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TGIF: Matt Holliday to Oakland

It was reported several days ago that the Oakland A’s acquired LF Matt Holliday from the Colorado Rockies. In order to land one of the best hitters in all of baseball, the A’s had to give up SP Greg Smith, OF Carlos Gonzalez, and CL Huston Street. Holliday has been one of the biggest offensive threats in the game for the past several seasons that was highlighted by his 2007 season where he was robbed of the NL MVP award.

In 2007, Holliday hit .340, 36 HR, and 137 RBI with 120 R scored. His September was beyond superb with a .367 avg, 12 HR, and 30 RBI. Not to mention he drove in the tying run and scored the winning run in the one-game playoff for the NL Wild Card against the San Diego Padres. But, a debate over the rightful winner of the 2007 NL MVP can be held at another time.

Holliday’s 2008 was marred by back pains and hamstring injuries that sent him to the DL. Even with those bumps in the road, Holliday still put together a damn good year by hitting .321 with 25 HR, and 88 RBI in just 139 games. He also stole a career high 28 bases. I was so high on Holliday that I slated him to go in the first round of next season’s fantasy draft. With his move to Oakland, I am afraid Holliday’s value will take an unfortunate hit.

No More Coors Field

While it is no secret that Matt Holliday is a top 10 OF, it is also no secret that he prefers the friendly surroundings of Coors Field. His batting average at home is significantly better than on the road:

2006: Home-.373, Away-.280
2007: Home-.376, Away-.301
2008: Home-.332, Away-.308

In his career he is hitting .357 at home and .280 on the road. It may be extreme to make this comparison but, he kind of reminds you of Vinny Castilla. Obviously Holliday is the better overall player but, just the fact that Castilla put up astronomical numbers playing for the Rockies and never repeated them elsewhere is the point I am trying to make.

Holliday’s new home of McAffee Stadium is notorious for being a pitcher-friendly ballpark and is the complete opposite of baseball’s home run factory known as Coors Field. I mean lets be honest, the fact that Holliday played half of his games in Colorado was a major driving force in his fantasy value.

No More Supporting Cast

Holliday’s tenure in Colorado has included playing on teams where he has had great protection in the lineup. He was hitting behind and in front of the likes of Todd Helton, Garrett Atkins, and Brad Hawpe. These batters were capable of hitting close to 30 HR, driving in 100 RBI, and hitting .300. That sort of firepower around you makes you a better player by ensuring that you will see better pitches and have the chance to drive in plenty of runs.

Welcome to Oakland Mr. Holliday! 2008 was a dismal year for the Oakland offense. The A’s finished dead last in the AL in runs scored (646), hits (1,318), and batting average (.242). The leading power source was Jack Cust who hit had 33 HR and 77 RBI (also an impressive 111 walks). The best batting average on the team from a player who played in at least 120 games was Catcher Kurt Suzuki (.279). Holliday has not proven that he can carry all the offense on his own and now he may have to do it in a territory completely new to him: The American League.

Is There Any Hope?

Well, in my opinion, the one saving grace that Holliday has is the fact that he is in a contract year. He isn’t the best contract year player in the 2009 season but, he can be a good gamble on draft day. Yeah I know, due to the trade, we now have to call drafting Matt Holliday a gamble.

Plus, if the A’s aren’t winning by the trade deadline, then Billy Beane will probably try and unload Holliday for a nice bundle of young players and draft picks. I’d bet on the A’s not winning a lot of games. The only thing better than a contract year is a player being traded midseason during a contract year. Manny Ramirez anybody?

So Who Benefits From This Trade?

Call me crazy but, if there is one player who could make the most out of this trade, it will be Jack Cust. Cust, although not known for a great batting average (career .239), does have raw power. He hit 26 HR in 124 games in 2007 and 33 HR in 148 games last season. Cust has had crap for support around him in his two full seasons in Oakland and now Holliday’s presence in the lineup will give Cust a better edge. This would be much like when J.D. Drew hit in front of Manny when David Ortiz was on the DL.

Final Thoughts

The trade lowers Holliday’s value. Instead of being a guaranteed first round pick, I think he now slips to Round 3. Hopefully Oakland will deal him midseason and Holliday can land on a better offensive team. If he ends up playing the whole season in Oakland, then don’t expect the numbers to resemble classic Matt Holliday.

At most expect 23-25 HR and just under 100 RBI. He will have value on the basepaths though. Last season’s 28 SB could be a sign that he prefers to run when he gets on base, which he does do a lot (career OBP .386). So, even if the power isn’t there, the stolen bases will heighten his value. The point is that playing in Oakland will suffocate his once prominent power numbers and he may end up as just another average outfielder. I guess you could say that playing in Oakland won’t be much of a…holiday.

Oh come on, I was set up for that one!

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Discussion

2 comments for “TGIF: Matt Holliday to Oakland”

  1. He’s not a first rounder anymore..but if he’s available in the third round, he’s an ABSOLUTE STEAL. The A’s are retooling and they could add Giambi again, which would help Holliday’s value.

    Posted by KC | November 22, 2008, 11:05 am
  2. Holliday is still a LF though. They are a dime a dozen (about as rare as a slugging 1st baseman).

    I’d go for him in the 3rd but I’d go hesitantly.

    In Oakland can Holliday be any better than fellow ’08 SoB League 3rd rounders like Manny Ramirez, Aramis Ramirez, or Nick Markakis? It’d be close

    Posted by Dan | November 22, 2008, 11:06 pm

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