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Fantasy trade spin: Matt Holliday to the Cardinals

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Matt Holliday(notes) is finally headed to St. Louis. This from the Post-Dispatch:

The Cardinals have completed a trade for Oakland outfielder Matt Holliday, the Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold has confirmed.

"If he gets here, he plays," Tony La Russa told Goold via text message about using Holliday in tonight’s game vs. Philadelphia.

Holliday was told by his agent Scott Boras this morning that a deal was done, and Holliday is telling his former teammates in Colorado that he’s a Cardinal, sources told Goold.

The package of prospects headed to Oakland is top-shelf: third baseman Brett Wallace(notes), outfielder Shane Peterson, pitcher Clayton Mortensen. Wallace is the marquee name there, and he's a huge score for the A's. He ranks 21st on Baseball America's mid-season list of the game's top prospects and he's been holding his own as a 22-year-old at Triple-A Memphis (.293 AVG, 6 HR, 11 2B, 222 AB). Wallace may find himself in Oakland soon, considering where the A's sit in the standings (16 games back) and the current state of the depth chart (Bobby Crosby(notes) at third). In dynasty leagues, Wallace was already owned; in A.L.-only leagues, he's a person of interest. He should have more value to an A.L. franchise, since he's defensively challenged.

Peterson is a classic A's pick-up: excellent strike-zone judgment (.377 minor league OBP), light on power, high-percentage base stealer (12-for-13 this year). He's hitting .284 at Double-A Springfield at the moment. The 24-year-old Mortenson is having a nice if unspectacular season for Memphis (4.37 ERA, 82 Ks, 34 BB, 105 IP). John Sickels describes him as a groundballin' innings-eater; Mortensen has decreased his Triple-A walk-rate substantially (4.73 BB/9 in '08, 2.91 in '09).

Again, this seems like a nice haul for Holliday, a free agent at the end of this season. All three prospects have legit big league potential, and Wallace could be very good, soon. But in fantasy and reality, when you have a chance to win now -- this year -- you go for it. Prospects make the best trade chips and many of them ultimately fail.

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The Cards have clearly picked up an excellent hitter, a guy who can offer as much lineup protection (dubious concept) for Albert Pujols(notes) as anyone on the trade block. Holliday is worth whatever N.L.-only FAAB you've got left, depending a little on your circumstances. (Halladay complicates that decision). He's batting .286/.378/.454 with 11 homers and 12 steals, and he's been an absolute terror since the All-Star break (.387 AVG, 3 HR, 2 SB). Yahoo!'s Tim Brown suggests that Holliday's recent gains are the result of swing tweaking.

Holliday is trading one pitcher-friendly park for another, which isn't the best possible news, but the Cards have been out-scoring the A's this year. Holliday will also presumably bat behind Earth's best hitter, Pujols, a man who simply lives on base (.450 OBP). Rick Ankiel(notes) should lose some value here -- not that he was helping anyone -- and Colby Rasmus(notes) might as well. Ankiel just broke a long HR drought on Thursday; Rasmus is stuck in a 2-for-24 slump.

Congrats on the acquisition Cards fans. You're out on Roy Halladay(notes), but pitching hasn't been the problem (3.75 team ERA). Apparently there's been no talk of an extension for Holliday just yet, so you'll want to impress him with your Best Fans In Baseball™-ness.

Let's hear your thoughts in comments. Did the A's get more in return for Holliday than they gave up in November? Are the Cards now the clear favorite in the N.L.? Doesn't that Cabrera-Holliday hug pictured above seem awkward and insincere? The rehabbing Troy Glaus(notes) should be considered a lost cause, yes?

Update, 4:30 pm EDT: The A's have recalled Eric Patterson to take Holliday's spot on the roster. The 26-year-old was hitting .326/.392/.523 at Triple-A with 34 steals. He's a reasonable deep-league speed add if you need to speculate, though playing time isn't guaranteed in the short-term.

Also, here's Athletics Nation on the Holliday deal: "You have to love this deal if you're an A's fan." And here's Viva El Birdos: "Make no mistake: [the Cards are] better now than they would have been with Wallace on the team this year. But this is two months, and if it isn't two months it's millions and millions of dollars. Get to the playoffs, guys. Please."

And another thing: Refreshed the quote from the Post-Dispatch. TLR is a textin' machine.

Final update, 6:05 pm EDT: Below you'll find the first lineup of the Holliday era...and it's tough. Julio Lugo(notes) leads off, facing a left-handed starter. You'll notice that Ankiel gets the start in center, not Rasmus. Holliday himself is hitting cleanup and Ryan Ludwick(notes) bats fifth. And no, I'm not projecting a massive change in Ludwick's rest-of-season value based on the Holliday trade. Scott Pianowski pegs him at $17. If you'd like to bid $18, state your case. Ludwick has been scorching hot this month, posting a July OPS of 1.130.

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