I’ve begun to wonder what teams are actually interested in the services of Matt Holliday. The reason is that some very important MLB general managers have already said they aren’t interested. Jon Morosi of FOXsports.com wrote yesterday that he believed it will be a three team race between the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The problem? Two of them have already bowed out, too an extent.
Let’s first look at the two teams that have already bowed out, then the other teams that are still in the running.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - GM Tony Reagins told the Los Angeles Times that his team is not focused on Holliday, they’re more interested in resigning their own players, John Lackey and Chone Figgins. He also says they’ve had discussions with Vladimir Guerrero. If he can’t resign those three guys then things could obviously change, but it shows that Holliday is not at the top of their wish list.
I’m actually not surprised. If the Angels were to hit the free agent market their biggest need is a power bat. Outside of Kendry Morales the Angels lacked the type of player who can change a game in one swing of the bat. They’re a team that has to rely on their speed and timely hitting to make things happen, which is something they do quite well. But like they showed in the playoffs, that’s just not enough. You need that one bat who can change a game. Can Holliday be that kind of player?
The jury is still out. While in Colorado he put up the power numbers, but that’s no surprise. Between Oakland and St. Louis this past season he hit only 24 homers. He did hit .313, had a high on base percentage and could steal a few bases but he doesn’t really answer what the Angels need. If in a bind they may reenter the race but in all honesty I think they’ll keep Scott Boras on speed dial just to keep their east coast rivals honest.
New York Yankees – Much like Reagins, Yankees GM Brian Cashman has already said his team is focused on it’s own players. (Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Andy Pettitte). After the huge spending spree last season who can blame them? There are two reasons I don’t think they’ll truly get involved. One they don’t have many holes and two there is a huge free agent class next winter. After winning the championship they can afford to go with what they got for one season. Look for them to stay in the race thou as well, just to keep the Red Sox honest.
I really believe the Holliday Sweepstakes to be a three team race, just a completely different group then Morosi suggested. In my opinion the teams with the best chances at landing him are the New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals and of course the Red Sox.
For the New York Mets, their main need is a power bat in reality they need any warm bodies they can get. For them I believe it will come down to what they favor most, all around production or pure power. If it’s power only then I think he’ll be giving Jason Bay a call, but if it’s all around they’ll be going all-in on Holliday. They’ve always got some money to spend and spending it on Matt could be their best decision since trading for Johan Santana.
Landing Holliday will also give the Mets something they really need, good publicity. A signing like that would allow them to steal the back pages from the World Champs for a couple days.
Boston Red Sox – For the Red Sox, I think it will also come down to who they favor more, Bay or Holliday. Jason was amazing in Boston the last couple years, showing a real feel for hitting in Fenway. His average at home is slightly above his season averages but his power numbers are slightly lower at home then on the road. Regardless, he showed he can perform in Beantown and that the pressure of such a place won’t get to him.
And that is the thing I think really separates him from Holliday. I have no doubts Holliday could perform well iin Fenway, actually at a much higher level then Bay BUT can he handle the pressure? While in Oakland he struggled mightily, part of it could of been learning the pitchers in a new league but there was also pressure on him there to produce. Once he was traded to St. Louis and he could be an accessory to Albert Pujols he took off.
I think Theo Epstein will push really hard for Holliday, while keeping Bay on the backburner if things fall through. Is that the right decision? Not sure, but the Sox really need to make some type of splash this off season and Matt would definitely help them do so.
The St. Louis Cardinals are in a unique position. Holliday loved playing there and performed admirably during his time, but is that enough to overcome the money factor. With Boras as his agent, I’d say probably not BUT it could be enough if top teams in baseball keep bowing out of the race.
The Cardinals have already admitted they won’t cut the biggest check so they’ll need to get creative. To have a real chance at keeping the slugger I think they’ll have to bypass Boras and go straight to the player. They need John Mozeliak, Tony La Russa and probably a few players to keep giving Matt a call and persuade him St. Louis is where he wants to be. Get in his head, get in there enough to where he tells Boras I’ll take slightly less to play with these guys.
Will that happen? Probably not.
So what do I think will happen? I’m not sure at all. The Yankees and Angels say they aren’t interested but you can never count them out. In the end it will come down to money as it always does with star players but I have a feeling Matt will be staying in the National League. He looked more comfortable at the plate, in the field and in the dugout after his short stint in Oakland and the AL.
If there really is that much of a difference between the leagues for him, he’s got to weigh that in to his decision. If not he could be setting himself up for failure by going back to the American League.
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