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.