Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Trading Traded Matt Holliday

I remain embarrassingly behind on…well, everything. Two weekends away from my laptop and the recent discovery of all the things I can no longer accomplish without ten functioning fingers – typing "Aaron", fer'instance – has me wondering if I'll ever catch up.

But, I gotta start somewhere and this post began in Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. I was boarding my connecting flight to Albany when m'man Thai texted me with the news that the Oakland A's had traded OF Matt Holliday to the St. Louis Cardinals.

I'll share my thoughts on the deal in as soon as I get around to writing up the A's July recap. In the meantime, I exchanged emails on the subject with the biggest Cardinals fan I know: Tailgate Crashers'
Eugene Tierney. And, speaking of embarrassed…the first email was from June 9th:

Aaron - I've been kicking around a "trade Matt Holliday" post in my head and I thought I'd pick your brain. ESPN's Buster Olney had a piece recently in which he mentioned the Cardinals as a possible mid-season landing spot for Holliday. Olney threw out the name Brett Wallace as a possible piece of the puzzle going to Oakland.

1.) Before you tell me this'll never happen, what can you tell me about Wallace?

2.) Do you think the Cards would deal him for, potentially, a rental?

Eugene - Wallace is an offensive first third baseman; he's got the body of Jim Thome/Prince Fielder, so people are questioning the position for the long run. Opinions range from average third baseman to "beyond Chipper Jones bad". He's already made the jump to Triple-A, less than a year after being drafted.

The Cards won't trade him for a rental - he's the impact bat they need. He's just not on the both 40-man roster yet, and probably won't be this year.

(Eugene's original email had a couple of additional paragraphs on who the Cards would be more likely to deal than Wallace. Since those names are now moot, I asked for the St. Louis perspective on what changed between June 9 and July 24):

Eugene - This is all my opinion based off various rumors I've heard.

The deal was made to appease Tony LaRussa. LaRussa and [Cards' pitching coach] Dave Duncan were upset when they heard the
Chris Duncan for Julio Lugo deal was made. It's rumored both threatened to quit if the deal went through. I think [Cards' GM John] Mozeliak felt he had to do something to smooth things over with Tony, so that meant getting the guy [Holliday] that Tony has publically mentioned for a few years.

I think the Cardinals would have been better off hanging onto the 3 prospects and using Wallace now at third and moving Mark DeRosa to LF. I think he's league average at third - I saw him make an amazing play to his left during The Futures Game that a lot of players wouldn't have made.

Here are my opinions on the other two prospects the A's received:

Clayton Mortensen has the potential to be a mid-rotation starter. He's probably back end in the long run. I like him better than most of the other pitching prospects in the Cardinals system. The Cardinals didn't give him much of a shot when he was called up earlier in the season. He could be up [in Oakland] by the end of the year.

Shane Peterson is a 4th outfielder at best. Little power, good defense. I don't know if he's that good in center. I saw him play last year and nothing really stood out. He's the typical outfielder in the Cardinals system (Jon Jay, Nick Stavinoha, Shane Robinson, etc).

Again, my sincere thanks to Eugene for the insight. One of these days we need to join forces on a feature or something.


ScottDiddy said...

Probably should be mentioned that Dave Duncan threatening to quit isn't that unrealistic since Chris Duncan is his kid and all. And LaRussa is backing his long-time coach. Can't say I fault those guys for being upset.

Their anger led to a pretty sweet haul for the A's though.

That Bootleg Guy said...

I'm a little less enamored with the whole thing, notwithstanding the fact that it's a small miracle the A's got ANYTHING for Holliday considering how he half-assed it in Oakland.

More to come!

wolverine0712 said...

I was told that their anger stemmed from the fact they weren't consulted on the Lugo deal. The team was out of town and Mozeliak was in St. Louis.

Sure, they had the right to be upset; threatening to quit is a little immature though. Their jobs are to coach the players on the team; Mozeliak is the one that ultimately handles who is on the team.

One of the biggest complaints since 2007 was Chris Duncan being on the MLB Roster. He can't field and had lost his power. Most speculated that he was still with the Birds was his dad.