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Still say “no” to seven years, $134 million of Tulo

Even though the schedule says a week of games remain, the 2013 season is effectively over for the Colorado Rockies and has been for weeks. Perhaps as a result, the team’s beat writer from the Denver Post, Troy Renck, is getting a head start on the hot stove season, which does not traditionally heat up until November.

In his Sunday article, Renck discusses the possibility of the last-place Rockies trading one of their two stars, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, during the upcoming off-season.

The writer delivers a mixed message. In several places, he acknowledges the unrealistic nature of the entire subject, noting there is “an extremely slim possibility that (even) one will be dealt” and again that “most likely neither” will be traded.

Still, Renck goes into great detail, rehashing last winter’s arguments as to why the St. Louis Cardinals would be a great fit for the oft-injured Tulo and the mega-$134 million still due over the seven years remaining on his contract. The writer urges the Rockies to listen when he expects the Cards to come calling.

Some anxious Cardinals fans, even more riled up by the paltry production from the shortstop position this season, have ignored Renck’s cautions and are tweeting their re-fixation on the idea of Tulo wearing the Birds on the Bat.

One poster on The Cardinal Nation message board summed up the feelings of many when he wrote this:

“… The knock on Tulo is that he is brittle, but if the club could get 130 games out of him, then he would be worth the risk.”

Unfortunately, that is a huge “if,” not just for 2014, but each year through 2020.

Here is the unpleasant truth. In the last four years, Tulo has been able to answer the bell for 130 games or more just once, and these have been during his prime age 20’s years.

Renck points out that the shortstop’s legs, the source of some of his prior problems, held up this season. Tulo’s time out in 2013 was due to a “fluky broken rib.”

OK, but that does not change the fact that for whatever injury-related reasons, Tulowitzki has missed roughly one of every four of his team’s games since the Rockies’ last playoff appearance in 2009.

Why does anyone think the Cardinals medical staff could rejuvenate Tulo or at least find a way to keep him on the field more often than that as he moves into the latter part of his career? His contract runs seven more years, through 2020, at which time he will be on the verge of celebrating his 36th birthday.

Cardinals fans so anxious to be rid of incumbent shortstop Pete Kozma that they are willing to overlook all of the danger signs with Tulowitzki should be more careful what they ask for.

Remember that St. Louis dodged a major financial albatross when Albert Pujols bonded with Arte Moreno in Anaheim. Instead, Tulo would become the highest-paid Cardinal at $20 million per year as he moves into his 30s for the five middle seasons of his remaining deal starting in 2015.

Sure, the Cardinals have a number of very interesting trade chips, but they should be used wisely. The club should avoid taking on a risky contract like Tulo’s in favor of a younger, more durable and more reasonably-priced alternative at the position.

Give the organization time to be more creative in solving the shortstop problem rather than to simply throw prospects and money at it and hope for good player health despite the warning signals.

Footnote: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal throws more cold water on the “rumor.” He reports that the Rockies do not have much interest in trading either CarGo or Tulo, but if they did decide to make a move, it would be Gonzalez who would be more likely to go.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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28 Responses to “Still say “no” to seven years, $134 million of Tulo”

  1. Bw52 says:

    No way Tulo.Why not see what it would take to get Evert Cabrera the All-star SS from the SD bunch.He is Arb eligible for the 2nd time and he has very good speed and good glove.At least worth talking to the Pads.

    • Brian Walton says:

      I wonder if players can be traded while on suspension? 😉

      • crdswmn says:

        Do you think DeWitt, with all of his emphasis on character, would sign an admitted PED user? I would like to think not.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Well, it is a lot more murky area than it used to be. I don’t know if Ryan Franklin admitted it, but he was suspended for it while with Seattle. Then, there was the former hitting coach, etc…

          • crdswmn says:

            Yeah, but there is a difference between a hitting coach and a player.

            With all the negativeness involved in the Biogenesis thing, I can’t see DeWitt taking on one of those guys.

            • Brian Walton says:

              Franklin was a player, wasn’t he? They hired him again after he retired. The Cards also signed J.C. Romero after he was suspended. I imagine there were others.

              I agree the Biogenesis thing is fresher, but that is the only difference I can see. So it is ok to wait until it cools down?

              • crdswmn says:

                I don’t know, because I am not making a judgment for myself, I am just speculating about what Bill DeWitt thinks.

                They have this whole “Cardinal Way”, players of high character thing going. Maybe DeWitt didn’t feel as strongly about it back when they signed Franklin, or maybe he thought the circumstances were different, I don’t know.

                Now, if you want to know my opinion, I wouldn’t sign an admitted PED user. The only way to stop the PED thing is to make it hurt a lot worse than it already does for players who use.

                • Brian Walton says:

                  The Cardinals have a half-dozen minor leaguers in their system right now who are either on suspension or have been previously. Should they release all of them?

                  Do you really think that any of the 30 teams have no PED users?

                  I am not defending the users, but your position seems unrealistic in today’s world.

                  • crdswmn says:

                    Maybe it is, but there are a lot of unrealistic things in today’s world, because today’s world sucks beyond measure. I refuse to have my standards dragged down by that fact.

                    That is my Idealist Rant of the day.

                    As for minor leaguers, they are young and inexperienced and I would hope that they learn a lesson and not repeat their mistakes. When you do that in the big leagues, you no longer have an excuse in my book.

                    I’m with Matt Holliday—break the rules, get the book thrown at you. I’m tired of excuses for bad behavior because “That’s just the way things are”.

