Blog Entry

Cardinals: Full speed ahead with Holliday

Posted on: January 5, 2010 11:15 pm
 

Did St. Louis vastly overpay slugger Matt Holliday in his spiffy new seven-year, $120 million deal?

Are the Cardinals headed for serious turbulence given their colossal Holliday commitment when The Franchise, Albert Pujols, is hurtling toward free agency himself (his contract is up after 2010, the Cards hold a 2011 option on him)?

Is there impending doom just around the corner?

Legitimate questions, all.

But, man, are the 2010 Cardinals going to have some fun.

With a middle-of-the-order containing Holliday and Pujols, Lethal Weapons I and II, and with a top-of-the-rotation featuring Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, Tony La Russa again will be managing a Disneyland of a club.

The Cardinals just became heavy NL Central favorites. Yeah, yeah, the Cubs will be leaner and meaner having purged themselves of Mr. Oversized Baggage, Milton Bradley. Milwaukee still can score. Cincinnati? Pittsburgh? Houston? Please.

La Russa and general manager John Mozeliak are playing for keeps, and though this isn't a perfect team -- the Cards remain light at shortstop (Brendan Ryan) and rookie David Freese currently is the Lone Ranger on the depth chart at third base -- there is too much else to like. Besides, even with Mark De Rosa off the board (signed with San Francisco), the Cards will scoop up someone. Otherwise ... Ryan Ludwick, Colby Rasmus (who now comes with a year of seasoning), Yadier Molina and Skip Schumaker ... and did I mention the Holliday-Pujols tandem?

Yes, the richest contract awarded this winter seems somewhat excessive, given the fact that the Cardinals' chief competition in negotiations for Holliday at this point seemed to be the Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars. Once the Mets signed Jason Bay, there essentially was just one chair left for Holliday, and it was in Pujols' clubhouse.

That said, for Holliday to earn an average annual value of $17 million, exceeding Bay's $16 million a year, is just one more feather in the already overstuffed and plumed cap of superagent Scott Boras. How does he keep doing this?

Mozeliak fretted some at the GM meetings in Chicago two months ago at the prospect of attempting to squeeze both Holliday and Pujols into one payroll. In the end, clearly, he decided the alternative -- losing Holliday -- was worse.

There will be lots of tightrope walking ahead, especially when negotiations open for an extension for Pujols. But you know what? That's another problem for another day, and there is every chance that Mozeliak and Co. will work around that and figure it out.

To all those who already are worrying that the Cardinals won't be able to afford Pujols down the line, I ask you this:

If the Cardinals don't make moves like they did Tuesday to retain Holliday and the team gets worse, do you think Pujols will want to stay in St. Louis then?

Play it too conservatively, don't field a World Series contender, and there's no guarantee Pujols stays.

Play it too aggressively, commit a ton of dough to Holliday ... and there's no guarantee Pujols stays.

Which way would you rather go?

The answer is obvious: Try to win while you figure out a way to keep Pujols.

Sure, eventually, the Cardinals may live to regret it. They now become one of only three big league clubs to employ at least two players making $100 million each -- the others, of course, are the Yankees (CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter) and the Mets (Johan Santana and Carlos Beltran). Sometime in the future, maybe they may find themselves looking to trade Holliday in order to keep Pujols. Maybe in the interim, they win a World Series, too.

At the risk of sounding overly naïve, the future will take care of itself ... and if need be, Mozeliak will massage and adapt and figure it out.

As for the present, the Cardinals made the right move.

Comments

Since: Oct 31, 2009
Posted on: January 7, 2010 4:42 pm
 

Cardinals: Full speed ahead with Holliday

It happens every Spring. That sounds like a good title for a movie. What? There already is one? When was it made and what was it about? Great flick! Haven't seen it in years, but fun for an avid fan.

Oh, and how true the title be. Maybe it would be more accurate if "Spring" was replaced with "winter" or even "fall," but you get the gist. Every year about min-June I find myself wishing I had collected every preseason article authored by quacks who predicts show but one thing which is they aren't qualified to give opinions about all but maybe 2 or 3 teams.

Being a lifelong Cardinal fan, in conjunction with the track record of these writers: well, let's just say I'm a tad bit concerned with the confidence expressed by Miller's words "the Cardinals just became heavy NL Central favorites," and "La Russa and... Mozeliak are playing for keeps..."

Miller, you may counter with a guess that I have no clue what you "said" last year, and your guess would be correct. So I challenge you now to post your most accurate preseason article from last year. My guess is that you would be too embarrassed, and concerned that your lack of credibility would be disclosed.

In one regard I am no different than you: I have no clue what you wrote a year ago, but am confident little of it could be added to a resume titled "Expert Baseball Analyst".

