Evaluating the Talent: Michael Cuddyer
So let’s talk about what this most recent member of the Rockies can do. His talent level has been turned inside out and dissected by just about every baseball writer on the planet in the past week, including me, and I don’t quite know what else can be said. However, I do know that he will certainly be a member of our team in 2012, and hopefully an important one, so it’s worth thinking about exactly what kind of role he’ll play.
Michael Cuddyer will likely find himself hitting in the 5-hole, providing offensive protection for Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. He has a lot of experience doing this for Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer in Minnesota, and he also frequently hit clean-up. He has the requisite power potential for someone in those spots, with a career slugging percentage of .451. He hit a career-high 32 home runs in 2009 and, as has been repeatedly mentioned, Coors Field will likely help better those numbers. As much as we all love Todd Helton, and we do, he is not going to be able to play a full season, so having someone who can consistently hit in the middle of the lineup to take his place is important. Helton can hit 6th on days he’s feeling good, and that gives the Rockies a very formidable heart of the order.
Where does Cuddyer fit defensively? As Rockies Review’s David Martin astutely observed, Dan O’Dowd and Jim Tracy have a bit of a love affair with utility guys. They want just about everybody on the field to be interchangeable, and that does mess up a player’s rhythm after a while. So I hope they can find a regular spot for Cuddyer. It sounds like Carlos Gonzalez is being moved back to left field from right, and Cuddy can play right field just fine (lifetime .985 fielding percentage there). What I hope doesn’t happen is he’s shuffled from right to third to first, and there’s a real danger of that. Helton can’t play every game, so Cuddy could potentially find himself dancing the Jim Tracy Shuffle.
In any event, we didn’t really take him for his defense. Hopefully it won’t wind up being a liability, but it’s really what his bat can do that makes me believe he can contribute.
Where should Cuddyer be in 2012? Colorado.
Where will Cuddyer be in 2012? Colorado.