Let’s get straight to the point today:
Holliday’s deal is a fair one for both the Cardinals and for Holliday, and I think it was a win-win for both sides. Holliday got a large multi-year deal, but not the Mark Texiera money he was after, and the Cardinals can pencil in one of, if not the best left fielders in the game in their lineup behind Pujols. Some are complaining about the amount of years the Cardinals gave Holliday, and it is concerning, but in reality we have no idea if there weren’t any other teams bidding like so many are saying. When a team decides to sign a high caliber free agent, they typically don’t come for three or four year deals. Honestly I would rather have Matt Holliday for 7/120 than Jason Bay for 5/80. Holliday is the far superior player with a better track record of durability (for my take on Bay/Holliday click here). There is also the “Pujols Factor” when analyzing Holliday’s deal. Albert has stated that he will wait and see what improvements the team makes before deciding to sign an extension or not, and signing Holliday ensures that Albert won’t have to carry the offense on his back the way he has in years past. However, this isn’t a post about the contract signed about Matt Holliday, there have been countless other posts on this subject on the internet, and there’s no need to re-hash what everyone else is talking about. Now that Matt Holliday is signed, sealed, and delivered, the elephant in the room is the upcoming extension that the Cardinals would like to give to Albert Pujols. The popular statement among analysts and fans today has been the concern that the Cardinals can’t give 40% of their payroll to two players and still be competitive in the division. It is a concern, but I would like to point out that although that is a lot of money to pay two players, the players that the Cardinals would be paying are obviously tremendous. In the past, there has been a lot of money “wasted” on players and the Cardinals were still able to be competitive. Consider the percentage of payroll given to these players last year:
2009-The Cardinals were able to win 91 games while committing $30.5 million dollars to Scott Spiezio, Adam Kennedy, Rick Ankiel, Chris Duncan, Khalil Greene,Todd Wellemeyer, and Troy Glaus. Collectively, these players combined to produce -1.7 Wins Above Replacement for the Cardinals. To call the group “dead payroll” is being generous, as producing 0 WAR would have been a large improvement.
So if the Cardinals can give over 30 million dollars to a group of players who provided negative value to the team and win over 90 games, I firmly believe the Cardinals can win while committing around 40% of the payroll to two outstanding players. If Jeff Luhnow and the rest of the player development department can supplement the roster with cheap 0-3 service time guys, the Cardinals can win. The Cardinals won’t need a Colby Rasmus or a player of that caliber to come up every year, as the core of the team is already in place. What the Redbirds will need is a steady stream of talent to help supplement the marquee players. Also, with the Cardinals ability to bargain shop on the waiver wire like they did in 2009 with the Julio Lugo and John Smoltz acquisitions, I believe the team is in good shape going forward. In short, be happy Cardinal fans, this team is in good shape, and also did the first step to ensure that #5 will stay in town for a long time.
*I wanted to have this post up Wednesday, but the site was down. Continue to expect the Wednesday/Saturday post format from now on.