Matt Holliday should play in Baltimore for no other reason than that together with Felix Pie he would allow the Orioles to compete for having the most players with names that invite witty headline attempts.
Take, for example, this offering from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Holliday Intrigue: Orioles in, and a ‘mystery team’ arrives.”
Just imagine the Holliday Inn Express possibilities. I’m picturing Jumbotron videos that rival the 2008 Kevin Millar Orioles Magic fare.
Baltimore: We do humor better than baseball! Have a laugh at our team on and off the field.
The Post-Dispatch story is worth reading for more than just the headline. Derrick Goold rightly points out that this script mirrors the media narrative for Mark Teixeira last off-season. In other words, some folks might just be getting played (again) by Scott Boras.
This Courtship of Holliday is following a familiar script: Mark Teixeira, Take 2.
Last season, the Orioles were interested in signing Teixeira because he had Maryland roots and they had an opening at first base. The pursuit of Teixeira was, if you recall, positioned as a three-team derby, with the Los Angeles Angels looking to re-signing him and Baltimore and Boston vying to woo him back east. As Christmas approached, a word of a mystery team came and went, the talks seemed to delay and drag on. Then, out of the blue, came the New York Yankees, who swooped in with the $180-million offer.
The Garrett Atkins/Brian Roberts angle on this story – namely that Holliday is friendly with both players and was an FCA rep along with Roberts – fits with the Hot Stove Myths and Truths I discussed last off-season.
Narrative/Myth #1: We’re an attractive destination for a top free agent because we have an “in” with him (aka “The Hometown Discount”/”Hometown Hero” Effect).
The thinking here is that a player’s relationship to the city, the team, or its personnel will propel him to take a below-market deal with the Orioles. This favored narrative applies to cases where we’re trying to keep a guy in the fold (i.e. the hometown discount) or to bring him into the fold (i.e. the hometown hero). Mike Mussina was an example of the former, Mark Teixeira is an example of the latter. A.J. Burnett, whose wife is from the Baltimore area and who has an off-season home in Monkton, could also fit into the latter category.
I would love to add Matt Holliday’s bat to the Orioles’ lineup and to see what kind of trade that would allow the team to make from there. But, as was the case when Teixeira flirted with the Birds, I’m not getting my hopes up.