Holliday’s top choice the Bronx, says Davidoff

As we recover from the collective hangover brought on by the Yanks’ epic Game 2 victory, the rumor mill is a-tilt today. The rumor-du-jour involves Matt Holliday, one of the top free agents this winter. According to Ken Davidoff, Holliday’s top choice is New York.

Although the Sunder Insider piece isn’t online as part of Newsday’s awful new website, Davidoff summarized the rumor:

According to a person in the loop, Matt Holliday’s top choices in free agency are: 1) Yankees; and 2) Mets. The Oklahoma native is apparently not intimidated by New York.

As of now, I’d say the Yankees don’t want to make another large purchase like that, in the wake of last winter’s shopping spree – and if they win it all, then the pressure from the yakosphere (trademark Neil Best) to get Holliday should alleviate.

The Mets? Based on Jeff Wilpon’s words from a few weeks ago, they’ll consider anything and everything. Of course, many industry folks are very skeptical that the Mets will actually do so. Holliday’s primary reservation about joining the Mets? Yup, hitting at Citi Field. Maybe they can alter the dimensions? Jerry Manuel hinted near the end of the season that wasn’t impossible.

Mike Silva, writing about this rumor, reminds us of a recent Jon Heyman report in which the Sports Illustrated scribe’s sources say Holliday’s agent will ask for seven years and $150 million. That, of course, is just an initial request. Holliday would probably be content with five years and $100 million.

Meanwhile, in the Bronx, Bill Madden checks in with the Yanks’ off-season preparations. Even though the team on the field is focused on their ultimate goal, the Front Office is busy assessing free agency. Madden believes the Yanks will resign either Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon on a short deal and attempt to fill in from free agency. Interestingly, Madden drops Justin Duchscherer’s name and picks Desmond DeChone Figgins as a left field replacement. Never mind the reality that Figgins has 36 games of left field experience under his belt.

If the Yanks’ choice comes down to one between Holliday and Figgins, I pick Matt Holliday. He’s two years younger than Figgins and probably won’t suffer through as big a decline as Figgins would. The Yanks have around $50 million coming off the books this year and no major pitching holes to fill. They can spend the money on offense, and Holliday wouldn’t be a poor choice if the price is right. But will the price really be right?

Yanks to face Holliday-less A’s this weekend

The rumors had been circulating for a few hours, and now it finally seems official: Matt Holliday is going to the Cardinals for third baseman Brett Wallace, outfielder Shane Peterson and right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen. The Cardinals will also receive $1.5 million from the A’s. So how does this relate to the Yankees? Simple: The Bombers won’t have to face a recently hot Matt Holliday — .330/.402/.536 over his last 26 games — in the remaining contests they have against the A’s this weekend, and that sounds good to me.

Holliday willing to play in NY

Via MLBTR, it turns out that Matt Holliday is willing to play in New York, which is Boras’ way of getting the Yankees and Mets involved for leverage purposes. Back in November we heard from Holliday’s father Tom, who wants his son to play for the Yankees. Me? I’d pass. I don’t want to see the team sign another player to a huge contract and be locked in at first, third and left field for the better part of the next decade. I prefer Carl Crawford, who’s nearly two years younger and a much more well-rounded player. Not to mention the fact that he’d probably come cheaper in both dollars and years.

Fun Fact: Matt Holliday has hit one homerun since August 20th of last year, including Spring Training.

Gammons sees Yanks in on Holliday

Matt Holliday stands to be one of the most sought-after free agents come October. Today, Peter Gammons checked in on the A’s outfielder. Holliday is concerned with his upcoming 2009 campaign, but Gammons speculates on the future. Early indications are that the Angels, Red Sox and Yankees will be competing for Holliday’s services if he proves he can hit outside of Colorado this year. Of the Yanks, Gammons writes, “There are scouts who believe Holliday’s natural center/right-center power is best suited for Yankee Stadium.”

Holliday’s dad wants to see son in Pinstripes

I’ll start by noting that this means little, if anything, to the Yankees Hot Stove pursuits. It’s just an interesting article by RAB-fave Tyler Kepner about Matt Holliday‘s father Tom, pitching coach at North Carolina State University. When he heard his son would likely be traded this off-season, he hoped it would be to an eastern team. Specifically, the New York Yankees.

