Monday, November 9, 2009

Did the Twins Make a Mistake by Picking Up Michael Cuddyer's Option?

$10.5 million for Michael Cuddyer in 2011! Rob Neyer is not a fan:
"Cuddyer is a good hitter but a subpar outfielder, resulting in a player who is, at his best, worth less than $10 million. Granted, considering the $1 million buyout, the Twins essentially have committed to spending $9.5 million on Cuddyer in 2011. And $9.5 million isn't much more than what he was worth this year, and in 2007 (2008 was a disaster).

Of course the problem is that Cuddyer has entered his decline phase. He'll turn 31 next spring and (more to the point) 32 in 2011. He might be just as good in 2011 as he was in 2009 ... but we know that he probably won't be. We know that instead of being a (roughly) $9 million player, as he was this year, he's more likely to be an $8 million player or a $7 million player.

No, the difference between Cuddyer's salary and his value is not a great deal of money. But the Twins have a history of overspending on decent players while complaining about the high price of truly great players. Remember, it was just a year ago that they couldn't afford Johan Santana but quite happily blew $9 million on Craig Monroe and Livan Hernandez. And if they're not able to keep Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer in the long term, their money mismanagement is simply going to drop them from contention."
I dunno if I would call this money mismanagement. Sure $10.5 million might be slightly excessive for Michael Cuddyer, but I don't mind this move at all for the Twins. As long as their payroll jumps as expected into the $80-$90 million dollar range, then spending $10.5 million on Michael Cuddyer is not a horrible move. If the Twins' payroll was closer to $60 million, then I would completely understand Neyer's frustration with the Twins, but these are different times for the Twins. Instead of operating like a small market franchise, the Twins should (and hopefully will) have a more aggressive approach and take advantage of their new resources.

What I find strange about Neyer's response is his last sentence about the futures of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. The Twins actually do have Justin Morneau locked up long term-he is signed through 2013-a move that was praised throughout baseball. And even though Joe Mauer is a free agent to be after the 2010 season, the odds are high that he will remain with the Twins and it should be taken as a good sign that the Twins want to surround Mauer with quality talent. Hopefully with their new resources, the Twins will not have a problem locking up Joe Mauer to a long term contract similar to the one that Justin Morneau signed a few years back.

And finally, I'd to see any evidence that Neyer has that Cuddyer is currently on the decline. I understand that as players get older, they generally decline, but Cuddyer's numbers this season do not present any evidence that he will decline in the near future. Picking up Cuddyer's option is a good risk for the Twins to take and if you need any evidence of that, just look at Cuddyer's stats in 2007 and 2009.


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Bill said...

I totally agree. This was not one of Neyer's better efforts. It's like he decided that it was a bad move and then went around trying to come up with facts to support that.

Yeah, they probably paid a million a year or so more than Cuddyer is "worth" on the open market. But in reality, you can't always get what you need on the open market (especially if you're the Twins), and if it makes it more likely that Mauer will want to stay around, that's definitely worth a million or so.

Jorge Says No! said...

And Bill, Cuddyer is coming off the best year of his career. Neyer talks all about decline, but that seems to be a ways away for Cuddyer.