Despite his obvious contributions of a batting average of .301, 25 homers and 94 runs batted in during his four full seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, there are still some folks who like to complain that Matt Holliday doesn't carry his weight with the Cardinals.
But Holliday means even more to the Redbirds than a steady presence in the middle of the batting order. He's the quiet team leader who helps the 25 guys who make up his club come together as a team.
Cardinals fans could catch a glimpse of what Holliday brings to the club besides his bat during some of the early video from Camp Cardinals.
Holliday, a veteran with a guaranteed, multi-year contract doesn't mess around and wait until the last minute to come to spring training. He was there before the report date. And he could be seen hanging out with St. Louis free agent acquisition Jhonny Peralta as the latter took his first ground balls in a Cardinals uniform.
What's the big deal?
Well, Holliday has been something of the team's welcome wagon. He's known in the clubhouse for flying in draft picks on his own dime to show them around St. Louis and tell them what is expected from Cardinals players. He serves an important role of leading by example. But he also, apparently, felt it was important to reach out to Peralta after he has made critical statements of performance enhancing drug users in the past.
Peralta was one of the players suspended last season for his role in a PED scandal revolving around a Florida pill pusher.
Holliday could have said nothing and let the tension simmer between the two. He could have been a jerk and put his personal feelings ahead of what's best for the club. But he didn't, he went right to his new teammate and wiped the slate clean. They'll be no tough feelings or uncertainty as camp starts. All the dogs will be pulling the sled in the same direction. And that's necessary for a club if it is going to be a contender.
It was the right thing to do. And it was the move of a leader. Not someone who wants to APPEAR as if they are a leader. But a true leader.
The Cardinals will sorely miss the in the clubhouse presence of retired hurler Chris Carpenter this season. I look for Holliday, previously a quiet but steady force, to take more of a vocal role to fill the vacuum.