.
The third player, Shane Peterson, has split time between Single and Double-A this season, hitting .295 with 7 HR, 46 RBI, and 12 SB. He was not ranked among the team’s Top 10 prospects prior to the season and is not going to have any fantasy impact in 2009.
As for Holliday, he leaves Oakland as a player who was starting to heat up, but for the most part fulfilled the concerns that people had of his departure from Coors Field. He hit .286 with 11 HR, 54 RBI, 52 R, and 12 SB. Those are still extremely usable numbers, putting him right on pace for a 20/20 season. Are they the numbers of a top outfielder, like he had once been? Of course not, but useful just the same.
I would expect his value to potentially increase slightly with his move back to the NL. He’ll be joining Albert Pujols in the Cardinals line-up. I don’t know that his presence is going to force teams to pitch to Pujols more, but it definitely will allow him to get more opportunity to drive in runs as opposed to his time spent in Oakland. I would not be surprised to see him finish with over 100 RBI at this point, possibly as high as 110. His other numbers should remain status quo.
This also may spell the end of Rick Ankiel’s days as an every day OF, at least for this season. Ryan Ludwick is heating up and should be in there everyday, and Colby Rasmus has simply outperformed Ankiel. He’ll get some AB, but I wouldn’t be using him at this point.
As for who won the deal, I think the A’s did much better then anyone could have reasonably expected. The Cardinals, however, are a better team today then they were yesterday. There’s no question about that, and considering that they are in first place in the NL Central, 1.5 games up on the Cubs and Astros, that’s what they care about most.
What does everyone else think? Who won this trade? How will Holliday perform in St. Louis?
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