Why Holliday could end up a rental

Updated: September 11, 2009, 12:22 PM ET
By Buster Olney
As the summer's trade season played out, rival executives came away from conversations with the Cardinals believing St. Louis wasn't in position to take on much salary. The Cardinals opened the year with a payroll of about $89 million. But as St. Louis played well early, hanging at or near the top of the division, its attendance climbed and turned out to be better than expected. Rather than the 2.8 million that was predicted for the Cardinals, they drew crowds that could, in the end, take them up to 3.4 million in attendance.

The St. Louis ownership seemed to respond, trading for Mark DeRosa and Matt Holliday and expanding the payroll by about $6 million -- St. Louis got payroll relief of about $1.7 million from Oakland in the Holliday trade -- and helping to turn the Cardinals from contenders to what appears, right now, to be the best team in the National League.

The Cardinals' midsummer spending spree doesn't mean, however, that the team's ownership is ready to paint outside the usual financial lines. Even if St. Louis wins the World Series, the Cardinals are not apt to pop up with a $120 million payroll next year; it's just not in the club's financial DNA.

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