When Matt Holliday signed his blockbuster $120 million deal back at the beginning of 2010, the goal was for Holliday to protect Albert Pujols.
Mission accomplished for the most part. Holliday was outstanding in 2010 and outstanding for the majority of 2011. He made the National League All-Star team both seasons and had extremely good numbers across the board. At times though, Holliday was nearly non-existent in the St. Louis lineup.
Many nights it seemed like it was either jackpot or bust with Holliday. The Cardinals cannot afford this in 2012.
St. Louis will need consistency throughout their lineup if they want to make another run at a championship in 2012.
Like any ball player, Holliday will have his great nights and his terrible nights, but the key for Holliday is to minimize these instances. Instead of having a four-hit night followed by two nights with no hits and no production at the plate, St. Louis needs Holliday to spread things out more, and have back to back two-hit nights for example.
Obviously, this is one of those easier-said-than-done situations. I don't expect Holliday to be a completely transformed player come spring training; he will still have nights where he simply looks lost at the plate. But, again, the key is to reduce those nights.
The Cardinals will need everything they can get out of Matt Holliday this season.
They will once again need him back at All-Star-caliber level, but they will need him to show up with that All-Star caliber level every night. They need him to focus each night and try to avoid those droughts where he goes an entire series without reaching the base pads.
If Holliday can finally start to do this, then the Cardinals will finally be getting full value out of the contract they rewarded him in January 2010.