Rockies make Cuddyer signing official, add Blake

December 20, 2011 | 3:28 pm | 30  

The Colorado Rockies officially announced the signing of outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a three-year contract on Tuesday. Cuddyer, 32, spent his entire career with the Minnesota Twins before agreeing to the deal, reportedly worth $31.5 million.

Cuddyer will play right field, where he has played the most games in his career.

The Rockies also announced they had agreed to a one-year deal with third baseman Casey Blake pending a physical. Blake, 38, has been with the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2008 and hit .252 with four home runs and 26 RBI in 63 games in 2011. He should compete for the third base job and could help hold the spot for Nolan Arenado, one of the Rockies’ top prospects who will likely start the season in Double-A.

30 Comments »

  • rockymountainhigh | December 20, 2011 | 4:00 pm

    Isn’t it a minor league deal with invitation to spring training camp? My impression is that Blake will play 3B if Arenado implodes in ST. The third base job is Arenado’s to lose IMHO.

  • Julian | December 20, 2011 | 4:38 pm

    When is the last time that a player finished one season in A ball and started the next season as a major leaguer? I think that Arenado may get there by season’s end, but I doubt that he starts the year in the majors, including because the Rockies may want to delay his timetable by a year.

  • Greg Stanwood | December 20, 2011 | 5:02 pm

    rockymountainhigh,

    It is a non-guaranteed MLB contract.

  • Bill | December 20, 2011 | 5:09 pm

    I just heard an interview with Cuddyer on KOA. I’m even more impressed with him now. Think he’ll be another leader for the team. That should mean that they can either trade Smith for a starting pitcher or a good 2nd baseman or keep Smith as 4th and 5th outfielder and pinch-hitter deluxe and say goodbye to Giambi.

    I think Blake is a good sign. Takes some pressure off having to bring Arenado up so quickly. Also I like the signing of Nieves.

    Now, I still need to see a good proven starting pitcher. Would love to see Oswalt signed, a resigning of Kevin Millwood and perhaps a trade for someone.

  • Miketober | December 20, 2011 | 5:15 pm

    Blake has been a real Rockie killer in the past, so let’s hope he returns the favor. I guess I’m happy with this deal.

    Where does this leave Smith? If the OF is going to be Cargo-Dex-Cuddyer, and 3B is wrapped up, do the Rox still hope to deal him for 2B or SP, or do they bench him and hope for more Mr. Late Night magic? Will Cuddyer play 1B on Todd’s days off with Smith in LF?

  • Agbayani | December 20, 2011 | 5:17 pm

    Blake is 38 (39 in August), but he’s far and away the best 3B candidate we’ll have this spring. He’s been right around average at the plate and in the field in his last couple years. Assuming the injuries don’t catch up with him and he doesn’t fall off an age cliff, the upgrade from awful to a bit below average is a pretty big deal for an under-the-radar minor signing like this.

  • egossage | December 20, 2011 | 6:20 pm

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Arenado will not break camp with the Rockies next year. Guaranteed!!!

  • jaredean | December 20, 2011 | 6:42 pm

    here is a link to a radio interview he did on 104.3

    http://www.1043thefan.com/channels/thedrive/Story.aspx?ID=1629421

  • Mike Raysfan | December 20, 2011 | 6:44 pm

    I agree Ego. Just go back to comments from 2 weeks ago. The Rockies were in search of a “short term solution” for 3rd. Like Steve says above, Arenado will likely start the season in Double-A.

  • rockymountainhigh | December 20, 2011 | 8:12 pm

    Think Bryce Harper, Justin Upton, and even Everth Cabrerra. I don’t buy the bring them along slowly theory for hitters. Arenado proved that he has mastered the minor league pitchers. The only way to get better is to face major league pitching. Sorry if I’ve caught the Pooternitis virus with Arenado.

  • the postman | December 20, 2011 | 9:30 pm

    You are right RMH. Problem is the club likes it that way. To bring them along slowly and to make sure they can be successful at the level they are at. And then of course they don’t want to start their “clock” too soon either.

  • GARY | December 21, 2011 | 1:04 am

    Blake can also play 1st,I believe.

