The Cardinals brass think this is the year. No waiting for top prospects to develop. No scraping unwanted players off the trash heap (actually, they still do this). This year, they went all in and got the elusive bat to protect Lord Pujols.
According to the ESPN, Matt Holliday, longtime Rockie, short-time token Billy Beane trade chip, and some cash was traded to the Cardinals for top prospect Brett Wallace, high pitching prospect Clayton Mortensen, and promising outfielder Shane Peterson.
Holliday has a OPS of .831 this year and much of that production has occurred over the last month. While Oakland Coliseum is a pitcher's park, observers feel Holliday has lost much of his power that came with Coors Field. Even if he is a bit down, inserting Holliday in the lineup is baseball porn. Rasmus, Pujols, Holliday, Ludwick. Not a bad four-hitter.
The Cards lose cost controlled players with big futures. Wallace is has a .796 OPS in AA and AAA this year. He currently plays third base, but his body type is squat and many think he is more suited for a first base/designated hitter role. Mortensen made his big league debut this year. He started a game but sports a 6.00 ERA in those few innings. In 2007, he had a great year, but since then his ERA has hovered around 4.30. Peterson is in AA and currently sports a .784 OPS. Overall, these prospects are some of the best in a farm system that is thin to begin with.
That said, because the NL Central is so weak, the Cards now have a legitimate chance to run away with the division with a strong line-up and playoff rotation. Hopefully this gamble pays off, because without these prospects, it may take a while before the minors can be cultivated.