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Will Holliday return?

The number one question I am asked these days is if I believe that Matt Holliday is going to re-sign with the Cardinals.

And I have to admit, I just don't know.

When they traded for him, I was pretty sure Matt Holliday was going to be the second coming of Scott Rolen: A misunderstood superstar with midwestern roots who just didn't fit in under the microscope in a big market. A guy who would take a little bit less to play somewhere he could be happy AND have a chance to win.

But, unlike Rolen, the Cardinals were unable to sign Holliday to a free agent contract before the end of the season. And it looks just as unlikely that they will be able to ink him before he hits the unrestricted open market in a couple of weeks. Once the bidding starts, the odds Holliday comes back here begin to dwindle quickly.

If the Yankees and Red Sox start throwing around $100 million numbers, it's all over for the Redbirds, who I figure would max out at about $90 million for five years. To put it into perspective, that's $18 million a year, or about $2 million a year more than Albert Pujols' current contract pays...

I expect the Red Sox to make a strong push for Holliday because it seems they have had a falling out with their left fielder, Jason Bay, who also will be a free agent following the World Series. They have deep pockets and Holliday is simply a better player than their current high dollar left fielder. He also meets their front office's desire for a high on base percentage type player more than Bay.

The Yankees have a need for an outfielder who can hit in the middle of the order and they have the cash. Will they be scared off by Holliday's post season meltdown? It's possible but unlikely. The Cardinals have to hope that the Yankees play hard to get and tell Scott Boras that they won't overpay and bid against themselves. If all things were equal, I think there is a possibility that the guy from Oklahoma who likes country music and cowboy boots would lean toward playing in St. Louis over New York City...

I believe, as has been speculated, that the Cardinals have already made a contract offer to Holliday and that he rejected it to test the free agent market, which is a bad sign.

Holliday is a quiet guy who is sometimes hard to read, so it's hard to tell what he was thinking when he turned down a substantial offer to remain with his original team, the Rockies. And it is equally hard to tell what is his priority when it comes to chosing where he will play for the next five years or more.

So, what do I think the odds that the Cardinals will re-sign Holliday are? Two weeks after he arrived I would have said 80 percent. A month ago I would have said 65 or 70 percent. Two weeks ago I was to 50-50. And now, following the barrage of criticism after he dropped the ball to lose game 2 of the NLDS and his comments since then, I'm guessing it's about a 25 percent chance he comes back.

And the odds aren't getting any better.