>Cardinal Nation is buzzing this afternoon with the news that the Cards acquired OF Matt Holliday from the Oakland A’s for top prospect Brett Wallace, and minor leaguers Clayton Mortensen and Shane Petersen. This has been a move that has been met with mixed reactions on some of the Cardinal blogs that I have been reading lately.

Wallace is, by all accounts, a great hitter, but a liability on defense. He does play 3B, which is a position the Cards have struggled with all season; however, he has yet to play at the major league level. Many people don’t like the move because they think that Wallace is the next great slugging 3rd baseman in baseball. At first, I wasn’t too crazy about it, but the more I think about it, the more excited I get. Let’s face it, Wallace is an unproven player on the major league level. Holliday is a very good player on the major league level, and it’s possible that he could love playing in St. Louis and want to stay there. Only time will tell.
Compare these line-ups:
2b – Schumaker
cf – Rasmus
1b – Pujols
rf – Ludwick
lf – Ankiel/Duncan
c – Molina
3b – Thurston
Pitcher’s slot
ss – Ryan
This has been a fairly typical lineup for the Cards this season. After a couple of moves, the lineup will probably look more like this:
2b – Schumaker
cf – Rasmus
1b – Pujols
lf – Holliday
rf – Ludwick
3b – DeRosa
c – Molina
ss – Ryan/Lugo
Pitcher’s slot
Notice: most of the season, LaRussa has batted the pitcher eighth; however, he doesn’t like to have the pitcher hitting right after Molina, and given that Molina’s offensive production will most likely decline (because of the wear-and-tear of being a catcher), in conjunction with DeRosa on the field, I’m guessing that we’re going to see him lower in the order than 6th on a consistent basis. Then again, I’m not LaRussa, and we could very well see Molina, DeRosa, Pitcher’s slot and Ryan at the bottom of the order; that’s for Tony to decide, not me.
Anyhoo, which of those lineups look scarier to other teams in the NL Central right now? Yeah, I’m saying the second one. Not to mention this puts Thurston and Ankiel on the bench, alongside Ryan/Lugo (whoever’s not playing that night), Stavinoha/Barden (whoever doesn’t get sent back down, I’m guessing Barden goes back to Memphis) and LaRue.
The more I think about it, the more I like this lineup:
  1. Schumaker is coming around as the everyday 2b (he’s only committed 6 errors in 606 innings so far, not to mention he’s hitting .307 as of right now)
  2. Rasmus is looking like the Rookie of the Year for the NL
  3. Pujols is having a well above average season (which considering his previous average seasons have placed him in the top 10 of all time, that’s saying a lot), and looks well on his way to becoming a 3-time MVP. Oh, and also 2nd in batting (.020 behind Hanley Ramirez), 1st in HR (9 ahead of Adrian Gonzalez), and 1st in RBI (4 ahead of Prince Fielder and 20 ahead of 3rd place) – Triple Crown talk is still going on.
  4. Holliday has had a down year so far, but is heating up. And when you consider that .286 and 54 RBI’s is a “down season” so far for Holliday, that’s a good sign. (He’s just a week removed from a 4-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI game; and in his last 10 games has put up a .390/3HR/11RBI line to go along with 12 runs and 3 strikeouts.)
  5. Ludwick has also been heating up after having some problems following an early DL stint. Even with those struggles, he’s hitting .273 with 16 HR and 61 RBI’s.
  6. DeRosa is adjusting back to the NL – 5 hits and 3 HR in his last 6 games since coming off the DL (another .270 hitter)
  7. Molina is having an All Star season with a .288 average and ridiculous defense behind the plate.
  8. Brendan Ryan has played very good defense at SS to go along with a respectable .275 average.
  9. Ankiel is not having a good season, but is still a significant power threat lurking on the bench.
  10. Thurston can’t hit a lick, but has seen significant playing time this season, so that’s another good one to have on the bench.
  11. Lugo can hit lefties, which is something this team has struggled with so far.
Now, if Wellemeyer can either remember how to pitch, or if they can get an effective 5th starter, the rotation has few, if any weak links. On just about any other team, we’re looking at Carpenter and Wainwright as #1 starters, Lohse as a #2 and the way Pineiro has been going, he could be a legitimate #2 as well (3.09 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 3 HR allowed and 12 BB in 122 innings this season).
The bullpen has been much better than last season and should be fairly well rested for the last 60+ games. Franklin (Wednesday’s game notwithstanding) has been lights out – 5 earned runs allowed all season, and only two blown saves in his All Star season.
Overall, I feel good about this team. I’m still a little leary with Wellemeyer on the mound, but four nights out of five, I feel like they have a legitimate chance to win. And even with Wellemeyer on the mound, they now seem to have the offensive parts to overcome even his inefficiencies.
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