Sorry Spilly lovers – your boy is officially a free agent. The Rockies had until last night to tender him a contract, and they chose not to. That doesn’t mean he won’t re-sign with the team before the 2012 season, but the front office is aggressively moving in on a couple guys who could replace Ryan Spilborghs both defensively and at the plate. If they get any of them, it’s over for him. It’s long been rumored that the Phillies are interested, and why wouldn’t they be? Spilly the Philly has an almost too-good-to-be-true ring to it. They can snatch him up for cheap, as could just about anybody else.
As for whom the Rockies are looking at, the names getting the most play are Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Beltran. Of the two, Beltran is a better offensive producer, and he boasts a 67.1 WAR over 14 seasons. That in itself makes him well beyond what we have gotten or ever will get from Spilly. And the Rockies probably have the cash for a short-term contract, considering the payroll space they’ve cleared over the past couple of weeks. I have some fears about Beltran, though. First, he’s a switch-hitter. Since Jim Tracy loves match-ups so much, that likely makes him the starting left fielder in every game. Which leaves no room for Seth Smith. Charlie Blackmon can take Beltran’s place when he needs a rest. I’ve been adamantly opposed to letting Smith go from day one, but if we sign Beltran, what choice do we have? Then there’s Beltran’s health. A 2010 knee surgery left him a much more injury-prone player than he once was. If the Rockies sign him and he winds up riding the disabled list for three months, that’s going to be a huge loss.
Cuddyer is slightly less productive, but he’s also healthier, and he bats from the right side. Those two things make me slightly favor him. I hate to say it, but I’d actually rather have either of these guys than have Spilly back. I know, I know, that’s the opposite of my usual stance on homegrown players. And I adore Spilly, I do, but the Rockies are not going anywhere with the lineup they currently have. Cargo and Tulo can’t do it on their own. So I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to get another bat that might relieve some of the offensive pressure. That’s all.
If the Rockies are going to get Beltran or Cuddyer, it will happen this week. The plot thickens.