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Report: Phillies “in serious pursuit” of Michael Cuddyer

Nov 5, 2011, 8:56 AM EDT

Minnesota Twins v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Getty Images

The Phillies have already agreed to a one-year contract with veteran slugger Jim Thome, but they are also moving aggressively on another one of their offseason targets.

According to Jim Salisbury of, the Phillies are “in serious pursuit” of free agent Michael Cuddyer.

Cuddyer, who turns 33 in March, batted .284/.346/.459 with 20 homers, 70 RBI, 11 stolen bases and an .805 OPS over 584 plate appearances this season while making starts at first base, second and in right field. Ryan Howard is at risk of missing the start of the season following surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles, so the versatile veteran would seem to be an ideal fit.

Salisbury notes that the Type A free agent is being pursued “by a number of teams,” which comes as no big surprise. It doesn’t sound like there’s anything imminent, but if the Phillies are able to strike quickly, that could mean Cuddyer either really wants to come to Philadelphia or he is being made an offer that can’t be topped elsewhere.

  1. Ari Collins - Nov 5, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    Cuddyer’s a perfect example of a great media mistake, where “poor at every defensive position” becomes “versatile”.

    • Bryz - Nov 5, 2011 at 9:26 AM

      Yep. Funny how some players are bad at certain positions and never get that tag, yet Cuddyer is bad at every position but did get the “versatile” tag. I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the contribution was his willingness to move around the infield – as if “versatile” means “Doesn’t give a crap where he plays.”

    • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 5, 2011 at 9:41 AM

      I hear what you are saying. His poor defensive play is not in dispute. However, the Phillies need somebody who is at least capable of moving around to a variety of positions. Would give them some options. That being said, I’m not sure how I would feel about this signing. I guess it would depend on the amount of money and years. Also, if it would hamstring them from going after others.

      • cowboysoldiertx - Nov 5, 2011 at 12:26 PM

        I would be ok with this signing. But only at 3/24ish. His bat will play well but he sucks on defence and is 33.

    • D.J. Short - Nov 5, 2011 at 9:47 AM

      That’s definitely fair, though Cuddyer would probably be an improvement over Ryan Howard at first base.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 5, 2011 at 9:54 AM

        No, you are wrong there. Howard gets a bad rap for his first base defense, but he has managed to make himself a very mediocre defender. Cuddyer is just poor defensively no matter where he plays. I was looking at the numbers earlier and can’t remember them exactly, but Howard was around a -2.9 UZR/150 for his career while Cuddyer was around a -11 UZR/150 for his career at first.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 5, 2011 at 9:57 AM

        Could be.

      • Ari Collins - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:00 AM

        They’re pretty close, army.Howard’s a -3 indeed, but Cuddyer’s a -6 UZR/150 at 1B for his career.

        Be curious to hear some scouting reports.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:02 AM

        Yeah, you are right Ari…a -6 UZR/150 for 1B indeed. I must have misremembered.

      • Bill - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:52 AM

        I don’t think there’s really enough data there to trust the UZR numbers, but Cuddyer has looked horrible out there to me. But (a) the perception probably suffers from direct comparison to Morneau, who’s phenomenal, and (b) he’s a pretty athletic and smart guy, who has never really been “groomed” for first base, so it wouldn’t surprise me if a hard-working offseason and Spring Training shaped him into a better defensive 1B than Howard.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:55 AM

        Fair enough Bill.

      • paperlions - Nov 5, 2011 at 11:42 AM

        UZR seems to struggle with some positions as well as with wonky park dimensions for OFers….1B is a position it seems to struggle to measure well….for example, Carlos Lee is a horrible defender, his UZR/150 this year was a spectacular 11.2, including 5.5 at 1B and 18.1 in LF (the Juice Box having an short LF porch), Lee had a -20.7UZR/150 for LF last year.

        I think Howard has declined quite a bit without UZR seeming to notice, his assists (balls he fields far enough from 1B that require him to make a throw to record an out as well as double plays/force outs at 2B) since 2006 have been 91, 103, 101, 95, 59, 70….that is a lot of outs he isn’t getting that he used to…..based on the Put Outs he records, he doesn’t seem that the Philly pitchers are inducing fewer GBs, and the trends don’t even coincide with changes in the number of lefties pitching (who may face fewer lefties, resulting in fewer GBs to 1B).

  2. saturn1111 - Nov 5, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    The phils need to get younger. Stopgaps like Thome and 33 yr olds like Cuddyer won’t do in October.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 5, 2011 at 9:57 AM

      It is easy to say things like get younger but look at the free agent market this season. There are not many if any under 30’s available. So, get younger essentially means either trade for a younger player or bring up younger players from the farm system. Unfortunately, the Phillies don’t seem to have many young position players ready to make the leap.

    • Ari Collins - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:01 AM

      Actually, stopgaps are great for October. It’s years going forward that having a young player would help.

