Sunday, August 7, 2011

Nothing Can Come of Nothing -- Cuddyer Contract

I'm mad. And hurt. And distraught.

This emotional outpouring has nothing to do with the recent lousy play of the Twins, although I've done my fair share of ranting lately. I've swore so much at my television over the past several days, I fully expect it to send me a bill to reimburse it for all the psychotherapy it needs. But, despite my numerous R-rated rantings, I'm really only frustrated. This isn't our year and it sucks, but I'm not terribly upset about it.

No, instead, I'm boiling at Bill Smith. He simply hasn't put together a good team, and has done very little to repair that fact. And I fear he'll mess it up for 2012. I'm specifically upset about how he's handling Michael Cuddyer. Or, should I say "mis-handling"?

Now, I'm not usually one to criticize Smith, but the realization that the real franchise player might not come back next year is beginning to set in (no, folks, I'm sorry to say that Joe Mauer is not the franchise player). In fact, this article from the PiPress that says the Cuddy is "committed to test the free agent market" feels like a Cuddyer-thrown baseball to the chest. True, the organization recently offered him an extension that he doesn't want to consider right now.

I'm not mad at Cuddyer for being interested in free agency. He's having an outstanding year, and I'm sure there will be plenty of teams taking turns to talk to him. This will likely be his last multi-year contract for significant money. At 32, the all-star's value is at its highest right now, but I have doubts the Twins will, or even can, give him what he deserves.

It is promising that Smith made an in-season offer to Cuddyer; the team doesn't usually worry about contract stuff during the summer. They say that doing so shows that they're committed to re-signing him. But the offer was kind of like a weather balloon -- intended only to gather information and not really do anything more than that.

Cuddyer's value to the team is unmatched. He's obviously quite versatile in the field, but he's also the player-leader in the clubhouse. He's good to the press, the community, and the fans. His team-first attitude is an excellent model for everyone around him. The Twins would be less without him.

So here I am, reading articles and getting worried and then mad, and all this could have been avoided if Smith would've just extended Cuddyer's contract last off-season. The organization has always expressed its high regard for Cuddyer, but the decision to wait probably cost the Twins a lot. When this season is over, he'll be the star, and the Twins will be just one of many autograph hounds trying to get his attention.

Cuddy says he's not mad that the Twins didn't call with an offer last off-season -- he's not going to say anything different. But I have to wonder if he doesn't feel slightly snubbed. So, another team is going to swoop in, offer him a ridiculous contract that the Twins won't be able to match, and he'll be gone.

A reasonable offer last December could've prevented all this, and I'm mad that didn't happen. Inaction then will lead to regrets later.

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