Cheap Seats

The deal the Cardinals had to make

Congratulations to the Cardinals front office for getting the Matt Holliday deal done. 

This is by far the most aggressive free agent signing the team has ever made and, in addition to making the Redbirds a better team on the field, the signing will give the home town nine tremendous credibility with the fans concerned that the team had become overly conservative with its payroll. That will surely result in a surge in ticket sales to help pay the freight of the most expensive contract in team history -- so far.

Already some naysayers have begun to claim that the deal is going to handicap the Cardinals financially for eight years, which is only so much bull.

This isn't new money the team is spending. It's not like they are drunken sailors on leave who went bonkers. It's just a reallocation of resources that were wasted last year on Troy Glaus, Khalil Greene and Adam Kennedy. Before that, the money was allocated to Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen. Nothing has changed financially, other than the fact that the Birds stand to get a lot more bang for their buck than they have for the last three or four years.

The Holliday signing does NOT lessen the chances of signing Albert Pujols. It's more truthful to say that it gives the Cardinals the best chance they have ever had to sign Pujols because the Cardinals superstar said he wants to play for a team that is committed to winning. If this isn't a sign of commitment, I don't know what would qualify.

The Cardinals are not a one-dimensional team because of the Holliday deal. Their rotation boasts two of the top three finishers in the Cy Young derby, a capable innings eater in Kyle Lohse and the luxury of Brad Penny -- a two-time 16-game winner with ace potential -- nestled way down in the fourth spot in the rotation. The bullpen is deep with closer Ryan Franklin, lefties Trever Miller and Dennys Reyes under contract and a wealth of young exciting arms in Jason Motte, Kyle Mc Clellan, Blake Hawksworth and Jaimie Garcia in the fold.

There are lots of creative ways to pay Pujols as one of the elite players in the game while not blowing up the budget. He already makes $16 million a year. So it's not that much of a leap to $20-$22 million a season. The team could give Pujols a $20 million a year deal for 10 years that would cover the rest of his playing career and then the deal could pay him $5 million a year in the form of a personal services contract for another 10 years to make the total payout $250 million, making him the second-highest paid player ever. All without breaking the bank.

And let's not forget, while others will get raises between now and then, Chris Carpenter's substantial contract will expire about the same time Pujols' new deal would kick in...

A little amateur accounting pegs the St. Louis payroll at $92-$93 million including projected raises for arbitration eligible players. That leaves seven or eight million to bring in Felipe Lopez to provide versatility and some insurance at third base plus a little rotation depth (John Smoltz) to round out the roster and I think the Cardinals are the team to beat in the National League.