So it is left to those who know to straighten out those who don't:
  1. First, I will say that part of the reason it is so hard to predict a team's chances for success is due to the length and grind of the season. Seven months - 162 games - that's a grind, and injuries can turn a team's hopes upside-down in a hurry. Last year almost every writer had the Cubs in the World Series, but their best man, Ramirez, went down early and with that went their hopes. It looked like more of the same with the Card's: Carpenter left April 15 and Ludwick went down a month later. I am sure most are thinking "Ludwick, big deal," as almost every writer I read had him picked as "player least likely to repeat." The facts are that there was no better 3-4 tandem in all of baseball in 2008, and that didn't change until Ludwick fell to injury May 13th, 2009. I will take it a step further, and tell you that We wouldn't even have Holliday had Ludwick not been injured. The fact is the guy can flat-out hit, and he's no slouch in the field either.
  2. Second, and this shouldn't be needed, but obviously it is: Everyone talks about the Holliday signing as if it will cause problems with Pujols later. Stop for a second to think how things happen in your world. Now apply that to Albert and the Cardinals. He is not just the face of the Redbirds, he's the face of baseball. You write as if you believe Pujols and management are enemies. You write as if you think management is stupid. I will grant you that they botched the trade of Duncan; not that he shouldn't have been dealt, but that his father who happens to be the best pitching coach in baseball, and is joined at the hip with Tony, seemed surprised by it. It was a breech of trust that surprised every avid Card's fan. I guarantee you that the face of baseball was consulted and kept abreast of every move the club was making. Management won't lose this guy. They will do everything within reason to keep him content, and Albert isn't one to desire anything more. This will never degenerate into some sloppy remake of "The War of the Roses." Neither will they cut off their nose to spite their face.
  3. This one really tells me you didn't watch much of the Birds last year. Write this one down because in five years when all will know I want to be able to tell you you heard it first from me: Brendan Ryan is the most entertaining defensive player in baseball. And he won't hurt you with his bat or wheels. If there is a knock on Ryan, and quite frankly I don't think it is a knock at all, he may be overly aggressive at times. He certainly is cock-sure of himself which you gotta love in a ballplayer, especially with regards to their defense. I hope I have you curious enough that you will make it a point to see what I see. It won't take long because he seems to be doing super-human feats every game.
  4. Besides potential injuries what are the Cardinal's weak spots? They have but two: let's say three, giving a half to Freese at third and the other half to Rasmus. Freese is suppose to be a lock, but I've heard some things that concern me. Rasmus has everything it takes, but could use some of Ryan's cockiness. It just doesn't seem like he knows how good he is. More play should alleviate that concern. So the two weaknesses are?? One, they need a closer. They have the coach and manager that can carry them through the season, but not in a due or die series as was made painfully obvious in that second playoff game last year. The guy made the All-star team, had 40 saves, but true Card fans knew deep down he was problematic. And the big enigma, one you wouldn't think would be a concern but has been even back in the Edmunds/Rolen days: the Birds struggle against left-handers. With Pujols, Ludwick, Holliday, and Molina you wouldn't think this would be the case, but it is. I don't think Tony gets it; I certainly don't. Hopefully, with the departure of Duncan and Ankiel (good story but just couldn't figure it out) things will get better. The good thing is that unlike the closer problem, the lefty thing we can live with, and maybe BIG MAC will have a tip or two.
There you have it Miller. Feel free to use it. Oh, and by the way is it true that neither Cardinal won the Cy Young? Travesty.



Since: Dec 6, 2009
Posted on: January 7, 2010 11:36 am
 

Cardinals: Full speed ahead with Holliday

i'm happy stl got the man they needed,espicially he could have been hung out to dry after his playoff game 2 miscue??i'm just wondering  what matt holiday would have recieved if the redbirds would have waited a little longer and maybe the bidding would have dropped to 10-13 million a year.still a hefty paycheck!!



Since: Apr 27, 2009
Posted on: January 6, 2010 1:32 pm
 

st louis?

really?  have you ever been to a game in st louis?  they pack the stadium in the middle of may against the pirates.  the  city loves baseball.  every game has a shot at selling out.  you sell those tickets for two years leading up to the pujols signing and there will be no question if he's worth what ever rediculous contract he's gonna get.  on top of that, holliday has a lot to proove to the fans early off this year after that dropped ball in the playoffs.  he could get off to a really hot start (he did the opposite last year) which means pujols will have a legitimate bat in the lineup to protect him, or to knock in.  these 2 can go down as one of the best 1-2 punches baseball has ever seen, even if its only for the next two years.



