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Pre-emptive (or preventative) strike on Holliday

For a while, it looked like the only way Matt Holliday was going to end up back with the Cardinals is if no one else wanted to pay him.

I guess the fact that it seems like no one else wants to pay him is the reason St. Louis team president Bill DeWitt III decided to make his white flag speech last week.

The Mets were the original favorites. But in the last couple of weeks their financial position became suspect. This weekend it was reported by the New York Media that the Mets are trying to work a deal with the Nationals. They'd like to pry away Josh Willingham, a player the Cardinals have been linked to in the past, to fill their left field hole.

The Yankees have maintained that they weren't interested in Holliday for some time. They'd rather keep Johnny Damon in left at a cheaper price in both annual salary and number of years. Meanwhile, the Yanks announced last week that they want to trim their payroll to about $185 million in 2010, down from $209 million the year before. That would almost certainly take them out of the Holliday derby.

The Angels were another early favorite to chase Holliday. But their owner, Arte Moreno, said in no uncertain terms that he isn't interested in the Cardinals free agent. I'd tend to believe him with the way he publicly dismissed Holliday.

The Red Sox are probably the strongest suitor for Holliday in terms of financial ability to sign him and need. But Boston could pay its own free agent left fielder, Jason Bay, less per season and maybe for half the length in years that it would take them to sign Holliday. If Boston signs Bay, the market for Holliday is basically gone and his potential payday of $180 million suggested by his agent is probably going to be halved.

It will be interesting if Holliday comes calling at the $96 million price point the Cardinals are said to have originally proposed what the team would do. But, I suppose, the Redbirds may be sensing the same thing, and that's why DeWitt decided to burn that bridge before he got to it.