By leaving the Phillies for a $1.6 million, five-year contract with the Expos, Dave Cash became the only important free agent in the National League East. He is a superb second baseman whose .988 fielding percentage was the best at that position in the majors in '76. And he is a deft leadoff hitter who batted .296 and averaged 203 hits and 97 runs a season during his three years in Philadelphia. Cash is almost impossible to strike out—his 13 whiffs were easily the fewest among big-league regulars last year—and is just as tough to get out of the lineup. He missed only two games while playing for Philly. Beyond that, he is an aggressive performer who has been given a lot of credit for the Phils' switch from chronic losers to confident winners. In short, Cash is the classic second baseman, a player who is invaluable as a field leader and an offensive catalyst when he is performing for a good team. His departure has left a gaping hole in the Phils' infield, batting order and psyche. But how important will Cash be to the hapless Expos? His are mostly "team talents" (scratching his way on base, making the double-play pivot, etc.). and Montreal cannot surround him with players who can consistently make those abilities pay off. For this season, at least, the Expos are unlikely to cash in on their investment.