Despite spending just one season with the team, slugger Matt Holliday became a beloved member of the New York Yankees, in large part because his surge coincided with 2017, the most surprisingly pleasurable season in recent history.
Unfortunately, Holliday wasn’t his early-season self by the time the postseason rolled around that year, and never fully recovered from a mysterious virus (Epstein-Barr) that sapped his strength during a July roadtrip. In the first half, Holliday crunched 15 homers with an .877 OPS and 133 OPS+. After taking a summer break? .179 average, .525 OPS and four homers in the second half.
For those who lost his first-half contributions in the shuffle of a long season back in ’17, 2022 served as a surprising refresher course on Holliday as a fan favorite in the Bronx; it was well-reported that his offseason work as a hitting guru for Matt Carpenter led, in large part, to Carp’s remarkable summer.
It’s quite ironic (and depressing) that Carpenter ultimately suffered the same fate as Holiday, having his red-hot run obscured by weakness in October.
Coming off a 2022 where he saw his son Jackson, who obviously learned plenty under his wing, get selected first overall by the Baltimore Orioles, while also working with veterans like Carpenter and the Oklahoma State baseball team, Holliday parlayed his resurgence into a bench coaching job with his former team, the St. Louis Cardinals. Perfect fit! Exceptional pairing.
Until it just … wasn’t? Holliday resigned his position unexpectedly on Thursday, acquiescing to Joe McEwing instead. He reportedly would like to spend more time with his family, a conclusion he came to sometime between his November hiring and the new year. Strange.
What … just happened to former Yankees OF Matt Holliday’s bench coach job with the Cardinals?
Holliday lasted longer as the Cardinals’ bench coach than Eric Chavez did last year as an assistant Yankees hitting coach (RIP Chavez’s pinstriped tenure, two full weeks in 2021), so he’s got that going for him.
McEwing is a very experienced pivot for the Cardinals, and they’re lucky they were able to make such a switch on such short notice.
This is a notable reversal, though, no matter how St. Louis tries to minimize the bizarre nature of this move. Jackson Holliday’s first year of pro ball will have him on the road, away from home, and learning plenty on the fly. Perhaps Matt wants to travel with him, or at least stay flexible in that arena, while also helping to develop his younger son Ethan’s game (who is three classes behind Jackson).
Not sure we’ll ever get a thorough explanation here.
Holliday’s next steps are uncertain, though one would have to expect he’ll remain active on his brother Josh’s staff with the Cowboys in Stillwater, his alma mater.
It remains a shame that Holliday’s big-league coaching stint will be just as unresolved as his Yankees career.