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What about Beltran?

If the Cardinals lose Matt Holliday to the Mets, could a former Cardinals enemy help fill the void?

Talk out of New York is that the Mets would likely try to deal Carlos Beltran, if they signed Holliday, to offset some salary. I don't know what the Cardinals would have to give up to get the former Astros and Royals flychaser. But he might make a lot of sense in the middle of the order -- and in the St. Louis budget.

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Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran, in the last two seasons of a $119-million contract, has been rumored to be on the trading block.

Beltran has two years left on the contract he signed with the Mets during the 2004-05 off-season at $18.5 million per season, and $5 million of each year's pay is deferred at a low interest rate. While Beltran makes about what Holliday is expected to get on an annual basis, he'll get it for a lot shorter term. And the deferred money would allow the Cardinals some flexibility to fill some other holes.

He has struggled through injuries the last couple of years and never really lived up to his free agent hype. But Beltran offers power, average and speed. He hit 41 homers as recently as 2006, batted .325 in half a season last year and stole 25 bases in 2008.

He has been a player that St. Louis fans have loved to hate over the years -- especially because of his ridiculous 2004 playoffs when he hit .435 with eight homers in 12 games. He hit .417 with four dingers against the Cardinals before the Birds downed the Astros to win the National League pennant.

It would be odd to see Beltran in a St. Louis uniform since most Cardinals fans' picture him in their minds standing like a statue at home plate at Shea Stadium as Adam Wainwright threw a giant hook past him for a series-ending strikeout in game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series.

But Beltran seems like the sort of guy who might enjoy a St. Louis revival. Imagine his raw talent in front of the positive, low pressure crowd at Busch Stadium. Imagine his bat in the more hitter friendly confines of the St. Louis ballpark...

The Mets have denied Beltran is on the block. But wouldn't they have to? You can't risk alienating a player on the chance that you could sign someone to replace him. And who would the Cardinals have to offer for Beltran, who is also being pursued by the Red Sox? There are a lot of ifs in this one. But it is something the Cardinals might want to consider should they be looking for a replacement for Holliday.