If I was Michael Cuddyer

I can’t help but wonder what is going on with Michael Cuddyer. The winter meetings have wrapped up and the Twins still sit back and wait for a decision from Michael Cuddyer. Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire have made it pretty clear that they are chasing Cuddyer but apparently Cuddyer does not want to be caught. Yes, I know that his wife had twins earlier this week but are you telling me that they have not sat down and discussed a possible signing scenario before now?The numbers that are floating around that the Twins have supposedly offered the Twins former right-fielder are 3 years for $24 or $25 million. So I will put myself in Michael’s shoes and tell you what I may be thinking.

I have been in the Twins organization since 1998 and in the big leagues with the Twins since 2001. I will be 33 years old before the 2012 season kicks off and this just might be my last chance to sign a multi-year deal for significant dollars. Last year I made $10.5 million, $9.4 million in 2010, and $7.6 million in 2009. Between 2004 and 2011 (excluding my injury plagued year in 2008 when I only played in 71 games) I have averaged 141 games per year playing all over the field except catcher and shortstop and in 2011 I was the only Twins player selected to participate in the 2011 All-Star game. My wife and I work our butts off for the Twins Community Fund, I give up lots of my own personal time to interact with the fans, I never turn down an autograph request  and I see myself as a leader in the Twins clubhouse. My team sucked in 2011 and a number of players were hurt but some of them didn’t work all that hard to get back on the field, others just plain quit playing and some of the youngsters the Twins brought up had no business being in the big leagues yet. I play hurt because I know that the team needs my right-handed bat in the line-up and because I want to win. The Twins lost 99 games and changes need to happen, I understand that and I am all for it. I know we had a payroll of $113 million last year and we almost became the second team in history to lose 100 games with a $100+ million payroll and now management expects revenue to drop in 2012 so payroll has to drop accordingly, I get that too. What I have a problem with is why I should I take a pay cut for a team that lost 99 games when I was out there day in and day out working my butt off. Why should I have to take a pay cut from $27.5 million the last three years to $25 million? At this stage of my career I want a ring, what are my chances of getting a ring in Minnesota in the next two or three years? I have to think they might be better somewhere else. At first, I thought that Philly was a nice landing spot but it appears that has fallen through but now I am hearing that the Rockies might come across with a 3 year deal that could trump Minnesota’s offer and hitting in Colorado might be fun, but can they win a ring for me? We love Minnesota and we are comfortable living and playing there but damn, I feel like the Twins and the Twins fans just don’t appreciate what I have done here. To many it is all about dollars and cents but I am a human being and I should be valued for what I have brought to the table. I always knew that baseball was a business, but it is a hard and cruel business at times. Albert Pujols just signed a huge $250 million 10-year deal and he will be 32 in a couple of weeks. Is Pujols being paid this princely sum for what he will do or what he did in the past? I know, I know, I am no Albert Pujols but the comparison is he same, should I be paid for what I have done for the Twins in the past or what I will do in the future? I would hope a little of both but right now I am not feeling the Twins love so let’s just hold on for a while and see what else shakes out. Maybe it is time for me to see if the Twins have as much flexibility as I have shown them in the past.

For many of us fans and bloggers it is all about wins, we tend to forget that the players are real people with real families and real problems of their own. We tend to think of them as an inanimate object that we can discard if we find something better. We pull a dollar figure out of out butts and we say that player X is worth X amount of dollars but then again we don’t have to pull out our own wallets and turn over cold hard cash to pay the player salaries. We sometimes get too enamoured with players we see less frequently and we see all the warts on the home town players just because we see them day in and day out.

Cuddyer was originally drafted as a shortstop by the Twins in the first round (ninth over all) of the June 1997 amateur draft and signed with the Twins shortly there after. Cuddyer worked his way up the minor league chain and made his big league debut with the Twins on September 23, 2001 as the DH at the Metrodome. Cuddyer has been with the Twins for 11 seasons now and has been a fixture in right field playing 670 games there but he has also played 210 games at 1B and 171 games at 3B not to mention 79 games at 2B and his lone relief appearance on the mound in 2011. The only positions Cuddy has not played is catcher and ironically shortstop, the position that he was drafted to play back in 1997. Although Cuddyer may not be a superstar, he has been a very valuable part of the Twins organization for a long time. When I think of Michael Cuddyer, I see him as a true professional, he does what ever it takes to win and he represents the Minnesota Twins as well as anyone ever has and that includes Harmon Killebrew. Cuddyer and his wife are also very active in the community and the Twins Community Fund. I have seen Cuddyer interact with baseball fans during spring training and no one does a better job at that than Michael does and he talks with everyone. The Twins organization and Twins fans will miss Michael Cuddyer if he choses to sign elsewhere, I know I will, but then again the money to pay Cuddy does not come out of my pocket.

UPDATE as of December 16 – The Colorado Rockies have agreed to sign Michael Cuddyer to a three-year, $31.5 million deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com

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