Since: Apr 15, 2009
Posted on: January 6, 2010 12:39 pm
 

Cardinals: Full speed ahead with Holliday

I am all for this deal. now we can focus on Albert. Plus after hearing him talk on 101 espn radio a couple weeks back. he said that regardless of matt holliday he wanted to be a cardinal for the rest of his career. he has said this time and again. i believe that if the organization didn't believe that they could get enough money to retain Albert this deal doesn't happen. if they didn't have enough, i think you would have seen a two year Tejada deal, with a one year smoltz deal, add Nady in left field and call it a day. i truly believe we keep Albert and the Cards have a monster 3-4 for the better part of the decade.



Since: Apr 15, 2009
Posted on: January 6, 2010 12:33 pm
 

Cardinals: Full speed ahead with Holliday

Agreed!



Since: Apr 29, 2007
Posted on: January 6, 2010 11:44 am
 

Cardinals: Full speed ahead with Holliday

I totally agree with you about Brendan Ryan.  He is one of the best kept secrets in MLB.  Hopefully it's still that way when contract time comes up, but I doubt it.  He hit right at .300 for the year and was argueably the best defensive SS in the game last year.  That is exactly the kind of guy the Cards like with pitchers pitching to contact. 

Now, if only he would stop licking his shirt.

Go Cards!!!



Since: Nov 30, 2008
Posted on: January 6, 2010 10:23 am
 

Cardinals: Full speed ahead with Holliday

for sure. the only people (writers) who talk crap about Brendan Ryan are those who haven't really paid attention to what he can do. I honestly believe he's a top 10 ML shortstop, right now.



Since: Nov 20, 2006
Posted on: January 6, 2010 10:19 am
 

Cardinals: Full speed ahead with Holliday

The Cardinals aren't "buying the pennant".  Despite the signing of Holliday, they're still below the $100 million mark, and they're still only second in their division in payroll (if they're not second, then they're just barely ahead of the Cubs).  You have to look at the big picture: they have three guys making 14-17 million (a repeat MVP, a former batting champion, and runner up to last years Cy Young... aka, money well spent), then they don't have anyone else making 10 million.  The next highest paid player is Lugo... who Boston is paying every penny for.  Then Lohse at 9 million as well and Penny's making 7.  Ludwick will probably come in around the 6.5-7.5 range once arbitration is all said and done.  Then you have another Cy Young runner up making under 5 million for the year (again, money well spent).  Arguably the best all-around catcher in the NL who's making under 5 million this year, then we have 3 relievers making 2-3 million a piece and the rest of the team is under .5 million/season other than LaRue who's still making less than a million.

Without the raise to Ludwick, the team is at 81,287,500.  That's less than half of the Yankees payroll.  The Angels are a shade above.  The Cubs around 125 million, the Mets are around 107 million, Phillies around 120 million, Red Sox at 140+ million, and the White Sox are just a couple million ahead of the Cardinals.  Literally, if you take away the 17 million owed to Holliday, the Cardinals would have an almost identical payroll to the Reds, Brewers, Astros, Dodgers, and Giants.  The biggest thing is that the Cardinals roster is pretty much set (not saying it couldn't improve, they just won't have it in their budget).  They're a lucky team b/c they do have a little more money to spend then other teams, but they also had the MVP and the 2nd and 3rd place pitchers for the Cy Young along with at least the best defensive catcher for a combined total of roughly 40 million.  How does that measure up to the team you say they're imitating?  Well... A-Rod is making 33 million JUST THIS YEAR, and Sabathia is making 24 million.  So the Yankees have 57 million rapped up in a runner up to the MVP (not actually the MVP) and a runner up to the Cy Young (not actually the Cy Young winner) for 17 million more then two runner ups to the Cy Young (#2 and #3 vote getters) and the ACTUAL MVP (the BEST hitter in baseball).  It's not buying pennants, it's spending the money you have wisely. 

I don't like what the Yankees do, and think some of their contracts are awful, but when you have the luxury of an almost bottomless budget, you can pay more for guys you think will help.



Since: Oct 27, 2008
Posted on: January 6, 2010 8:53 am
 

Cardinals: Full speed ahead with Holliday

I'm wondering how long it will take before the Cards are accused of trying to "buy the pennant"......or is that kind of talk only reserved for the Yankees.......

Don't get me wrong.....I have no problem with what the Cards did...they ared working within the framework of the rules......I'm just expecting whining from other teams that can't afford to do it......

It seems that many of the fans want MLB to be the NFL......with parity and such.....its not going to happen......

My point is that the Yanks have historically done it better and when others try to do it in a similar fashion, I expect the same treatment for them.......

So....good for the Cardinals......I look forward to meeting you in the Series against the Yanks in 2010!




Since: Sep 16, 2006
Posted on: January 6, 2010 6:21 am
 

derrrr

light at shortstop??? ryan will consistently hit 285-305 and WILL end up with gold gloves before his time is through.  considering the cards philosophy is pitching to contact, ryan is more important to this team than most



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com