Matt Holliday is better than what his career road numbers indicate. It is very doubtful, however, that he is as good as his overall numbers indicate.
There are questions within my head that make the A’s acquisition of Matt Holliday slightly odd. We all know that Holliday is a good player, but what do the A’s want with him? Billy Beane would not make this deal unless it was for a reason, and if that reason is having a team that will compete this year, then it makes this look odd as of now. There may be some pending moves, yet to be made. I have heard lingering rumors such as signing Furcal at SS, or some other type of move to improve the club. If something else happens then this will be a little more clear. When Mark Ellis was re-signed, I thought to myself that Beane must be thinking that the prospects that are waiting down below, must be closer and more ready then we are aware of. And obviously, acquiring a player like Holliday makes this team even closer to the reality that they can give the Angels a run.
So if Beane is going to compete, we have established that he is going to need a little more to accomplish that dream. With Holliday, the A’s have two big time bats in the lineup. One that excels in only the categories included in the “three true outcomes.” And one who has been much, much better at home in Colorado his entire life. Both are up for debate as to how good they actually are. We know this about Holliday, or so analysts have pounded it into my head: Much better at home, great? baserunner, “adventurous” fielder, and whatever we think, he is a capable hitter at least, and most likely better than that.
But there is one question left that may solve a few others. Is Beane going to trade Holliday at the deadline as everyone seems to think is the case? I would assume that if the A’s aren’t winning baseball games, that Beane would move him. Because it is apparent that Holliday will not get an extension via the Oakland Athletics. The same Oakland Athletics that simply do not give lucrative, long-term deals to good players, outside of Eric Chavez. But there are a few aspects to why Holliday’s value cannot get any better. Holliday is moving from a good hitters park, not so great as it was, but still good. Holliday is moving to what we all perceive as being the better league. And if Holliday is going to be moved at the deadline, then his short time with Oakland will be filled with a period of “league adjustment.” Holliday will be facing a whole new crop of pitchers, in a whole new environment, in a different city, etc. I will not judge Holliday much on his first year in the AL, but if he struggles some adjusting to the pitching/talent than some GM’s may be hesitant to give up too much for him. And those GM’s that don’t appear to browse the right numbers, are going to see a drop in home runs, batting average, etc, because, well, Oakland is a tougher place to hit. Is that going to matter to some of the GM’s willing to throw half of their farm at Holliday in a deadline deal? It may.
One scout that I rely on says that Holliday will have issues with more difficult fastballs in the AL. This may be true, and I think the talent he will be facing overall in the AL, WILL be more a “task” than he has encountered in the NL. But Holliday has had to face some good pitchers in the NL too, it isn’t as if the league consists of only replacement level players, that seems to be what some of us think sometimes. But if Holliday has to face Lackey-Santana-Escobar (when healthy) in a three-game series, it won’t be easy. But then again, I guess that is the extreme, as he will also face three straight Rangers pitchers, even though eventually that Rangers team will have “prospects” take the place of bad pitchers.
Point is…Matt Holliday will probably struggle some transistioning to the new, more difficult American League. And I wonder if that will hurt Billy Beane’s return at the deadline, if in fact, that is his plan. But short term, the A’s have a better lineup, Holliday himself makes it better. But there needs to be something else if they want to win in 2009. There needs to be a Rafael Furcal, who is 31, and does not seem the right age for Billy Beane to throw the bank at. However, Furcal would definitely be a good acquisition for the next few years if nothing else.
Know this, if Billy Beane made this move, then there is reason to believe that it will work out on the positive side in terms of the health of this organization. And if nothing else, Beane is a getting a player with a lot of passion who should hit the ball some, giving the fans something to cheer for. Beane may not put too much into that passion thing, I don’t know maybe he does. But the passion will be there, as long as Matt Holliday is there.