Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate DNVR Sports Community!

Michael Cuddyer wows with his bat as Colorado Rockies avoid 100 losses

David Martin Avatar
September 20, 2014
Michael Cuddyer is fun to watch, but should the Rox re-sign him?

Crisis averted.

The Colorado Rockies will not lose 100 games, as so many had predicted that they would. A 15-2 drubbing of the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field ensured that the most they can lose is 99 games. Two more wins in their final nine games will keep them from posting a franchise-worst record.

The hero on Friday night was Michael Cuddyer, who provided plenty of fireworks for the fans long before the actual fireworks display started. In the 6th inning he connected for a grand slam. The ball was a no-doubter deep into the left field seats. In the following inning he came back to the plate with the bases jammed again. This time he drilled a 1-1 pitch into the left-center gap for a bases-clearing double.

The seven RBIs were a career-high for the very accomplished outfielder. It was an impressive performance, and the Rockies continued their offensive onslaught the started three days prior against the Dodgers. It was an onslaught that was nowhere to be found on the six-game road trip the Rockies just returned from.

With Cuddyer still playing on a near-daily basis, despite prospects who have been called up for September sitting around on the bench waiting for a shot, the Rockies clearly have every intention of re-signing the veteran.With his three-year deal coming to an end after the season, Cuddyer will be a free agent.

Most teams in the Rockies boat would be limiting a player like Cuddyer’s time. He is very expensive, making $10 million per year, has been hurt as frequently as the two superstars the Rockies have, and is four years older than Troy Tulowitzki. In a season where the Rockies have been out of the race since June, September should be all about seeing what the prospects can bring to the table at the big league level.

The conundrum with Cuddyer is exactly what happened on Friday night. He takes the most professional at-bat of any Rockie in years. He knows how to work counts, he plays fundamental baseball at the plate, and he isn’t afraid to hit to all parts of the field. His approach is the definition of professional. He is easy to like.

However, when a team is rebuilding, tough decisions have to be made. With the emergence of Corey Dickerson, an All-Star first half from Charlie Blackmon, an impressive season from speedster Drew Stubbs and a resurgence of Justin Morneau at first base, keeping Cuddyer, and his high salary, won’t necessarily help the team in any one spot.

This isn’t meant to disparage Cuddyer. He deserves as much respect as he can be given. At some point, though, his injury history and his age is going to become even more of a factor than it already is.

If the Rockies are bent on keeping him, the answer has to come in the form of him taking a huge reduction in salary. There is no way the Rockies should retain him at the same level that they have paid him over the previous three seasons. With nearly $45 million already committed to three players, a team with a $90 million budget simply cannot afford to throw $10 million more at a guy just because they like him a lot.

If Cuddyer is willing to give the Rockies a discount, something that he wouldn’t have to do considering he is a year removed from a batting title, it might be alright if they re-sign him. What they would need to do is trade one of their outfielders. The easy answer from the frustrated fan is to deal Carlos Gonzalez. That wouldn’t be the right move though. The person to deal would be Drew Stubbs. The right-handed bat is been very good, but he struggles against righties and it can’t be forgotten that he was essentially given up on by his two previous organizations. He strikes out far too frequently and is probably a platoon player who has had a great year.

Again, this isn’t meant to disparage Stubbs either. With his salary due for another arbitration increase, the Rockies could shed that salary and essentially sign Cuddyer for what Stubbs would have made or slightly less and still come out alright.

That would leave Corey Dickerson to man center field, a scary proposition, Carlos Gonzalez in left field and Cuddyer in right most nights. Blackmon would be relegated to a fourth outfielder role, something that might fit him a little better anyway. Filling Stubbs role might be Kyle Parker, who simply hasn’t had a chance to show if he can be the guy yet.

Cuddyer is a fun player to watch, but the Rockies don’t have the luxury to spend a ton of money on a guy who isn’t going to be the answer to them turning things around. They need to be more forward thinking and start the process of building to be a winner in two to three seasons.

Signing Cuddyer is something that wouldn’t hurt in a perfect world, but in the Rockies flawed existence, they need both the roster spot, and the salary flexibility to find someone else that can be the long-term answer.

Follow me on Twitter @RockiesReview. Like me on Facebook, search “Rockies Review”

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?