Monday, November 10, 2008

Matt Holliday to Become Mortal

We weren't expecting this:

The A's are closing in on a deal that would send star outfielder Matt Holiday from Colorado to Oakland, has learned. It isn't known yet which players will be sent to Oakland in the surprise deal . . .

. . . Oakland owner Lew Wolff has recently told confidants he's tired of losing, and this may be the first step toward contending again. Although, they better do it soon, as Holliday is eligible for free agency after the 2009 season. He is to make $13 million in '08, a princely sum for an Oakland player. The A's could also consider trading Holliday, perhaps at the deadline, if they so desire.
Look, I don't think that Matt Holliday is a Coors creation on par with Dante Bichette or Vinny Castilla. He's a good player. But based on his splits (home: .357/.423/.645; road: .280/.348/.455) he has been greatly helped by his home park, and moving to a place like Oakland is going to make him look very ordinary very fast.

You'd think Beane, of all people, would understand this. And he might. Based on Heyman's article, Lew Wolff may be behind this, and the point may be to have Holiday spearhead a drive for adequacy as the A's try to get some steam behind their move to Fremont.

As a baseball move, however, a lot of it depends on what the A's are giving up. If it's anything of serious value, I am having a hard time seeing how this is a smart move for Oakland.

(link via FanHouse)

UPDATE: Um, I may have had my mind changed about that park effects argument.


Jason @ IIATMS said...

Some data as I was researching Holliday last week:

Some quick data on Holliday's career Home/Away splits:
AB: 359
BA: .357
OBP: .423
OPS: 1.068
HR: 84
RBI: 307

AB: 339
BA: .280
OBP: .348
OPS: .803
HR: 44
RBI: 176

His 2008 Home/Away Splits were more even, though:
AB: 73
BA: .332
OBP: .413
OPS: .997
HR: 15
RBI: 59

AB: 66
BA: .308
OBP: .405
OPS: .892
HR: 10
RBI: 29

(all stats courtesy of

Eric said...

without knowing what they've given up to get him isn't it too quick to judge or are you basing that solely on the dollars?

Craig Calcaterra said...

Dollars and the fact that he's a free agent after next year. The A's spent last season tearing down. An expensive corner outfielder on the verge of free agency is not the kind of thing you go out and get in that situation.

Pete Toms said...

Yeah, I've read in the Hot Stove world that Oakland might increase payroll for 09. I'm not sure why....I will say that redistribution of wealth in MLB works better than most fans think.

tadthebad said...


Holliday had fewer than 150 ABs last year? That can't be right, is it?

Doug said...

Those splits for 2008 must reflect his games played, not his ABs, tadthebad. I'm sure Jason @ IIATMS will correct it.

J Kuhner said...

Holliday ROAD OPS for the last 3 years:
2006 - 810
2007 - 860
2008 - 892
LF with better TOTAL OPS during that same time:
Manny, Dunn, Soriano, Carlos Lee, Burrell, Ryan Braun.
So I disagree that he will become "very ordinary, very fast." And Beane will gladly take 2 draft picks for Holliday at the end of 2009.

christopher said...

I don't think the money is a big deal. The A's had a bare bones payroll last year ($47m), but they have spent much more than that in the past. They usually hover around $60m, and had a $80m payroll in 2007. As long as they didn't give up too much, a one year flier on a good bat seems like something they can absorb.

Their pitching is solid, and if some of their young bats step up...

Anonymous said...

Looks like Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith. If I'm the A's I don't mind losing Street and Gonzalez but Greg Smith may have been a mistake. You know, it's always pitching, pitching, pitching.

Alex said...

Suggesting that Beane is basically trading for draft picks is an interesting point, but imagine if Holliday has an off-year, compounded with an unfriendly home park, and isn't a type-A free agent. Yikes.

Justin Zeth said...

It's Holliday for Greg Smith, Carlos Gonzalez and an as-yet unknown third player, possibly Brett Anderson. Huston Street is apparently *not* involved.

I have two questions about this deal, if I may.

1. What has Billy Beane been smoking?
2. Where can I get some?

Peter said...

I don't know a whole lot about Greg Smith, but his K/IP and K:BB were pretty terrible last year, and his second-half ERA was awful. And he did that in a pretty extreme pitcher's park.

Beane has been trying to deal Street for at least a year now, his performance declined significantly last year, and people are speculating about the possibility of an injury. I wonder if Beane isn't trading in Street before his value declines further and carrying it forward in the form of Holliday.

Holliday, unless he has a horrific year, is a lock to be a Type A free agent and decline arbitration. So one year of Holliday and two draft picks is essentially a hard floor for the A's on this deal. Holliday's also a big enough name at this point that, even if he has a so-so year, he'll still draw major interest at the deadline. And, who knows -- with the Angels potentially losing Tex and KRod next year, the A's (admittedly with a bit of luck) might actually have a shot in the West.

Pete Toms said...

@ Peter, I had the same thought, the AL West is awful. If the Angels have a poor season in 09...Texas? Seattle?

I kinda wonder why Colorado is interested in Gonzalez given that they have Fowler...

Jason @ IIATMS said...

Ooooops, sorry. That's indeed Games Played, not AB. Sorry for the goof

Daniel said...

Except there's no reason to think the Angels will have a poor season. Even if they performed at their Pythagorean W-L, the Angels would have won the division by 10 games. They may not re-sign Tex, but Arte's got some money and will sign SOMEONE (and remember the Angels only had Tex for 2 months). I just don't see the A's improving by 12 - 15 games with Holliday.

That being said, I think this is a good deal for them. They convince their 12 fans that they're serious about winning. If they are in contention, they hold onto Holliday and snag 2 picks when he walks. If they're not, they trade him at midseason for prospects.

Peter said...

I'm not pushing the A's as serious contenders just yet, but 88 wins (the Angels' Pythagorean Record) is not an incredibly high bar, and there is a significant chance that the Angels will not be as good next year.

scatterbrian said...

craig, check out this piece at regarding home/road splits

Craig Calcaterra said...

Scatterbrain: thanks for the link. I've put up a new post about Holliday in light of it.