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It's crunch time for the St. Louis Cardinals to get Adam Wainwright's deal done

It looks like the next four days are going to decide if Adam Wainwright will be a career Cardinal -- or if he'll hit the open market and likely get a larger bid elsewhere.

While the two sides have done a pretty good job keeping the lid on the details, the talk is that things are going well. St. Louis GM John Mozeliak has been whistling an optimistic tune while Adam Wainwright has seemed loose in morning workouts.

Watching Wainwright lead pitchers in pre-game workouts underlines the fact that he is the obvious and effective leader of the Cardinals pitching staff. While a lot of folks like to analyze this statistic or that when it comes to trying to put a value on Wainwright, his leadership abilities double his value in my book.

Obviously, you have to be able to walk the walk to be able to get people to listen when you talk the talk. But Wainwright showed last season that he's coming back strong from elbow ligament replacement surgery. And his spring performance, 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA, 18 strikeouts and six walks, seems to indicate that the 31-year-old hurler still has plenty left in the tank.

This isn't the Albert Pujols deal. The Cardinals aren't going to give Wainwright a 10-year deal that will extend well past his prime. While it's still going to be a substantial investment, the team can -- and should -- come up with the cash to keep Wainwright in the fold for at least the next four or five years.

We heard earlier this week that Manager Mike Matheny has been preaching to players that it's not enough just to aspire to make the playoffs or win the World Series. He said that they should shoot to etch their name on the legacy of the St. Louis Cardinals. If that's what the team expects from players, then it needs to do its part and, when a guy like Adam Wainwright wants to be a great Cardinal, they should do all they can to make it happen.

You can't claim that organizational pride and loyalty is more important than statistics and then take a Moneyball attitude and let a player of Wainwright's caliber walk away over mathematical projections.