Friday, July 24, 2009

Athletics Trade Holliday to St. Louis

Twenty-four hours ago I pondered if the Oakland Athletics would trade outfielder Matt Holliday to the San Francisco Giants.

Well, instead of sending Holliday across the Bay, the Athletics have sent him to the Gateway to the West. Holliday is now a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. In exchange for Holliday, the Cardinals gave up three minor leaguers including Brett Wallace, who was the Athletics top draft pick in 2008. Wallace could be Oakland's everyday third baseman as early as next season.

Holliday will provide protection for reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols. The Cardinals now have a power trio Pujols, Holliday and Ryan Ludwick. Holliday will supplant Rick Ankiel in left field who has struggled at the plate and hasn't been the same player since colliding head first into the outfield wall during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies in May.

The one disdvantage is that all three of these players bat right-handed. I'm surprised the Cardinals wouldn't have sought a left-handed power hitter instead. But perhaps there wasn't one readily available or who have fit into the Cardinals lineup. Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres comes to mind but he's a first baseman like Pujols and this isn't the AL so no DH (except for interleague play in AL ballparks but interleague is done for 2009.) Nonetheless, Holliday should be a good fit in the Cardinals lineup. It will be interesting to see if Holliday stays in St. Louis beyond 2009 as he is a free agent after this season.

The Cardinals currently lead the NL Central Division by not a large margin. The Chicago Cubs and the surging Houston Astros are only 1½ games back while the Milwaukee Brewers are 2½ games back. The Cardinals have the unenviable task of visiting the defending World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies this weekend. The Phillies have been playing their best baseball of the 2009 season having won 11 of their last 12 games.

Whatever impact Holliday has in St. Louis, I think the San Francisco Giants missed out on an opportunity to add a right-handed power hitter. Then again sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make.

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