It would be ridiculous for the St. Louis Cardinals to trade Matt Holldiay for a closer.
It’s an old baseball axiom that general managers never forget. Don’t trade a regular for a pitcher. In the 21st century, a corollary is don’t trade a regular for a pitcher, especially a closer.
At the July 31 trading deadline in 1997, Oakland A’s general manager Sandy Alderson traded Mark McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for pitchers T.J. Matthews, Blake Stein, and Eric Ludwick.
We all know how that worked out for both teams.
Another case of highway robbery that benefited the Cardinals even more than the McGwire deal occurred at the June 15 trading deadline in 1964.
The Cardinals traded starting pitcher Ernie Broglio, relief pitcher Bobby Shantz and outfielder Doug Clemens to their friends in Chicago for outfielder Lou Brock and pitchers Jack Spring and Paul Toth. The trade was really Broglio for Brock.
In 1983, the Cardinals were burned when they sent Keith Hernandez to the New York Mets in exchange for pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Ownby
There are many other examples of teams trading a regular for one or more pitchers.
In 1990, the Boston Red Sox traded young first baseman Jeff Bagwell to the Houston Astros for aging relief pitcher Larry Anderson.
Three years later, the Los Angeles Dodgers sent pitcher Pedro Martinez to the Montreal Expos for second baseman Delino DeShields.
Probably the worst trade of a regular for a pitcher occurred on Dec. 5, 1965 when the Cincinnati Reds sent Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles for starter Milt Pappas.
There have been some trades involving a regular player for pitchers that worked out, such as Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi, Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch and outfielder Steve Finley for first baseman Glenn Davis and Ron Darling and Walt Terrell for an aging Lee Mazzilli.
St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak is too smart to trade Matt Holliday, despite his expensive contract, for any pitcher, much less a closer.
Hollday has averaged 142 games a season, batting .315/.388/.541. He averages about 29 home runs and 110 RBIs a season.
In 2011, the Cardinals had 47 saves, which was good enough for a tie for fifth best in the league.
The Arizona Diamondbacks (58), Atlanta Braves (52), San Francisco Giants (52) and Washington Nationals (49) had more saves. We all know where each of those teams finished.
There is no question that the Cardinals could use a closer. The staff blew 26 of 73 save opportunities during the regular season, but in August and September, the bullpen was vastly improved..
Ryan Franklin, who had four blown saves in five opportunities, was sent away. Jason Motte had a 1.47 ERAS and a Mariano Rivera like 0.698 WHIP. It remains to be seen if he can be an effective closer for an entire season.
Teams undergo transitions during the season.The 2011 Cards are a prime example. They don’t have a proven closer, but trading Matt Holliday for one would be a terrible price to pay.