  • Agbayani | December 21, 2011 | 7:10 am

    Best case scenario: Blake gets 500 plate appearances and is pretty much league average at 3B, as he’s been in 2010-11 (98 OPS+, average defensively). Helton gets 500 plate appearances and puts up numbers similar to those he had last year (119 OPS+). Cuddyer starts 150 games and performs similarly to last year (121 OPS+). Ramon Hernandez starts 120 games at catcher and puts up similar numbers to last year (113 OPS+). Tulo and CarGo repeat their 2011 seasons. Someone — LeMahieu? – steps up to perform adequately, although still below league average, at 2B. Giambi and a couple other guys fill in capably from the bench. And someone — Fowler? — puts together a career or breakout season.

    That’s a really good offense.

    But it’s kind of a Giants 2010 scenario. You’re depending on some really old players (1) playing a lot, (2) playing at a level close to their career averages even though they range from 33 at the start of the season (Cuddyer) to 39 by August (Blake).

    Not even worst case, but very possible:

    Blake can only start 50 games as his back flares up. Arenado gets rushed in to fill the hold, or some replacement-level player fills in.

    Helton can only start 50 games for the same reason, and is 2009-level ineffective when he plays. Giambi plays some, providing occasional HRs and statue-esque defense at 1B. The rest of the playing time falls to a Brad Eldred replacement-level pick-up.

    Hernandez shows his age at catcher, starting 80 games and missing a lot with knee problems, or — you guessed it — a back injury. Wil Nieves or some other replacement-level player fills in, or Rosario gets rushed.

    We don’t get Prado or someone else to play 2B, and go with another sub-replacement-level combo.

    We trade Seth Smith (as we’er hell-bent on doing) and one of our other outfielders goes down for the season, meaning Charlie Blackmon gets rushed in, providing some flashes of talent but overall replacement-level performance.

    The offense in that scenario? Awful.

    I don’t like rolling the dice on old players, but at least now I see some kind of strategy — hope to get lucky with healthy/fountain of youth seasons from a few old guys (particularly Hernandez, Blake, Helton), hope that everyone else stays reasonably healthy (the bench will be incredibly weak), hope that De La Rosa and Nicasio can come back quickly, and hope that a couple young pitchers (out of Pomeranz/White/Chatwood/Friedrich) can emerge as solid starters and maybe we’ll surprise. If that doesn’t happen, we’ve got a lot of old guys departing after 2012 or 2013, so there’s no long-term commitment problems.

    I’m still puzzled by the “go old” movement, but there is some logic here. O’Dowd has to know it’s a longshot, and he has to know there’s a significant chance that it all ends horribly … forget bolstering the pitching staff. At this point the most important new addition will be Team Chiropractor.

  • miketober | December 21, 2011 | 7:37 am

    Ag, Ramon Hernandez won’t start 120 games. I think you forgot who our manager is.

  • Rich M | December 21, 2011 | 7:43 am

    With an kind of luck he will be gone before June!

  • Rich M | December 21, 2011 | 7:52 am

    Actually I think the stronger message here from DanO is that the 2011 Rockies were extremely young and without a whole lot of self decipline. Further there were not enough older profession team leaders demanding that the young players play the game the right way.

    Short hand for the fact that the young players refused to listen to Tracy and his coaches, while the veteran leadership wasn’t sufficient to enforce that individual player accountabillity!

    This is quickly becoming a complete team overhaul and for my money it was way past due as evidence by consecutive late season team collapses.

  • Agbayani | December 21, 2011 | 8:15 am

    miketober, you’re right about that.

    I forgot to mention Pacheco as the Blake insurance (while we await Arenado) at 3B. I guess that’s because I don’t see him as any kind of solution.

    The official story on Pacheco never made sense:

    - signed as a middle infielder
    - Rox player evaluation staff decided he lacked the quickness necessary to play 2B; moved to catcher
    - shows some promise at catcher; future appears to be as a new Jose Morales (converted middle infielder/backup catcher with good contact skills and little power)
    - has a very, very weak hitting season as a starting catcher in the extreme hitting environment of Colorado Springs
    - team suddenly decides he’s not adequate enough defensively to even be a backup catcher prospect; converted to corner infield positions, which demand much higher offensive output.

    As I said, that doesn’t make sense.

    Here’s what does:

    – mid-season 2011, O’Dowd and Team decide that Ian Stewart is a lost cause, and that Ty Wigginton was a big mistake.
    – but who to turn to? Chris Nelson? Really?
    – meanwhile, Rox staff sees enough from Arenado to believe he can stick at 3B, but they know he’s a couple years away
    – quick, find some warm body to stick at 3B so we don’t have to suffer through Wiggy anymore
    – hey, why not stick Pacheco there?

