Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Holliday Weekend; Time For Rockies Fans To Get Over Matt Holliday

The Colorado Rockies traded Matt Holliday on November 12th to the Oakland A's in exchange for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith. It was a trade that angered the Rockies fan base and made most people in baseball question the Rockies desire to be a winner.

Holliday had been the Rockies best player for the past three seasons, appearing in three All-Star games and leading the Rockies to the 2008 National League pennant. He was quickly becoming the face of the franchise.

Fans had every right to question the Rockies, the package that they received back for Holliday was a pitcher who had lost in the double digits (Smith), a potential five-tool player who was unproven in the big leagues (Gonzalez) and a deposed closer (Street). Many thought that the package could have contained much more talent and that Dan O'Dowd should have waited further in the offseason for other teams to become desperate.

While some thought that the package was a bad one, most simply thought that trading Holliday was the symbolic waving of the white flag by Rockies ownership. Fans in Denver believed that Holliday was the type of player that the franchise should have opened up the check book for and locked him in long-term.

The trade disenfranchised fans and because several reports said that Holliday was doing all that he could to stay in Colorado, but ownership was not willing to budge and give the slugger a deal longer than four years.

The problem is, Holliday could talk about his desires to stay in Colorado all he wanted. He could talk about how he wanted stability for his children, he could say how money was not the important issue, but the fact is, as soon as he hired Scott Boras as his agent Holliday's true colors came out.

With Boras as his agent the Rockies could have negotiated until their faces turned as purple as Dinger, but they never would have gotten anywhere because Boras is notorious for having his big-name players wait until free agency before selling themselves short with their current team.

Boras is very good at making a player start to get bitter against his current team. This is exactly what happened with Holliday. Towards the end of 2008 Holliday was becoming more and more open about his feelings that the Rockies did not want to win and that he wanted to be on a winner. He made it clear that he believed that the run to the World Series the year prior was simply a fluke and would never happen again unless the team started getting solid talent. Fans did not want to believe it then, but Holliday was taking his first stabs in the back of his teammates.

Later, after it became public that Holliday had turned down a four-year $72 million deal that the Rockies had offered, the left fielder said that he wanted a no-trade clause and that was the major holdup.

After that offer fell through, O'Dowd and the Rockies had no doubt that the 2007 NL MVP runner-up would be hitting the free agent market following the '09 season. Competing with the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Mets was not an option, and the Rox did not want to only gain two draft picks for him, so they looked for suitors.

While most fans were disappointed, some fans understood the reality of the situation. It was made clear through Boras that Holliday wanted nothing less than the absolute highest dollar amount possible, and that would not be coming from the Rockies.

Holliday may have day-dreamed about playing in New York or Boston, hitting behind players like David Wright, or Alex Rodriguez. He may have thought about how nice it would be to play for the Angels and have his family live near the beach. He may have thought that playing with Albert Pujols in St. Louis sounded like fun. But Holliday most certainly never thought that spending one year in Oakland would be good for his career.

Sure enough, without the protection of Todd Helton and Brad Hawpe in the lineup, and hitting at the pitcher friendly Coliseum instead of Coors Field, Holliday is looking pretty average. Through Thursday his batting average sits at a lowly .269 and he has hit only eight home runs to go along with just 39 RBI's.

With the continuing downturn in the economy and Holliday's poor play away from Coors Field, many experts are saying that as Holliday enters free agency he likely is not going to get what he wants. His desire for a six year deal for over $100 million is simply a dream at this point. ESPN's Buster Olney predicts that if Holliday gets a deal longer than a year or two that it will be a three year, $30 million deal. At this rate, Holliday must be kicking himself for not signing the first deal with Colorado, which would have been for one more year and $42 million more.

Despite Holliday's struggles, sit in the seats at Coors Field, talk to fans, or read the comments on the blogs and it is clear that fans are still upset about the trade. They think that if Holliday was on this team that the Rockies would be competing with the Dodgers for first place in the NL West.

The fact is, the Rockies are a better team without Holliday.

Holliday proved to be a player who was only looking out for his own good. He was willing to trash his teammates during a down season and act like his play had nothing to do with the team losing. Imagine a player with the class of Todd Helton saying something like that. It would never happen. During the rebuilding years when Helton was the only attraction on the Rockies, he often took the blame for the team losing 90 games, wishing that he could have done more. Holliday on the other hand, blamed the pitching.

Three weeks ago, Holliday was interviewed on a satellite radio show based in Chicago. He said that he is ready for a trade because the A's are not doing as well as he would like and he would love to play for a contender. It sure seems easy to forget that Holliday is putting up pedestrian numbers that are not exactly what the A's were hoping for when they acquired him for their former Rookie of the Year and two top prospects.

It seems like Holliday has forgotten rule number one in team sports. You win as a team and you lose as a team. If your team is losing, you have as much to do with it as the rest of the team does.

Holliday seems to forget that in five years in Colorado he was a part of only one winning team. In Oakland not much has changed. If he is such a great player who deserves a $100 million contract, maybe he should prove that he can carry a bad team on his back and make a winner out of it, and not just for three weeks, because according to him, that did not happen because of him, all the stars just aligned properly.

While Holliday will forever be a part of the Rockies history, fans need to remember that he is simply that, history. He is not coming back, and frankly, Colorado is not missing him in their lineup. The Rockies have plenty of .269 hitters with eight home runs.

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