CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article On the Beat: Checking ... (12/16)
<< Previous Column
Transaction Analysis: ... (12/15)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (12/19)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Pirates ... (12/16)

December 16, 2011

Transaction Analysis

Cuddyer to Colorado

by R.J. Anderson

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

COLORADO ROCKIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Signed OF-R Michael Cuddyer to a three-year deal worth $31.5 million.  [12/16]

On Thursday, Ben Lindbergh wrote this about Minnesota’s Josh Willingham signing:

Meet the Twins’ new left fielder, almost the same as the Twins’ old right fielder. Willingham is eerily similar to Michael Cuddyer; both players are defensively-challenged corner outfielders and right-handed hitters who’ll turn 33 shortly before Opening Day. Cuddyer has the more winning smile, but it’s hard to quantify the effect of that on the kind of winning teams ultimately care about. Aside from the smiling, Willingham does everything Cuddyer does, but a little more. He walks a little more often, strikes out a little more often, and hits for a little more power. He doesn't play a little more than Cuddyer—he's averaged only 121 games over the past four seasons thanks to an array of nagging injuries—but like Rafael Furcal (see below), he makes more of the time he does spend on the field. That makes him both the better player and—since rumor had it the Twins were talking to Cuddyer about a $24 million package before deciding to make a change—the better deal, though his medical history might make Twins fans skittish after the team's injury-plagued 2011.

To Ben’s point, Willingham does have four more Wins Above Replacement Player than Cuddyer since 2009, yet it is Cuddyer receiving the more lucrative deal. That the Rockies offered Cuddyer this pact after seeing, 1) him lose a potential suitor, and 2) a superior player sign for cheaper is puzzling. Dan O’Dowd spent time before signing Cuddyer cleaning budget room by trading the likes of Ian Stewart, Chris Iannetta, and Huston Street, thus allowing him to splurge on Cuddyer.

The meat of Cuddyer’s value comes in his bat, defensive flexibility, and industrious attitude. Comparisons to Willingham aside, Cuddyer is a passable hitter. Cuddyer has managed a 117 adjusted-OPS over the past three seasons—good enough to rank 73rd amongst players with 500-plus plate appearances. Solid performances versus lefties (resulting in a .327 multi-year True Average) buoy Cuddyer’s offensive numbers, although he is about average when facing righties too. The problem with Cuddyer’s reputation is not his bat, which is fine—and will be made finer by Coors Field—but the defensive flexibility portion.

There is unquestioned value in having a player who can fill in at more skilled positions when necessary, and Cuddyer can fit that bill, but he has not been a super-utility man in the Ben Zobrist vein. In the last three campaigns, Cuddyer has spent fewer than 300 innings at second and third base. Meanwhile, Cuddyer’s time in the outfield and at first base eclipses the 3,500-inning mark, but finding a defensive metric that applauds Cuddyer’s efforts in the outfield is as easy as fitting an elephant into a bottle.

Ostensibly, the outfield is where Cuddyer fits into the Rockies’ plans. With Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler penciled in as the other starters, Cuddyer’s arrival all but ends any question as to whether Seth Smith will open the season with the Rockies—thus casting Tyler Colvin into a reserve spot as the left-handed hitting alternate. It is possible, albeit unlikely, that Colorado could opt to have Cuddyer play third base while top prospect Nolan Arenado plays in the upper minors, but the best guess right now is that Cuddyer will man the outfield. 

A scout told John Perrotto in June that, “[He] had a feeling [Cuddyer’s] going to cash in somewhere.” The same prescient scout praised Cuddyer’s pop, versatility, and clubhouse demeanor. The Rockies are known for valuing high-character players, and Cuddyer fits the mold. You just wonder if the Rockies had to pay this much to get their man.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Michael Cuddyer

18 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

ColonelTom

Huge overpay for the Rockies. You have to be happy for Cuddyer, known as one of the game's good guys, getting one more big contract.

If Cuddyer got 3/$31.5M, what is Beltran worth? 3/$45M or more?

Dec 16, 2011 11:48 AM
rating: 0
 
jhardman

Maybe this explains why Minnesota didn't hold on to Cuddyer. He was getting ridiculously better offers....

As a Strat-O-Matic player, Cuddyer is fabulous. Not quite so in real life. But I'm thrilled to see a good guy get a big contract.

Dec 16, 2011 12:03 PM
rating: 0
 
Scott44

Don't mind the $10 million part, but don't like the three year term. Unfortunately he was being offered three year deals, so the Rox, I guess did what they had to do. I would've preferred a two year deal, maybe for a bit more per year, say two years $23 million. Because Cuddyer, with his ability to play OF, 1B, 3B, and 2B (adequately) gives them a lot of flexibility and is pretty valuable in the short term. Especially if they don't want to rush Arenado, they can plug him in at 3B, or 2B once and awhile. Helton also needs to be rested frequently and is often injured so there is another reason it was a good move, at least for the next year, or possibly two.

Dec 16, 2011 12:08 PM
rating: 0
 
ColonelTom

Adequately. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. :)

Dec 16, 2011 12:15 PM
rating: 4
 
Scott44

Keep using it, what do you mean? I used it once.