  2. Bw52 says:

    Jesse Crain has been injured with a shoulder problem and has been unable to pitch since July 29th.He was acquired by Tampa Bay and has been unable to get thru rehab.Going to try 20 pitches this weekend to see if he can throw.TB is still going to carry him on their roster just in case.A big RED Flag just went up on Crain.

  3. blingboy says:

    Mo will probably try to come up with the next Furcal. Post-peak, coming off a bad year, give up a non-top 40 prospect, get the other team to eat some salary. Hope for the best.

  4. crdswmn says:

    Boy, the Denver Post is really good at rumormongering. Troy Renck should get an award for snowing the most gullible people. The whole Tulo thing is on a roll again.

    Apparently Jim Bowden (like he knows squat) said on 101 ESPN that the Cardinals were going to go after a “really good” SS in the winter and that SS was likely Tulo. Ugh. Why can’t people see that paying out of the nose for that walking disaster movie is a REALLY bad idea?

    • Brian Walton says:

      If anyone calls Renck on it, all he has to say is, “I said twice that this has almost no chance of happening. It is everyone else’s problem for blowing it out of proportion. All I did was write a big Sunday column about it.” 😉

      The fact is that so many people shut off their common sense meter (if they have one at all) when the subject of rumors come up. What surprised me the most is the timing of this one, but then again, the off-season in Colorado began weeks ago. Two straight years of last place indicate a need for some kind of “Plan B.”

      I imagine Bowden reads the same beat writers that we do.

      • crdswmn says:

        I was lurking over at VEB, which is where I heard about what Bowden said on the radio. The folks at VEB are all over it. I don’t get why a bunch of folks who know so much about sabermetrics can be so NOT smart about everything else. I love the sabermetric discussions over there (which is why I lurk) but I wouldn’t want any one of those folks to be the GM of my team.

        • Brian Walton says:

          As one of my old bosses was very fond of saying, “I love spending OPM*!”

          * Other Peoples’ Money

          P.S. I don’t have the time to go to other Cards sites often anymore, but no matter the site, there is risk of group think. The stronger personalities with similar views band together and discourage others with different points of view from speaking up. I don’t know if it is the case there, but I have seen it happen elsewhere.

          • crdswmn says:

            Don’t you know that they buy tickets and merchandise and support this team, so it’s THEIR money?

          • crdswmn says:

            Oh there is definitely group think at VEB. And they are not particularly welcoming to differing points of view either. I just lurk, never post. Somehow I think my POV would not be welcome there.

          • blingboy says:

            Brian, you pegged VEB exactly.

            • Brian Walton says:

              Not my intent to pass judgment about a place I don’t even visit. I saw it first-hand on my own board. It is only natural for like-minded people to congregate. After all, Cardinals fandom is the most common of denominators. The key I have found is to try to avoid an environment where anything goes while not being draconian about it. Make everyone with reasonable points of view feel welcome. Sounds easy enough but hard to do in reality.

              • blingboy says:

                Well, you don’t have that problem much now, either here or on the main site’s board, although you do have to step in once in awhile. I often take up a contrary or dissenting position, sometimes out of conviction and sometimes to encourage defense of the other position so as to help me make up my own mind. And having to defend my position often causes me to re-work it. I have tried that approach at VEB and it absolutly doesn’t work. On TCN board I get raked pretty good sometimes, but have never felt like I was being run off by the other participants.

  5. CariocaCardinal says:

    I dont think you have to make the assumption that the Cards would pay full freight on Tulo’s contract. There is undoubtedly some combination of salary and prospects that could make it a good trade for both teams.

    • Brian Walton says:

      There are plenty of examples of teams paying gobs of salary to dump aging stars near the end of the line. Do you have any comps for a mid-career star like Tulo?

      Remember this is not the Yankees or Red Sox paying to make a mistake go away. Even with Tulo, the Rockies are 25th in payroll in MLB. I doubt they would pay a lot.

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        I don’t think the idea of the Yankees or Red Sox eating salary makes sense. I have done no research but I picture those types of teams more as buyers of the mistakes of others than eating salary. I’d bet overall, it is poorer teams that eat more salary in dumps though the correlation probably is greatest with regards to a team’s record than it’s salary structure.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Well, here are a few of the guys Theo signed in Boston they got rid of long before these long-term contracts completed:

          Renteria $40M
          Lugo $36M
          Crawford $142M
          Beckett $68M
          Adrian Gonzalez $154M

          That does not count other bad deals like Dice-K $103M and Drew $70M that they just rode out.

          The Yankees don’t have as many, but they’ve had them too. In fact, they’d surely just give A-Rod away this minute if someone would take his contract.

    • blingboy says:

      Its a good point.

      I would expand on it by saying that Colorado extended Tulo during the winter after the 2010 season, paying him $20M thru his age 35 season and a sizeable $4M bouyout for his age 35 season.

      It is clearly a PED era contract made under PED era assumptions about player productivity.

      Colorado cannot reasonably expect anyone to take a bloated PED era contract off their hands. They will have to take it on the chin, the same as some other teams have and will. This factor will reduce the haul in prospects that they can expect to get. In other words, they are going to have to eat money one way or another, even if they keep him and are paying a mid 30s player $20M a year.

      I don’t really think we need a premium SS, but given our wealth of prospects, and the new post PED realities as to the value of a players 29-35 seasons, a deal may be more possible than many people think.

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