Summer is nearly upon us, which means three things are about to heat up: the weather, the A’s, and trade rumors surrounding Oakland's best player. This year, that player is Matt Holliday, who’s been an Athletic for a grand total of 57 games.
Despite being free of Colorado’s purple jerseys and dinosaur mascot, Holliday appears less than thrilled to be spending his contract year in Oakland. In his brief time here, he's followed the basic formula of an old Clint Eastwood western:
- Man travels in search of fortune;
- Man gets stranded in remote outpost whose townspeople need his help;
- Man briefly offers help (while never smiling);
- Man resumes hunt for fortune
Fortunately for the A’s, they figure to cash in before Holliday does. Any team looking to land the former MVP this season will need to sacrifice a top prospect or two to Billy Beane, prior to drafting a new nine-figure contract extension (it’s ironic that by the time Holliday is finally able to afford a house in the Bay Area, he’ll be playing somewhere else).
Of course, whenever the words “MVP” and “cash” are mentioned, the New York Yankees immediately come to mind. And now that their new stadium plays like Coors Field East, the Bronx Bombers are actually a perfect fit for Holliday.
When the A’s visit New York next month, they may have to tie Holliday to their dugout to keep him from being lured away on the spot, like Odysseus sailing past the sirens.
Beyond his status as a trade chip, Holliday also acts as a temporary tutor for Oakland’s pitching staff. The A’s decided last winter that while their 2009 rotation might be younger than that of a College World Series team, they would at least get a better education. Included in Oakland’s new faculty:
- Holliday, who allows the team’s rookies to learn Pitching 101 without worrying about run support
- Nomar Garciaparra, who provides year-round injury rehab lessons
- Jason Giambi, who was brought back to teach the youngsters how to behave like major leaguers off the field.
The one drawback for the A’s is that they’ll likely have to go through this process all over again next season. The team doesn’t have a middle-of-the-order hitter on its 2010 roster, unless Eric Chavez stops going to Dr. Nick Riviera for his bi-annual surgeries.
If Chavez can manage to stay healthy next year though, he’ll end up filling in for Holliday in more ways than one: his contract expires after the 2010 season.
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