[Holliday ready to bolt Cardinals?  This Cub fan can only hope.]

The Cubs countered the Cardinals’ aggressive off-season bid for OF Matt Holliday today by announcing their boldest move of the off-season, signing WGN radio Cubs color commentary man Ron Santo for a reported 3-year extension.  Given what the Cards have done this winter and what the Cubs have not, we can look forward to lots more of Santo’s patented “Ah, jeezs” and “Oh maaaanns” during Cubcasts.  Like Harry Caray before him, Santo specializes in giving the fan’s point of view at Wrigley.  Odd, since Santo actually played the game.

As to the Holliday deal, the Cardinals are still in heated talks with Holliday and his agent, Scott Boras.  The package St. Louis Today’s Joe Strauss describes is $15-16 mi over 8 years. Boras points out that Holliday is worth more, because Mark Teixeira got $180 mil package last year, and Teixeira isn’t anywhere near as good as Holliday.  Boras should know, he reps Teixeria, too.  Stay classy, Scott.  Worse news for the Cubs is that with Jason Bay apparently looking to leave Boston for NYC, the Red Sox are chasing OF Mike Cameron, who the Cubs had eyed. For a player as blunt about fan racism as Cameron, I’m sure he’ll be relieved to play at Fenway instead of Wrigley.

So, while Jim Hendry chases his Holy Grail deal of dumping Milton Bradley “ and only then will he think about improving the 2010 Cubs “ Joe Strauss reports the following on the hoped for collapse of the Holliday deal (by me anyway):

Increasingly impatient to reach a resolution, sources familiar with talks believe it possible Holliday could reach a verdict before Christmas.

The proposal exceeds the average value of the seven-year, $100 million extension the Cardinals and first baseman Albert Pujols negotiated in February 2003. However, the Cardinals™ bid does not meet the average annual of a deal that the Colorado Rockies offered “ and Holliday rejected “ in 2008. Aside from the 6½ years that have passed since Pujols™ signing, Holliday is available as a free agent. Pujols™ signed his deal after his third major-league season, allowing the club to avoid three years of arbitration while guaranteeing Pujols four additional seasons and including a club option for 2011.

Boras has attached Holliday™s market value to first baseman Mark Teixeira, who signed an eight-year, $180 million deal as a free agent last winter. Teixeira also is a Boras client.

The Cardinals steadfastly refuse to enter that neighborhood; hence, a seeming impasse. Though classifying a continuation of talks as encouraging, a source familiar with the process denied significant movement in the past several days.

The agent makes the case that Holliday has been a more productive player than Teixeira in the last three years. Holliday has compiled scored 36 more runs and also run up higher on-base and slugging percentages in the span. Teixeira has narrowly outpaced Holliday in RBI (336-334) in that time.

Indeed, Holliday and Pujols are the only players to amass a .300 batting average with a .500 slugging percentage in each of the past four seasons. Holliday, Pujols and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez are the only players to achieve a .900 on-base-plus-slugging percentage each of the last four seasons.