|Cardinals going for it all|
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on July 24, 2009
With Matt Holliday and Julio Lugo in hand, that shows the Cardinals are going for it all. They are on the hook for $4.5 of the remaining $6 million on Holliday's contract, while Lugo isn't a cheap expenditure by himself. After these moves, a few questions come to mind.
Did Albert Pujols have any effect on the Cardinals' moves?
The early guess here is that he did. Pujols' agent, Dan Lozano, said that Pujols doesn't care about money but rather getting a few more World Series rings in a story for the Indianapolis Star. In the same story, Pujols would like to remain in St. Louis for the duration of his career but that doesn't mean he wouldn't leave.
So the Cardinals went out and acquired two players who could shore up their offense. After the Cardinals gave up on the Khalil Greene trade, they acquired Lugo, who was designated for assignment from the Red Sox. He is a solid glove who has gotten on base a little bit.
Lugo may not be an impressive bat, but he's certainly an upgrade over Greene.
The Cardinals also brought in Holliday, who provides a power bat in left field. He may be a bit of a Coors Field creation, but there should be a slight uptick in Holliday's statistics over the remainder of the season. He's moving from one of the worst hitter's parks in the Major Leagues and returning to facing pitchers with whom he's more familiar.
Combine that with a recent hot streak and it looks like Holliday may help the Cardinals offense get going deep into the playoffs. Should Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright stay healthy, that could be a dangerous rotation with which to contend come October.
But back to Pujols. It seems the Cardinals made these moves to appease their star and maybe persuade him that ownership is trying to contend. Pujols has an option for 2011 that will almost certainly be exercised, which means he has only two more seasons before he can test the free agent market. It's likely these series of trades were some sort of goodwill message to Pujols.
Now Pujols has a strong presence in the lineup to protect him, something that should make him difficult to handle down the stretch.
Does this impact the Halladay-to-the-Cardinals rumors?
Absolutely. It was unlikely Halladay was even going to get traded to any team but now it's even less likely he'll get shipped to St. Louis. The Cardinals aren't an organization plush with money - - I don't know where the money for these moves are coming from - - so it makes little sense to trade for another huge contract at this point, even though a postseason rotation of Halladay-Carpenter-Wainwright would look downright imposing come October.
The Cardinals also moved their biggest prospect, third baseman Brett Wallace. Some scouts didn't think he'd last at third base because of his body, but he should be able to play passable defense there for the time being. Does the Cardinals farm system have enough to A) Compete with the Phillies and the other clubs out there and B) Have enough to still survive future seasons after a potential Halladay deal? Doubtful.
What impact does this have on Troy Glaus?
The Cardinals were trying Glaus out in left field as he worked his way back from shoulder surgery. But with Holliday there, you'd have to think the Cardinals are going to end this experiment.
The fact that they moved him shows they're more willing to go with Mark DeRosa there. This might mean Glaus, a free agent at season's end, will be relegated to the bench if he makes it back to the Major Leagues this season.
How does the outfield situation play out?
It only seems logical that Holliday start everyday in left field because the Cardinals spent so much to acquire him. After that, Colby Rasmus has come on strong in center field, while Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel will split time in right field, unless one of them is traded.
Ankiel is a free agent at season's end, so the Cardinals could deal him for help elsewhere, but that's pure speculation on my behalf.
What is Holliday's situation beyond this season?
If Holliday is spurred to a good season after this deal, that may help him sign a huge extension with another team. After all, this is the guy who turned down four years and $84 million from the Rockies.
However, the Cardinals may have the money to keep Holliday if he performs well. Glaus, Greene and Ankiel are all coming off the books, which leaves the Cardinals a few million to play with. It doesn't seem like the Cardinals are going to use that money on him, however.
Going for broke is a dangerous game, but it's a wise move in a winnable division with two aces -- Carpenter and Wainwright -- to front a postseason rotation.