Dec 16, 2011 16:09 PM
rating: 0
 
cfinberg

It's a Princess Bride reference. It is inconceivable that you didn't get the joke!

Dec 16, 2011 17:00 PM
rating: 5
 
Scott44

oh god.

Dec 16, 2011 18:18 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

That line wasn't in themovie...

fail

:)

Dec 17, 2011 12:22 PM
rating: -1
 
thegeneral13

The Twins have consistently had one of the worst infields in baseball and yet Cuddyer has barely played any 2B or 3B for them. If it was at all possible for him to play a passable 2B or 3B on an even semi-regular basis the Twins would have tried it; if they couldn't stomach it, I don't think anyone will be able to. As an injury fill-in or as part of a late-inning double switch his ownership of an infielder's glove is worth something, but not much.

Dec 16, 2011 13:43 PM
rating: 2
 
bobbygrace

As a Twins fan, I'll corroborate this and R.J.'s original piece: Michael Cuddyer is no great shakes in the field. That said, it's hard to imagine Ron Gardenhire putting a non-glove man (or at least a player who isn't expressly an infielder) up the middle. The fact that Cuddyer could hit might actually have diminished the odds that he'd ever appear at second base for the Twins. This is the team that shipped out J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson because we wanted "more speed up the middle." I'm half joking, but my point is that Cuddyer might have been a good enough hitter to have warranted a try over some of our second-sack options over the past decade.

It's still true that Cuddyer is not a strong fielder. Two qualities help to compensate. First, he has a strong arm to help keep runners at bay. Second, he's willing and able to be a warm body anywhere on the diamond in a pinch -- he even pitched a scoreless inning (with two walks, IIRC) for the Twins last year. That's worth something, especially in a guy who can hit as he can.

Dec 16, 2011 13:54 PM
rating: 0
 
thegeneral13

If I remember correctly, the Twins believed his defensive struggles at 2B hurt his offensive production, and cited this as a reason they wouldn't consider moving him back to 2B when there was a clear need. With a strong arm but limited range, he seemed like a better fit for 3B than 2B anyway, but perhaps he has a slow first step.

Dec 16, 2011 14:35 PM
rating: 0
 
Doug Thorburn

... and it's probably a good idea to keep him out of harm's way, thus preserving his bat in the lineup, by avoiding those dangerous takeout slides at 2B.

Dec 16, 2011 18:02 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

For the record, why have Giambi on the roster if not to rest Helton?

Dec 17, 2011 01:30 AM
rating: 0
 
Scott44

It's the NL, he's a valuable pinch hitter.

Dec 17, 2011 06:47 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Giambi's generally had 20-30 games a year playing first. I think it would be a bit of a waste of Cuddyer's flexibility if he plays too much first base.

Dec 17, 2011 07:43 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Cuddyer is the Rockies way of paying for Ty Wigginton 2.0 and Melvin Mora 3.0

Dec 17, 2011 01:30 AM
rating: 1
 
amazin_mess

Is anyone else wondering what the hell the Rockies are doing this winter? I can't make sense out of any of their moves.

Dec 18, 2011 00:44 AM
rating: 1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Looks like wheel spinning. With all they've done, I don't think they've actually improved the team or their minor league system.

Dec 18, 2011 15:18 PM
rating: 0
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Premium Article On the Beat: Checking ... (12/16)
<< Previous Column
Transaction Analysis: ... (12/15)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (12/19)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Future Shock: Pirates ... (12/16)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article My Model Portfolio: Framing Decisions Around...
Fantasy Article Dynasty Dynamics: TINO Does Arizona, 2015
Pebble Hunting: The Case For Shaming the Cub...
Every Team's Moneyball: Texas Rangers: Short...
Every Team's Moneyball: Atlanta Braves: Shor...
Prospectus Feature: All Spin Is Not Alike
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: The Most Important Player ...

MORE FROM DECEMBER 16, 2011
Premium Article Future Shock: Pirates Top 11 Prospects
Premium Article On the Beat: Checking in on Pinstriped Pitch...
Premium Article Collateral Damage: Rounding Up the Usual Sus...
Baseball ProGUESTus: The Men Behind the Men ...
Premium Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Second-Tier Japanes...
Premium Article The Keeper Reaper: First, Third, and DH for ...
Premium Article Fantasy Beat: All-Free Agent Team

MORE BY R.J. ANDERSON
2011-12-22 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Trading with the Enemy
2011-12-19 - Transaction Analysis: Rollins in the Deep
2011-12-19 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Santa Comes Early for ...
2011-12-16 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Cuddyer to Colorado
2011-12-14 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Melancon for Lowrie Sw...
2011-12-14 - Transaction Analysis: A Signing and Trade in...
2011-12-14 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Love Me Non-Tender
More...

MORE TRANSACTION ANALYSIS
2011-12-20 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Yu Got Questions? Yu G...
2011-12-19 - Transaction Analysis: Rollins in the Deep
2011-12-19 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Santa Comes Early for ...
2011-12-16 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Cuddyer to Colorado
2011-12-15 - Transaction Analysis: In with the New
2011-12-14 - Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Melancon for Lowrie Sw...
2011-12-14 - Transaction Analysis: A Signing and Trade in...
More...