Report: Cardinals close to getting Holliday from A's

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Rumors about the A’s and Cardinals working on a trade for Matt Holliday
have been swirling for the past couple days, and according to Tim
Kurkjian of the deal is now on the verge of becoming official:

The Athletics and Cardinals are close to completing a trade that
would send outfielder Matt Holliday to St. Louis in exchange for third
baseman Brett Wallace, outfielder Shane Peterson and right-handed
pitcher Clayton Mortensen.

Last night our own Matthew Pouliot analyzed the potential St. Louis-Oakland deal
and concluded that Brett Wallace was a reasonable haul for Holliday, so
under that assumption the A’s would be doing very well by also picking
up 2008 second-round pick Shane Peterson and 2007 first-round pick
Clayton Mortensen (although neither has been all that impressive since
being drafted).

In fact, a Wallace-Peterson-Mortensen return would be fairly similar
in terms of overall value to the three-player package of Carlos
Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith that the A’s sent to the
Rockies for Holliday in November. Of course, simply treading water in
the value department while paying Holliday a whole bunch of money isn’t
what the A’s had in mind at the time of the original deal.

On the other hand, merely recouping that value is pretty good with
Holliday hitting .286/.378/.454 after batting .319/.386/.552 in
Colorado. For the Cardinals, giving up last year’s first- and
second-round picks along with a potentially useful 24-year-old pitcher
would be a very steep price for two months of Holliday, but the ability
to either re-sign him at a discount or take draft picks when he walks
as a free agent balances the scales.

All in all, Kurkjian’s reported 3-for-1 deal strikes me as a
reasonable move for both sides and perhaps a slight “win” for the A’s.
Many people believe that Wallace will become a star and at the very
least he looks likely to develop into an impact hitter, but I’m
somewhat skeptical about his true ceiling and if he can’t stick at
third base defensively the Cardinals don’t really have a spot for him
as long as that El Hombre guy is around.

Holliday represents a significant upgrade for the Cardinals, who’ve
been searching for a big bat to hit behind Albert Pujols and rank 14th
in the league with a measly .635 OPS from their left fielders. Two
strong months from Holliday and a pair of draft picks if he leaves as a
free agent could get them into the playoffs and then give them a shot
to select the next Wallace and Peterson come June.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.