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Not the one everyone was waiting for, but a big trade nonetheless

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - One of my favorite scenes from the great show "Seinfeld" is when Jerry and George wonder how someone could order seltzer in a Mexican restaurant without the waiter bringing them salsa.

"I wanted seltzer, not salsa."

Well, that is kind of the way I felt Friday morning when I found out that the St. Louis Cardinals were on the verge of acquiring Matt Holliday from the Oakland Athletics for a trio of prospects.

I've been waiting for a deal for Halladay, not Holliday.

Regardless, the Cardinals got their man but had to give up a small fortune, including their top prospect in third baseman Brett Wallace, in return for a player who is represented by Scott Boras and could ultimately bolt as a free agent at the end of the season.

The Cardinals, though, are in a dogfight atop the NL Central with just about everyone in the division. Chances are the Chicago Cubs are going to be better in the second half, Milwaukee is in talks to bring in a big pitcher and the Houston Astros just swept St. Louis to dwindle the Cards' lead to just 1 1/2 games.

So St. Louis had to do something to keep up. Outside of Victor Martinez, who I am still not sure is available, Holliday was the best bat on the market and even though he is having a down season, he is the perfect guy to offer some protection to the best player on the planet in Albert Pujols.

Think about this. Pujols has done his damage this season with the likes of Rick Ankiel, Ryan Ludwick and rookie Colby Rasmus around him. Imagine what he is going to do with Holliday in that lineup.

But forget Holliday's impact on Pujols for a second. I mean, how much better is El Hombre actually going to get? How about the impact the two-time NL MVP is going to have on Holliday, who has vastly underachieved in his first season away from Coors Field?

Holliday, of course, was brought in by the A's to anchor their offense, but got off to a sluggish start and has just recently started to get it going at the plate.

Still, his average is down nearly 40 points from last year and almost 60 from his near MVP season of 2007, when he belted a career best 36 homers with 137 RBI. Heading into action this weekend, Holliday has hit just 11 home runs with 54 RBI in 93 games.

It is also remarkable timing, as the new-look Cardinals can send a message this weekend with their newest acquisition against the defending world champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Even with Holliday and the recent pickup of Mark DeRosa, I still don't think the Cards' lineup is as good as Philadelphia's, but I love the depth of their rotation. And right now I would rather take my chances with the Cards' pen than the Phils'.

Am I going to install St. Louis as my favorites to come out of the NL now with this deal? No, probably not, but this definitely makes things more interesting.

At least, let's hope for St. Louis' sake this deal works out a little better for them than the last blockbuster it completed with Oakland.

It was back in 2005 when the Cards plucked lefty Mark Mulder from the A's for a handful of prospects, one of which was Dan Haren. Of course, Haren has blossomed into one of the best pitchers in the game, while Mulder appeared in just six games for the Cards over the last two seasons and is still looking for work following shoulder surgery.

Bottom line, it is a bold move. Brett Wallace is about as blue chip a prospect as you can get. He is going to be a star in the AL and will probably jump right into the mix with the A's.

But Holliday gives the Cards the chance to win now. They wanted a big bat and they got the best one available. It is hard to argue with that. People in St. Louis should be ecstatic today.

Although, given what happened with Haren, I'd like to gauge that reaction a few months from now should Holliday not be able to snap out of his funk and the Cards not only miss the playoffs, but he leaves as a free agent in the offseason.

SPEAKING OF THE OTHER HALLADAY...

Nothing new to report in any Roy Halladay discussions. I don't buy Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi's self-imposed deadline of July 28, nor do I buy the report that the Phillies won't include prospect Kyle Drabek in any deal.

Philadelphia is still the favorites to land him and I think when push comes to shove they will, especially now with Holliday heading to St. Louis. Halladay is just too perfect a fit for Philadelphia for this not to happen.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are also in the mix and Ned Colletti feels he can get a deal done. The only debate there is if the Dodgers want to include Clayton Kershaw in a deal. The organization seems to be split on that one.

Don't count the Brewers out here, either. They have the chips to make a deal and are reportedly kicking the tires. If they don't get Halladay, don't be shocked if Cliff Lee is wearing a Milwaukee uniform next week.

I said it a few weeks ago, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. should be fired if Halladay is dealt to any contender in the NL that is not the Phillies.

With Halladay, extension or not, the Phils have a legitimate shot at winning three straight World Series titles. That should be the only thing that matters. Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez can all become free agents after 2011. The time to win is now.

It is nice to keep your prospects and build, but do you think the Atlanta Braves of the 90's would rather have had more than one championship or their 14 straight playoff appearances?

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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