On Michael Cuddyer’s future with the Rockies

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The Rockies decided to ante up $31.5 million for Michael Cuddyer’s age 33-35 seasons on Friday, so I thought it’d be fun to look at what some similarly productive players have done in those years.

Cuddyer had a 117+ OPS from 2009-11, his age 30-32 seasons. Since 1995, there have been 10 other corner outfielders with an OPS in the 115-120 range and at least 1,000 plate appearances from ages 30-32. Here they are, along with their OPS+s for ages 30-35, with 33-35 in bold.

Dante Bichette: 111, 129, 112, 103, 108, 102 (104 from 33-35)
Ron Gant: 145, 125, 83, 114, 96, 106 (104 from 33-35)
Geronimo Berroa: 116, 117, 120, 62, 56, 74 (62 from 33-35)
Matt Stairs: 131, 132, 92, 115, 118, 142 (125 from 33-35)
Tim Salmon: 119, 135, 98, 133, 122, 67 (118 from 33-35)
Rusty Greer: 124, 110, 104, 91, –, — (91 at 33)
Kevin Millar: 131, 110, 117, 98, 111, 106 (105 from 33-35)
Ichiro Suzuki: 130, 113, 106, 122, 102, 129 (117 from 33-35)
David Dellucci: 96, 126, 123, 68, 136, 40 (80 from 33-35)
Milton Bradley: 161, 100, 80, 91, –, — (91 at 33 in 2011)

So, this isn’t really a list of similar talents, but it does illustrate what tends to happen to above average regulars as they start to get into their mid-30s. Occasionally you’ll get a Stairs, but the players here most similar to Cuddyer — Bichette, Gant and Millar — all turned into borderline regulars at 33-34.

And that’s the big problem with the Rockies’ signing. It’s arguable whether Cuddyer was even worth $31.5 million from age 30-32, and he was a far better bet for those three seasons than he is for these next three.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?