TOWER GROVE -- When outfielder Matt Holliday declined the Colorado Rockies offer of a four-year, $72-million extension a few years ago, he set in motion a domino rally that, last week, brought him to a coffee shop in West County to talk about his briefly nomadic career.
Since leaving his house in Denver at the end of the 2008 season, Holliday and his family have set up camp in the following areas: Orange County for an offseason, Austin for a moment, Arizona for spring training, Oakland for half a season, St. Louis for two months, Austin for an offseason, Florida for spring training, a new home in St. Louis, and then back to Austin for a few months.
For him, relief was settling into one address, http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/article_6cceac48-1816-5ca7-a123-e7a0cbfe93d6.html?mode=story" target="_blank">which he discussed in a sorty for this morning's Post-Dispatch.
Like they once did to Holliday, the Rockies have spent this winter making extension overtures to its next generation of young stars: shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, the latter coming to Colorado in the Holliday deal with Oakland. http://www.denverpost.com/rockies/ci_17070855" target="_blank">On Tuesday, Gonzalez met with the media in Denver after finalizing his seven-year, $80-million deal with the club. Earlier this winter, the Rockies signed Tulowitzki to a seven-year, $134.5-million extension.
During the interview with Holliday for today's story, I asked him if he watched the Rockies lock-in their two stars with a sense of wonder, a sense of what-if, or even a moment of could-have-been-me.
"Out of general baseball interest," Holliday said. "I'm happy for Tulo. He's somebody who I think a lot of. I don't know Carlos Gonzalez as a person. ... Most of my friends have been weeded-out (in Colorado).
"It's a learning experience," Holliday continued, taking the conversation to the larger question of what rejecting the Rockies' offer meant for his career. "I learned a lot about the business aspect of baseball. I think people's true colors come through. I think you realize the business aspect of it can be ugly and unfriendly. You don't know how manipulative things can turn out. You see how they use things. Ultimately I ended up in a great baseball city in a great situation with an organization that has history and has a chance to win every year. All these things I was looking for -- Midwest city that Leslee and I are very comfortable in. All of the things that when you sit down and envision what you want if you ever get a chance to pick where you go, and what you're looking for.
"I'm glad it unfolded the way it did."
Holliday said as he looked toward inevitable free agency from the outpost of Oakland, the Cardinals were one of the teams he planned to, in his words, "pursue."
His move to St. Louis permanently has "come together fast," he said. He has found a place to workout, taking the suggestion of teammate Chris Carpenter. Holliday has been hitting regulary at the indoor batting cages at Busch Stadium, the ones near the clubhouse. He and third baseman David Freese have been going together, and in the past week Holliday said they've "ramped up" their prep for spring training. During their visit to St. Louis over the holidays, Holliday's dad Tom (associated head coach at NC State) and brother Josh (coach at Vanderbilt) threw BP to the Cardinals outfielder.
On Saturday, photojournalist David Carson and I attended the BP at the ballpark. One of Holliday's friends tagged along to pitch to the hitters, and Freese, who is recovering from ankle surgeries, said it was one of the first time he's hit against a pitcher. http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/article_6cceac48-1816-5ca7-a123-e7a0cbfe93d6.html?mode=video" target="_blank">You can see Carson's professional video here, accompanying the aforementioned story.
Gearing up for spring training and that multimediapalooza that Jupiter is each year, I shot some handheld video with the trusty iPhone. If you like to see some winter swings, I've uploaded some of the video to my YouTube channel:
Yes, if you listen closely, that's Live's "Lakini's Juice" accompanying Freese's swings. Ah, late 1990s alt rock. Let it ride.
Will be back later today with the Cardinals top 10 prospects, the Bird Land Seven, an inventive look at ranking organizations and more in a prospect-heavy entry.