La Russa: Holliday not just an NL player

December, 8, 2009

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, in his half-hour session with the media, said he "refused to believe" that the Cardinals do not remain a viable option for free-agent outfielder Matt Holliday. Here is a partial transcript of his comments. Thanks to ASAPSports for the transcription.

Q. How far do you think you are from -- not just financially but time wise before having to go to, quote, Plan B? (Plan A being Holliday)

La Russa: "That's an interesting question. I guarantee you we've thought about a lot. I know we have a good feel for what we represent, what we need. I think that not only did the trade help us get into October, but I think it helps us in our chance to have him be a part of our club, because he experienced his teammates -- Cardinal fan support, stuff like that ... We rarely get mentioned as one of the teams with a chance to sign him. But we refuse to believe that. I think we've got a legitimate shot. And I just think that there are some alternatives, and if Matt decides someplace else, we've got a way to make our club a contending club.

Q. Have you talked to Matt recently?

La Russa: "Recently, no. We exchanged texts a couple times after his baby, after their baby."

Q. Were you in the room (with agent Scott Boras) two nights ago?

La Russa: "Uh-uh. My point is we've been through this -- everybody has been through this. ... The timing is a critical part, the player, the agent, their timing, does it jive with the club's timing. Sometimes clubs are more patient than others, and I don't know how patient we can be."

Q. Is it accurate to say that timing could be as big an obstacle here as big as terms?

La Russa: "I don't know, that would be a good question for [GM John Mozeliak]. I just know there's a timing thing because we're more proactive than to sit around and wait. But I think the other side is that we refuse to believe that we're not a real attractive ballclub for Matt."

Q. Do you get involved at all in lobbying a player like that, making the case for him? The reason I ask, Terry Francona was saying in Jason Bay's case, for example, that he's taken the approach to back off because he feels players have the right to explore the market.

La Russa: "Well, I agree a player has a right to explore the market. I think it's just a common sense thing. Sometimes you get in a situation like this, and the player will be looking for some input. I think the point I just mentioned, when Matt spends a couple months with us, we end up qualifying for October baseball, you know, he has a real good feel. I mean, I've talked to him. We talked at the end of the season, towards the end. He's teamed to his teammates since then.

"But I think it's less necessary when you've been a teammate.

"If a guy has never been on your club and they're interested in talking to you, I don't know if you lobby but you try to present your best side and be honest with it."

Q. There has been some suggestion that Matt might be a National League player, someone who's better suited for that league than for the American League. Do you have any idea what that means and what you think of that idea?

La Russa: "Well, I wish I could get away with being dishonest and say that's true so we can cut the American Leaguers out of this. But there are no restrictions to his game. I would not agree with that. Based on their All-Star and World Series success, there's probably a little arrogance right now on the American League side, which means we need to win some games."

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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