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10 April 2011

Holliday's Return Should Help Cardinals Offense

The St. Louis Cardinals hope to get a big lift today as slugger Matt Holliday returns to the line-up.  Out since the second day of the season due to surgery to remove his appendix, the Redbird outfielder has successfully paid off the team's gamble to not put him on the 15-day DL.

Holliday has been sorely missed in a line-up that has found runs extremely hard to come by.  The Cardinals offense has been consistent in 2011 - consistently ineffectual both in the number of hits and for power.  Despite playing only one game out of St. Louis' eight thus far, Holliday accounts for a full 33% of the Cardinals home runs.

Protection for Pujols
Brought to the ballclub to provide protection for Albert Pujols, his absence has been glaring.  Pujols is hitting a meager .167 and worse, he is only slugging at a .267 rate. Cardinal Nation is hoping that Holliday's return boosts Pujols to his usual outrageous production.

But Holliday offers more than that.  His presence changes the whole dynamic of the line-up.  With Holliday back, the heart of St. Louis' order is much more frightening to an opposing pitcher.  It is what manager Tony La Russa imagined coming into the season - numbers 2-5 would be Colby Rasmus, Pujols, Holliday, and Lance Berkman.  Rasmus is one of the few Cardinals hitting well, and adds danger to the two-hole.  Berkman has been hitting the ball hard, but not getting much luck.  And it's simply a matter of time before Pujols' bat heats up to normal.

Cards Need To Improve Run Support
The Cardinals starting pitching has been fantastic so far this season, but has little to show for their superlative effort.  Getting only 2,6 runs/game in support, the pressure on the staff is suffocating.  Add in the alarming number of mental mistakes the position players are making and one gets the feeling that a Cardinal starter could lose a game while pitching a no-hitter.

Perhaps adding Holliday is the tonic for the belly-aches all Cardinal fans are suffering.

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