    I think Pacheco was well on his way to being that decent/useful backup catcher who could play other positions in a pinch. I don’t know why they felt the need to mess with that development. He has never shown the ability to hit enough to play a corner position. Let him catch again in spring, and let him hold that backup catcher job in 2012 — we know Hernandez can’t handle a huge workload behind the plate, and we don’t need to see Wil Nieves or Eliezer Alfonzo or a 38 year old Molina catching 80 games.

  • ian | December 21, 2011 | 9:27 am

    Is Blake any better than Kouzmanoff? Why were they so quick to cast off and not even consider?

    These moves don’t look like the moves of a guy who’s on the hot seat. You’d think if O’Dowd was worried about his job he’d come up with more impactful moves for this season.

    2012 is going to be a waste. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t trust O’Dowd or Tracy to do anything right.

  • Mike Raysfan | December 21, 2011 | 10:07 am

    Ag, as I’ve pointed out before there are conflicting stories regarding Pacheco. Bill Geivett and JT don’t seem to be on the same page. Recent comments from Mr. O’Dowd are more inline with Bill Geivett and not JT. I believe it’s JT that decided Pacehco wasn’t good enough to be a catcher not the team. The Bill Geivett piece was covered by Jack Etkin. The JT version was covered by the DP/Jim Armstrong.

    Mr. O’Dowd’s recent comments read along the lines that much time/effort has been put into converting Pacheco to catcher and they weren’t giving up on that anytime soon.

  • Julian | December 21, 2011 | 10:16 am

    Is Pacheco a good enough catcher defensively at this point to be a backup major league cather and catch 40 – 50 games? I’m not sure. Is he good enough to be a backup super utility guy who can be the backup 3B/1B/third string catcher? I think that he can play that role. If our backup catcher is a decent hitter and pinch hitter, then it frees that bat knowing that Pacheco can catch in a pinch. Otherwise, the backup catcher never gets to pinch hit.

    I think that Blake is a decent signing in that we get an average 3B on a one year contract without breaking the bank and we didn’t have to trade anybody to get him. Hopefully, we see Arenado by year’s end. We still have some tradeable chips to get a 2B or a SP.

  • rockymountainhigh | December 21, 2011 | 1:49 pm

    We will see Arenado Opening Day. I’ll take up on your bets. :-)

    I have always thought that when he traded away Wiggy, Jordan Pacheco became Wiggy’s replacement instantly. He will be the first man off the bench to replace the regular in the daily lineup whether it’s at 1B, 3B, or catcher. I see Pacheco starting 80 to 100 games in 2012.

  • Timo | December 21, 2011 | 3:14 pm

    Quick, unrelated question: have most of the regulars found another site where you will be posting? You guys have, by far, the most productive and non-threatening insight on any Rockies thread I’ve read to date.

  • progmatinee | December 21, 2011 | 4:57 pm

    not yet Timo.

  • egossage | December 21, 2011 | 6:34 pm

    I think jaredean is working on it

  • rockymountainhigh | December 22, 2011 | 3:35 pm

    I was reading over at the Colorado Rockies message board. There were a couple of Twins fan that came over and commented on Cuddy. All said almost with a guarantee that Cuddy is a 6-4-3 GIDP machine and very prone to striking out on breaking balls into the dirt in the other batters box (a.k.a. Barmes!)In general, they say he’s just an average player that the media loves for his approachability. One guy says he’s got a cannon arm for RF, but cannot play caroms off the fences well.

    As a Rockies fan, while Cuddy has been overpaid I hope he gives us consistency in RISP situations while giving us 140 or more starts. And hopefully he doesn’t talk as much as he did in Minnesota with the media. Fans get tired of that.

  • Rocky | December 28, 2011 | 3:31 pm

    Goodbye ITR, it was nice while it lasted. Gonna miss all of you. Is anyone going over to Purple Row, or Heaven and Helton etc…?

  • egossage | December 28, 2011 | 6:43 pm

    Rocky, we are making our own site so we can all stick together. It’s almost complete!!!

  • Rocky | December 29, 2011 | 12:50 pm

    Sounds great egossage. What is the new site called?

  • Wayne | December 29, 2011 | 12:52 pm

    Rocky, upper right hand corner under Whaddya Think and click on NEW SITE LINK

  • Rocky | December 29, 2011 | 2:19 pm

    Thanks Wayne.