Too soon for Holliday to talk of leaving Cards

Flushing, NY - Tuesday, August 4, 2009. N.Y. Flushing, NY - Tuesday, August 4, 2009. N.Y. Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field.. Matt Holliday fouls off a pitch in the 2nd inning. He struck out. Photo by David Pokress Photo Credit: David Pokress/David Pokress

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Cardinals leftfielder Matt Holliday, who could fill a need for the Mets this offseason when he's a free agent, is hitting his way into a potentially huge contract.

Holliday, 29, has a .488 average with three home runs in 11 games since being traded to St. Louis from the last-place Athletics a week before the non-waiver trade deadline. On the season he's batting .308 with 14 homers and 65 RBIs.

But Holliday said Tuesday, before going 1-for-6 with an RBI in a 12-7 St. Louis win in 10 innings at Citi Field, it's too soon for him to consider his next contract.

"You know I haven't really sat down and sort of set up what I am or am not interested in," he said. "I'll have plenty of time in the offseason to sort of come up with what I'm looking for."

Holliday, who had a 10-game hit streak end Sunday, said his focus is on winning instead of money. The Cardinals are 59-50, tied with the Cubs for the NL Central lead.

"It's a nice jolt, if you will, to be playing meaningful games," Holliday said.

Holliday's arrival also has helped offset the recent struggles of first baseman Albert Pujols, who's hitting .226 since the break. Pujols entered the All-Star game with a .332 average and 32 home runs, and said he'd be happy with his numbers if the season ended today.

But even before he went cold the Cardinals were looking for protection.

"Well look at his numbers, is that rocket science?" Pujols said of the boost Holliday provides. "He's been one of the best hitters in the National League for four years before he went to Oakland and he's back in the National League and he's putting up big numbers, helping us to win every day."

Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa had his eye on Holliday long before July, though. When the Rockies, who drafted Holliday, were shopping the three-time All-Star this winter, LaRussa got a little carried away.

"We had a couple of you know teases there in the winter, so I had already started a couple times making out lineups with his name," LaRussa said. "You get your heart broken."

Once with Oakland, Holliday said A's general manager Billy Beane had said he likely wouldn't be traded unless a good deal came along. Now that he has been traded and has a chance to win, Holliday said he doesn't want to think about the next step.

"I want to be a good teammate to these guys who also are working their tails off to try make it to the postseason and ultimately win a World Series," he said. "So I won't be distracted by dollar signs or any length of contract or any of that other stuff."

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