Holliday returns to Oakland, finds unfamiliar faces

Holliday returns to Oakland, finds unfamiliar faces
June 28, 2013, 6:15 pm
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The A's traded Matt Holliday in exchange for first baseman Brett Wallace, outfielder Shane Peterson and right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

OAKLAND -- The A's traded Matt Holliday to the St. Louis Cardinals for a package of prospects 93 games into the 2009 season. Holliday is back in Oakland for the first time nearly four years later, but not all the faces are familiar.

"I have to look at the roster," Holliday said Friday. "There's not a whole lot of them left from when I was here. I know Seth Smith from Colorado, but that's not from here. Kurt Suzuki's gone. Mark Ellis is gone. All the guys. Dallas is gone. Cahill. Gio. Most of 'em have moved on."

In fact, only two players that were on the A's 2009 Opening Day roster are still with the team -- pitchers Brett Anderson and Jerry Blevins.

Still, when asked what positive memories remain from his stint in Green and Gold, Holliday said it's the people.

"The coaches and front office," he clarified. "I enjoyed my time with all of them -- great people and great teammates."

A's GM Billy Beane shipped Holliday in exchange for first baseman Brett Wallace, outfielder Shane Peterson and right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen -- hardly the bounty you might expect from a man making $17 million a season.

"Billy's really smart," Holliday said. "When he has guys that are going to make money or price themselves out of the market, he's able to go get young players. They've traded well and developed young players and they have really good young pitching. That's part of having a smaller market team, you have to make wise business moves."

Since that trade, Holliday has hit 101 home runs for the Cardinals, winning the World Series in 2011. Since that trade, Yoenis Cespedes is tied with Kurt Suzuki for the most home runs by an Athletic with 38.

One memory Holliday didn't mention was playing home games at the Oakland Coliseum, which has been a recent hot-button topic following San Jose's lawsuit against MLB.

Holliday has played 47 career games in the building that opened almost 47 years ago, where the 10-year veteran is hitting .286 with seven home runs.

"It's old," the 33-year-old Holliday said of the ballpark. "It's not ideal. But they do a great job, the grounds crew. The playing surface is immaculate. Everyone knows they'd like to have a new stadium, and it would probably allow them to do some financial things differently."

While Cardinals-A's matchups are rare -- Friday will mark the 10th-ever interleague game between the two clubs -- Holliday says he enjoys keeping up with his old team and watching A's baseball.

"They had a phenomenal season (last year) and they're off to a great start this year," Holliday said. "They play the game the right way."

They'll need to in order to beat Holliday's new team, which boasts baseball's best record at 48-30.


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