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Tuesday, December 15, 2009
At what cost, Holliday?

It's not often that I'm nonplussed by the things that baseball teams do, or are said to be thinking about doing. I've seen a lot of strange things in my time. Still, Joe Strauss' story about the Cardinals' efforts to sign Matt Holliday does give me pause.

Hmmm, let's see here ... eight years, roughly $130 million (so far), an opt-out clause and "full no-trade protection" ... Gee, there's no way this won't work out beautifully for the club, huh?

Seriously, this is why baseball men shouldn't be allowed to watch baseball games. Because sometimes they actually believe what they're seeing. Holliday is an excellent baseball player. He is not the player everyone saw playing for the Cardinals last August and September. He is not the player whose batting line in those months was exactly as good as Albert Pujols'.

In fairness, I do believe the Cardinals know that Holliday isn't as good as Pujols. But if these figures being bandied about are correct, it seems they think Holliday is nearly as good as Pujols.

He's not. There's a top tier of superstars, a tier that includes Pujols and Joe Mauer and Chase Utley and Hanley Ramirez.

There's a second tier that includes Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman and Chone Figgins.

And then comes Holliday and Kevin Youkilis and Carl Crawford.

It's not that Holliday's not worth $16 million. He is. Quite a bit more, in fact. It's that Holliday's not worth $130 million. It's just too much risk for too many years, with too few escape hatches, for a team that doesn't play in the Bronx.

I understand why the Cardinals believe they have to keep Pujols, no matter the cost. But do they really have to take the same approach with a third-tier superstar like Holliday? I mean, no matter the cost?