The Cardinals thought their offense was set when they acquired Mark DeRosa from the Indians, but DeRosa injured his wrist and neither Chris Duncan nor Rick Ankiel proved able to shake lingering injuries that have left them unable to contribute offensively. Now the team has to decide whether it's worth mortgaging even more of the future to bring in Matt Holliday from the Athletics.
The only return that makes sense for the A's is 2008 first-round pick Brett Wallace, a player Oakland passed over with the 12th selection last year. They chose Jemile Weeks, Rickie's younger brother, instead, leaving Wallace for the Cardinals at No. 13.
The Wallace selection for St. Louis seemed awfully similar to Milwaukee's pick of Matt LaPorta the previous season. Even if the player wasn't a great fit for the team, picking the potent college bat provided a great piece of trade bait. LaPorta, of course, was sent to Cleveland for CC Sabathia last year. Now Wallace could go for another superstar in his walk year.
The big factor that all of the teams are weighing these days is draft picks. The Cardinals wouldn't be desperate enough to give up six years of Wallace for 2 1/2 months of Holliday straight up. But Wallace for Holliday and two high draft picks? That's likely worth doing. Similarly, the A's can't settle for a prospect less than Wallace. Even if they won't have anything to play for in August and September, they value the picks greatly.
Wallace is made expendable in St. Louis because of his glove. Most projected him to move off third base in the pros, and while he's still playing the hot corner at the moment, he doesn't have many convinced that he'll last at the position. Fortunately, he should possess the bat to carry first. His .298/.351/.431 line in 61 games since being moved up to Triple-A is hardly awe-inspiring, but it's pretty good for someone in his first pro season. He projects as a legitimate .300 hitter with 20-25 homer ability.
Holliday's addition would give the Cardinals one of the game's best lineups:
2B Skip Schumaker
3B Mark DeRosa
1B Albert Pujols
LF Matt Holliday
RF Ryan Ludwick
C Yadier Molina
CF Colby Rasmus
SS Brendan Ryan
The idea of using Troy Glaus as an outfielder would die, but he probably wasn't going to be an option as a regular anyway. He could be the game's scariest pinch-hitter come playoff time and maybe an occasional option at third. Rick Ankiel, Khalil Greene and Julio Lugo can join him on the game's most expensive bench.
Since the price tag for Holliday doesn't approach what the Jays would want for Roy Halladay, I think he's the right pickup for St. Louis. It'd leave them talent left over to go get a reliever if they desire, and they might even be able to talk Oakland into kicking in some cash.