Yankees News: It’s Good To Be Matt Holliday These Days
The Yankees were one of the several teams that Matt Holliday considered signing with before he decided to put on the Pinstripes. Destined to be a key component in the Yankees offense this season, Holliday is in a win-win situation that offers him a new and revitalized life in baseball. Not many veterans at age 37 get a chance like this. Indeed, this one is a good baseball story.
The Yankees, and in particular Brian Cashman, made one of the slickest under-the-radar deals of the offseason when they signed Matt Holliday to a one-year contract for the 2017 season. There are no frills in the deal. It’s for one year at $13 million. Holliday comes to the team, plays the season out, and then both sides decide if the marriage should continue. Simple.
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For Holliday, he appears to be liking it all. And if anything tells us that, it’s the picture that accompanies the story appearing in Newsday today, showing him with a broad smile at a Knicks game with his two children. He’ll learn quickly about the Knicks as a source of entertainment in New York City, but it’s apparent that he’s excited and rejuvenated by the move to the Yankees.
The Yankees And Matt Holliday – It’s A Win-Win
And, why shouldn’t he be? His former team, the St. Louis Cardinals, had quietly made him aware they wanted to move in a different (read younger) direction. To his credit, Holliday himself quickly realized that as an opportunity to put a final stamp on his seven-time All-Star career by playing with a team that already has its youth movement in tow. Holliday summed up the process in this way, telling Newsday:
"“There’s five or six teams that I spoke to my agent about that could possibly be a fit, and they were one of them,’’ he said of the Yankees, “so I was hoping they’d have interest, and they did.’’"
Holliday, though, doesn’t necessarily see the Yankees in a re-building mode:
"“I don’t think anybody comes into a season not expecting to have a lot of success. Obviously, in this organization, the expectation is to win a championship. That’s how I prepare every day personally, and I expect everybody else will do the same.’’"
Mentioning Holliday’s preparation turns out to be a good lead in about the real value in having Holliday on this team. And that’s leadership. Because as Cashman realized, you can’t have a bunch of kids only taking the field and living the big league life without the presence of a few seasoned veterans to balance the team. Cashman expands on this thought:
"“We wanted a veteran leader who could both impact us in the lineup and in that clubhouse,’’ Cashman said. “There’s some big shoes to continue to fill from leadership voids. We had Carlos Beltran here. We had obviously Alex Rodriguez here, we had Mark Teixeira here . . . It’s very important when you transition into a younger player that you have some real prime leadership examples to show them the way, and I think we picked a good one in Matt Holliday.’’"
You picked not only a good one, Brian. You chose an excellent one. Think about it from Holliday’s perspective. He gets an opportunity to come in for a year to test the waters without making a long-term commitment to either the Yankees or New York City. How close is the team to becoming a viable contender for a World Series Championship? One year? Two years? Now? He’ll have a better sense of that as the season moves forward.
And what about all those horror stories he’s heard about the New York media. And what about his family’s take on the city. More questions, more answers to follow.
The Yankees Believe There’s A Lot Left In The Tank
I get what Theo Epstein has done with the Chicago Cubs, also what Dave Dombrowski is doing with the Boston Red Sox. Taking nothing away from them, Brian Cashman is on a roll too. And if things pan out the way many expect them too, the addition of Matt Holliday can easily turn out to be one of the best moves Cashman has made.
Yankees hitting coach, Alan Cockrell, is familiar with Holliday and has coached him before. Cockrell told Newsday:
"“He actually looks a lot the same like he did when he was a kid,’’ Cockrell said. “I had him two or three years in the big leagues [and] he is trying to get back to doing some of the things that he did at that stage in his career. He looks great.’’"
Next: The Yankees Can And Should Utilize Their Speed
So, he looks great, he feels great, what more is needed? I’m just saying, this could be the signing of the off-season. Stay tuned.