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Christmas Holliday

Peter Gammons reports that Matt Holliday may regret turning down the $82.5-million contract he was offered by the Red Sox because it might have been the best offer he will get.

I wish the Cardinals would sweeten their $80-million, five-year offer just a bit to make it the obvious choice while giving Holliday and especially agent Scott Boras a chance to save face.

Boras made a mistake demanding a contract similar to Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira's $180-million deal and seemingly scared off potential suitor. The Birds played things relatively well by not getting caught up in the feeding frenzy while remaining in play. But they need to at least match the $82.5 million Boston offer to give the Holliday camp the chance to say  "This is the place I wanted to be all along."

Even better, make it a six-year, $95-million deal and blow the others out of the water while keeping the average value of the contract reasonable.

I have heard some talk lately about the unwillingness to give Holliday a long-term deal not because of fincial considerations but because of fears about his health. I don't get it, because if you're going to give anyone that sort of deal, why wouldn't it be Holliday? He's going to be 30 next year, which means a six-year deal only keeps him on the payroll until he's 36. He's in excellent physical shape and keeps himself in the best playing condition.

One example people give of players who have made an untimely exit from the game because of eroding skills is Chick Hafey, a St. Louis player in the 1920s and early 1930s. It seems like something of a reach to have to go back that far to find a player who hit for a high average and with power like Holliday who dropped off rapidly. But it's a bad comparison anyway. Hafey was notorious for NOT taking care of himself and getting in trouble with management for coming to spring training late and out of shape.

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Chick Hafey played for the Cardinals from 1924-31, winning the NL batting crown in 1931. He was traded to the Reds following that season because of a contract dispute.

And if that isn't enough, the truth of Hafey's ultimate baseball demise was severe injury. He was beaned in the face which did damage to his sinuses and made hit difficult to see. Most mega contracts major leaguers sign these days are covered by insurance that would pay off if the player is incapacitated.

The biggest thing Hafey and Holliday have in common is the fact that they both made outrageous contract demands. Hafey was traded from the newly crowned 1931 World Series champion Cardinals to the last place Reds because he held out for more money one too many times.