Cheap Seats

Jupiter Journal, March 18, 7:30 am

In his second spring traing with the Cardinals, Matt Holliday is batting well over .400 with power.

I don't think it's a Grapefruit League mirage. While I don't believe he's going to be the first hitter since Ted Williams in 1941 to top the .400 mark, I do believe that Holliday is finally getting comfortable after signing his $120-million mega deal last winter. And I think he's going to be a monster in the middle of the St. Louis lineup this year.

If the distraction of Albert Pujols' contract situation has helped anyone it has helped Holliday. With everyone wringing their hands over Pujols, nobody has made a peep all spring about whether Holliday is worth his $17 milliion a year deal.

If Pujols has a good walk year, I think Holliday will hit .325 with 30 homers this season as the Birds clean-up man. If he does that and the rest of the lineup is on par with those players' career averages, the Redbirds should be right in the thick of things all season long.

While Holliday has been hot, it's safe to say that second year starter Jaime Garcia has not.

Garcia needs to figure out -- and pronto -- what's mixed up with his delivery and get it ironed out. The Birds need all five starters to be pulling on the rope to make up for the loss of Adam Wainwright. But I worry that Garcia will fall back to Earth after a ridiculously good 2010.

First, who expects a rookie to pitch as well as he did all season long? Second, he threw a lot of innings and it wouldn't be a surprise to see his surgically repaired arm take a step backward. Finally, National League hitters got a good look at Garcia, so he's not going to surprise them anymore. Can Garcia make the adjustments to stay on top of the batsmen? Only time will tell.