“If someone would have called me today and said Matt had gotten traded to the Yankees, I’d have been hunting for a place to celebrate.”

Since it’s unlikely the A’s will sign Holliday once he reaches free agency after the 2009 season, there’s a chance Tom could realize his dream. It’s not that great a chance, though. Matt will be 30 for the 2010 season and employs Scott Boras as an agent. This does not bode well for his prospects. Boras will fill a binder full of stretched truths and try to eke out every last penny for his client.

The Yanks will be losing two outfielders/DHs next winter in Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Will they spend a portion of that money, $26 million combined, on Holliday? It’s a possibility, certainly, especially with Xavier Nady hitting free agency for the first time. The Yanks could therefore be in the market for a corner outfielder. Will they pony up the dough and the years to land Holliday? I suppose we’ll find out in a year.

On an interesting note, Tom Holliday was pitching coach at the University of Texas in 2004 when they were the College World Series runners up. He coached Huston Street that year, who is said to be headed to Colorado in the deal.

Oakland celebrates a Holliday

According to Jon Heyman, the A’s have emerged the winners in the Matt Holliday sweepstakes. While we’re still awaiting word on the A’s side of the trade, this is a fairly surprising result. One thing is for sure: The A’s really need the offense.

Update 3:46 p.m.: Tim Brown at Yahoo! Sports reports that the A’s are sending Huston Street, Greg Smith and Carlos Gonzalez to the Rockies. That’s quite a haul for a one-year rental of a player moving from Coors Field to the vast reaches of the McAfee Coliseum.

Rockies trying to keep Yankees in Holliday discussions

It’s a well-known ploy among teams and agents: make sure you float the notion that the Yankees are involved. The idea is that this will cause other teams to pony up more money, lest they lose out to the financial juggernauts of the East. Strategically this works better for free agents, but surely teams like to keep the Yankees involved when they’re talking trade. This winter, we’re seeing this logic employed by the Padres, in the Jake Peavy proceedings, and we’re starting to see it from the Rockies in their quest to deal Matt Holliday.

For today’s edition, we point to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. He opens the article talking about Brian Fuentes, a reported target of our crosstown rivals. In the bottom third, he talks about the potential trades of Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday. He brings up an interesting point, though given the language he uses, it seems that this might be little more than a pipe dream:

There’s a growing likelihood that Matt Holliday will be traded at some point, given that the Rockies have conceded they won’t be able to sign him long-term. When surveying executives about a possible landing spot, the Yankees continue to pop up. One scenario floated: Yankees trade Hideki Matsui to Seattle and land Holliday with a package focusing on starter Phil Hughes.

Of course, trading Matsui doesn’t necessarily open up an outfield spot for Holliday. Brian Cashman has stated that the plan is to have Johnny Damon leading off and starting in left. Matsui, after surgeries on each of his knees in the past year, isn’t expected to play much, if at all, in the outfield. Judging by what we saw of him this year, that’s probably for the better.

The move would allow Damon to DH more frequently. He hit .320/.407/.437 as a DH in 2008 over 119 plate appearances. He was far worse in 2007 as a hitter only — .229/.316/.328 — though early season injuries and general lack of conditioning forced him into that role. He stepped up his production considerably later on that year after retaining his health. He could also play center field some games, perhaps enabling Brett Gardner to sit against lefties.

Renck misses the biggest obstacle in this scenario: Who do the Yanks get back from Seattle? It couldn’t be much. We’re talking about a guy who will turn 35 during the season, who can’t play the outfield, and who is scheduled to make $13 million in the final year of his contract. Even with salary relief coming from the Yankees, the proposition isn’t so attractive for the Ms. Why would they give up a young, controllable player — surely what the Yankees would seek in exchange — for such a player?

Hideki might be headed into the twilight of his career, but he can still be an effective player. If his surgically repaired knees can stand the rigors of DHing, he can provide more value to the Yankees offense than any player they could get in return. Because he’s essentially a one-year rental, teams won’t be apt to give up much value.

And then don’t get me started on trading Hughes for Holliday.