Sunday Morning Coffee with Ray Mileur

The St. Louis Cardinals took a pass on the Matt Holliday sweepstakes this past week, with the coveted outfielder being traded to the Oakland A's for outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, right-handed reliever Huston Street and left-hander Greg Smith. That deal is done, but could another one between the two clubs be on the table?

The deal with Oakland came after the Rockies had offered Holliday, who is going to be a free agent after next season, a four-year deal worth a reported $72 million earlier in the year, with a player option for a fifth year for $12.5 million.

I never felt St. Louis was in serious contention for Holliday. Leaks to the media from within the St. Louis organization tipped the Cardinals hand, that Silver Slugger award winner outfielder Ryan Ludwick, outfielder Skip Schumaker and right-handed pitcher Mitchell Boggs were being considered as part of a deal that would have started the holiday season for some who didn't oppose the deal, a few weeks early in St. Louis.

As far as I'm concerned, the Cardinals made the right choice in hanging onto Ludwick, Schumaker and Boggs for the time being, considering, with Holliday being represented by the infamous super-agent Scott Boras, the Cardinals would have ended up renting the outfielder for one season with little chance of signing him to a long term deal, that would make sense to the St. Louis organization.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals and Rockies could still pull the trigger on a trade before the winter meetings are over. Colorado is still expected to make changes in center field and at second base, making them potential trading partners with St. Louis.

Cardinals' general manager John Mozeliak has already hinted that the club may be willing to part ways with fan favorite, center fielder Rick Ankiel. Throw in Skip Schumaker, who has already been part of an offer in the Holliday trade talks and second baseman Adam Kennedy who has demanded to be traded before next season, and you have the makings of a potential deal.

Pure speculation on my part, but the Cardinals could ship Kennedy and Schumaker to Colorado, in return for, a potential closer in Huston Street.

The Cardinals are apparently not as sold on Street, as I am. Street, who is coming off of a season with groin and hip injuries, (that sounds all too familiar), posted a record of 7-5 with a 3.73 ERA, saving 18 games in 25 chances last season, before losing his job as Oakland's closer. But my take here is that Huston showed signs of being healthy near the end of the season, going 5-0 with a 1.37 ERA in his final 17 games for the A's.

Street is only 25 years old and even if the Cardinals don't consider him as their closer of the future, I think he is still capable of approaching 35 saves in 2009, giving Jason Motte and Chris Perez, pitchers the Cardinals are hoping can close in the future, a chance to get another year of experience under their belt, before assuming the role as the club's closer.

Brain Scan what's on my mind, if anything?

CLOSER - The Padres and all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman have parted ways and the Cardinals will at least explore the option of signing the legendary closer. They will have to compete with teams like the Angels, Rangers, Indians, Diamondbacks and the Mets for his services, with the Cleveland Indians having the early edge in getting a deal done, based on their efforts to sign him in the past. Don't expect to see Hoffman wearing Birds on the Bats next season, though I'd love to rent him for a year.

SHORTSTOP - Yunel Escobar, there are several teams that are interested in Escobar at short, including the Cardinals. Rumor has it that Escobar could end up in San Diego instead of St. Louis. If that happens, it could open the door for the Cardinals getting a deal done with the Padres for SS Khali Greene. I'd try to get this deal done if the opportunity presents itself to St. Louis.

There were reports earlier this week that a trade was almost made between the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres, which would have made Escobar part of a package, that would have sent RHP Jake Peavy to Atlanta.

The 26-year-old Escobar was beat up at the end of the year, suffering from a left elbow injury, a shoulder injury that hampered him the entire season and a hamstring problem that limited his playing time during the final couple weeks of the season. If healthy, Escobar brings a very good glove and an upgrade at short offensively for the Cardinals, over Cesar Izturis.

Oakland's shortstop Bobby Crosby will be a free agent after next season which means it wouldn't come as a big surprise to see Oakland's GM Billy Beane move him at the winter meetings. Crosby, who will be 29 at the beginning of next season, didn't hit last season, but did manage to stay healthy the entire season, playing in 145 games, the first time he had played in over 100 games since 2004. Crosby's best season came in 2004, when he played in 151 games, hitting .236, but with 22 home runs and 64 RBIs. He's hit only 34 more home runs in the major leagues since the 04 campaign. When I hear Crosby's name, I can't help but remember his 04 season, and wonder could he put together another season offensively like that one?

ATLANTA BRAVES – the Braves are looking for starting pitching. Of course, who isn't? The Cardinals are looking for a deal that would have the Braves sending shortstop Yunel Escobar and second baseman Kelly Johnson (who is eligible for arbitration), to St. Louis. My take here is, this may be where you first hear Todd Wellemeyer's name surface as part of a trade package.

KENNEDY - The Florida Marlins acquired second baseman Emilo Bonifacio in a five-player trade with the Nationals. This could open the door for the Cardinals to pursue Florida's second baseman Dan Uggla, who could command $5 million in arbitration. The Cardinals historically aren't going to pay in the $5 million range for a second baseman, but for 32 home runs, like Uggla hit in 08, the Cardinals may up their traditional ante for someone to cover second.

There aren't a lot of potential trade partners for Kennedy. The Arizona Diamondbacks have been reported as being interested and I expected a potential fit with the Florida Marlins as well, if they moved Uggla or still even yet, if Bonifacio doesn't make the major league club in 09. If the Braves trade second baseman Kelly Johnson to St. Louis or someplace else, the Cardinals may be able to dump Kennedy in Atlanta.

BULLPEN – Cardinals GM John Mozeliak is looking to add a couple of lefties to the bullpen, via free agency. At the top of their wish list; Florida's Arthur Rhodes, Atlanta's Will Ohman and Colorado's Brian Fuentes.

The market for the 32-year-old Fuentes has already been established at three years at $36 million-$39 million, which will likely cause the Cardinals to take a pass on him and try to sign one of two middle relievers; 38-year-old Arthur Rhodes, who will try to pitch at least one more season, or the 30-year-old Will Ohman, who seems to be the most likely choice for St. Louis.

FREE AGENT – I'm surprised we haven't heard the name Orlando Hudson tossed around more. Hudson, a free-agent from the Arizona Diamondbacks, is still one of the best defenders at his position; the three-time Gold Glover hit .305 in 2008 and is a .282 career hitter. He will be a solid acquisition for any team.

BAILOUT – Add the New York Yankees to the list of potential suitors for a bailout from the dysfunction United States government. With the Yankees building a new stadium and plotting a quick-strike offer to free agent C.C. Sabathia that would meet or exceed the $137.5 million for six years that Johan Santana received from the Mets last winter, it's only a matter of time, with this kind of spending, before the Yankees will be in front of Congress seeking a handout from Uncle Sam to save the Bronx Bombers.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but sending in the US Government to bailout the bankrupted Wall Street and banking industry, is to me, like sending in a pyromaniac to put out a fire?

In closing, it's about time to get ready for church, let me add, sign Miles Aaron Miles, can I get an AMEN?

Let's meet here next week.



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