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Things to like about the Holliday trade

Reasons to like the Matt Holliday trade:

- The Cardinals desperately needed a cleanup hitter to protect Albert Pujols, and they picked up a .315 career slugger who won a batting title only two years ago to handle the job.

- Brett Wallace was going to be an incomplete player. If the Cardinals were willing to deal him, it's because they knew he wasn't going to be able to cut it defensively anywhere other than third base. Trading him now doesn't mean the team is abandoning plans to build its farms system. It means it shrewdly got maximum value for its 2008 first round draft pick.

- Holliday is only 29 years old. If the Cardinals can sign him, they could add a core player in his prime for several years. And, because of the economy, the Cardinals might have a chance to get Holliday for half of what he might have commanded a year ago. He very well may accept arbitration from the Cardinals and get another year at $14 or $15 million, replacing the zero production the Birds got for the $11.25 million they paid in 2009 for Troy Glaus and $4 million they paid for Adam Kennedy.

- Even if Holliday leaves after the season, the Cardinals will have a chance to get a couple of high draft picks as compensation, protecting the farm system.

- The move is Exhibit A in the Cardinals efforts to convince Albert Pujols that they are committed to winning... And now. Let's sign that contract extension, Albert.

- The improvement to the offense makes the Cardinals the favorites to win the NL Central and make the playoffs. Hanging on to first place even with Glaus out all year, Mark DeRosa suffering an injury right after arriving, Kyle Lohse missing a month and Albert Pujols seeing more balls than the little kid trapped at the bottom of the pit in playland at McDonald's... They now seem poised to get hot and take control of things. A weak lineup all season, the Redbirds have enough depth to bat Mark DeRosa or Colby Rasmus sixth and have Glaus return in a couple of weeks as a pinch hitter.