Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Holliday Revisited

I am not willing to, as yet, admit that I was dead wrong a couple months ago when I bashed the hell out of the trade to acquire Matt Holiday from Oakland. I still think that signing him is going to be an issue, and the playoffs will of course be an issue as well. But man, oh, man, has he been fun to watch.

I'm not going to get into specific numbers and all that rigmarole, because that's just not what I do. What I know for sure is that the Cardinals would not be the team they are now without his bat in their cleanup slot every night. He's managed to put up over 100 RBIs this season despite a very inauspicious first half with the A's, and with his bat and, to a lesser extent, Mark DeRosa's bat as well, the Cardinals are being mentioned by many as the "team to beat" in the NL.

Not so fast.

Let me dig up some numbers, because they are important for this part. Okay. So, the question remains: Are these Cardinals good enough to get to the World Series? The short answer, in my opinion, is yes. However, I could just as easily see them ousted in the first round. Of the teams that are likely to make the playoffs (that is, the Rockies, Dodgers, and Phillies), all have at least one dominant-to-very-good left handed starter. Cardinals average against lefties this year? .234. I just watched Sean West of Florida tear through our lineup like it was wet toilet paper and then proceed to get mauled my the Kip Wells-led Reds club in Cincy.

Jorge De La Rosa of Colorado is their lone dominant lefty, however the Rockies are playing like the best team in the NL over the past month or so. I do not want to play a streaky team...I found out how that works when we won in '06. And that guy is tough, and on a side note I will probably thank his waiver-wire pickup for me winning in fantasy baseball this year.

The Dodgers would throw Kershaw, Billingsley, and Randy Wolf at us, probably in that order. I don't trust this Cardinal team to beat Kershaw or even Wolf. Wainwright matches up well with Billingsley but you have to admit that ol' Chad is not a bad pitcher in his own right. Thus, the Dodgers scare me.

Finally the Phillies. Oh, the Phillies. You and your possible 7 man rotation. If I'm Charlie Manuel, the Cardinals get Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and good night Irene. Not to mention they have a very potent offense and, for the record, I believe them to be the NL Champs this year.

So we come full circle. If the Cardinals fall short, which no one in St. Louis expects them to, will the Matt Holliday trade have been for naught? I have to say yes to this, and that is regardless of what kind of players Clay Mortensen and Brett Wallace become. He has added a spark to this team that I didn't expect, though, that much I can admit. But one of two things need to happen to cause me to completely rethink this trade: 1) A World Series appearance, or 2) Re-sign him. I do give props to John Mozeliak and the front office for trying to make things happen this year, though. Too many times we have watched the Cardinals go on their merry way and not pick up anyone who could give the team a boost. This year they went out and got 3 of those guys.

Nothing to do now but wait til the playoffs to start and look for an old hat to eat. Go Cards!


  1. I'll do some numbers for you.

    Holliday's line with STL: .358/.416/.637
    Holliday's line with OAK: .286/.378/.454

    I can understand why you were wary of the trade but holy crap is he outperforming expectations. There's no way you could've seen this coming. In fairness part of this must be attributed to hitting in a better lineup but maybe he's motivated or something.

    Assuming he is enjoying his success in St. Louis, and why wouldn't he, there is a better chance of hanging on to him. That said his success makes him a more coveted FA so signing him will be hard. I imagine you will get draft picks out of it when he ends up in Boston so at least you get something out of it.

    Holliday's WAR with STL: 2.5

    Admittedly you are 10 games up but a big reason why the Cubs are phoning it in now is how the Cards have performed since Holliday joined. They are 37-17 since the trade; 52-46 prior. It's still incredible that he is worth that many wins in so few games played. There are only 4 Cardinal position players ahead of him for the entire season.

    As far as your playoff chances it is important to look at your opponents vs. your pitchers as well. Carpenter and Wainwright are arguably the best two pitchers among NL playoff contenders (they are in fact 1-2 in ERA +). Carpenter has only gone against the Dodgers, who he beat twice giving up 3 runs on 14 hits in 16 innings with 10 strikeouts.

    Wainwright has appeared against all three current playoff teams and also saw the Dodgers twice.
    COL: L, 6IP 3H 3R 8K
    PHI: L, 6IP 9H 7R 5K
    LAD: W, 8IP 8H 0R 5K
    LAD: W(ND), 7IP 4H 2R 3K

    Assuming Pineiro is your #3
    COL: L, 5IP 10H 3R 4K
    PHI: W, 6IP 4H 0R 3K
    LAD: W(ND), 8IP 6H 1R 7K

    Of course anything can happen in the playoffs and regular season stats mean about as much as an infrequently read baseball blog come the postseason. I'm just hoping for a good series.

    I will be rooting for the Cards.

  2. "Of course anything can happen in the playoffs and regular season stats mean about as much as an infrequently read baseball blog come the postseason."

    I'd sure hate to be THOSE guys...