      • paperlions - Nov 5, 2011 at 11:50 AM

        The problem is when the stop gaps are signed for too many dollars and years, like Ibanez and Polanco. Philly fans defended those signings at the time, while many criticized them for being for too many years…that doesn’t seem to be the case this time around.

        I loved the Thome signing, 1 yr for cheap. Perfect.

        If they sign Cuddyer for 2 yrs, his age 33 and 34 seasons…that’ll probably be a good deal for them and fit their needs…3 yrs will be pushing it, 4 yrs will probably be a huge mistake.

    • dbick - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:09 AM

      by getting younger they meant getting younger than Raul Ibanez.

      • CJ - Nov 5, 2011 at 1:36 PM

        …and Jamie Moyer

  3. durno99 - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    Do you guys know what you are talking about? I am a Twins fan and he is a stud! Can play anywhere and has a cannon for an arm! The Twins need him and you should be excited your Team wants him. To say he is a poor defensive player is ignorant.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:16 AM

      Or to say he is a poor defensive player is to be cognizant of the data complied on his defensive career and how it rates against others. What is ignorant is calling others ignorant while providing nothing to back up your claim that he isn’t poor defensively other than your own perception.

    • Bryz - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:27 AM

      From a Twins fan to another Twins fan, trust me, his arm does not make up for his lack of range.

    • Bill - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:56 AM

      From yet another Twins fan: even his arm is overrated. I think UZR does overstate to some extent the damage that Cuddyer does in the field…but he very much is a poor defensive player.

  4. dirtyharry1971 - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    First Thome and now this guy? This fixes the offense how exactly? hahahaha i love it, i hope they make a slew of stupid moves over the winter

    • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:26 AM

      Yeah, signing Thome for 1.25 million to play a few games at first and to be a left handed bat off the bench was a stupid move….seriously?

      • sgm405 - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:50 AM

        Thome is 41 years old, has chronic back problems, and hasn’t played the field since 2007, when he played 1 game. He hasn’t regularly played the field since 2005, when he played 52 games for Philadelphia. Six years since he played the field regularly, four years since he played it at all, but now he’s going to play 1B for the Phillies…seriously?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:54 AM

        Who says he is going to play 1B consistently for the Phillies? I think he will play a handful of games there…maybe 1-2 a week until Howard is ready to return. Primarily he will provide a left handed bat off the bench. I fail to see at 1.25 million how it is a bad move. Clear upgrade from Ross Gload who had a similar role last season at 1.6 million.

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:54 AM

        Thome is probably going to be nothing more than a pinch hitter. I’m guessing Mayberry is on first, and the Phills would like Cuddyer in LF.

    • aceshigh11 - Nov 5, 2011 at 11:44 AM

      We can certainly count on you making a slew of stupid posts this winter, Slingblade.

  5. Jonny 5 - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Which is acceptable for the Phillies imo. Cuddyer, what he lacks in defense he makes up for with his bat. With a very good pitching staff, I see this as win/ win for the Phillies. We’ve seen teams with good to great pitching staffs succeed with below average defenders. The Phillies are as of now an above average defense and can probably afford the drop in defense. That is if they keep Jimmy at SS. I do think Polanco, post surgery has a good chance of being better than Cuddyer, or as good offensively in 2012, So I wouldn’t swap him out there. I also see him as an upgrade to Ibanez in LF, that’s where he ends up imo. Does this mean they have many more plans up their sleeves? I think yes. I don’t think they sign Thome to just be a pinch hitter since Mayberry has proven he can play 1st and the OF very well. I’m confused frankly with this pursuit to be honest. They must be planning to trade someone or let Jimmy walk. Yikes.

    • Jonny 5 - Nov 5, 2011 at 10:57 AM

      * I “do” think they signed Thome to just be a pinch hitter.* No edit function…..

      Ross Gload is finished with philly imo. Orr will help on 1st if need be.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 5, 2011 at 11:05 AM

        Utley can also play first base. The sample size is small but he has shown in the past to be competent at the position.

    • paperlions - Nov 5, 2011 at 11:58 AM

      I agree that Philly was above average defensively last year. I like using BABIP of a teams pitching staff as a measure for how good the defense was at turning balls in play into outs….last year Philly was 10th in all of MLB, and that was with Ibanez in left….anyone will be an upgrade over Ibanez defensively, whoever they stick at 1st (except Thome) will probably be at least as good as Howard…their defense should be fine next year (assuming Bicepts doesn’t get his wish and they keep their best defensive player).

  6. flyerscup2010 - Nov 5, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    Bryz, does his harm + playing next to Victorino make up for his lack of range?

    • drmonkeyarmy - Nov 5, 2011 at 12:04 PM

      No, but the Phillies are obviously use to having guys in LF who have horrible range so I don’t think it would be much different than we have seen for years upon years.

  7. flyerscup2010 - Nov 5, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    anyway, dirtyharry1971 is hating for the sake of hating. jim thome isnt a stupid move by any stretch of the imagination. hes primarily a bench guy who signed pretty cheap relative to that role and the amount of years he has played in this league. more importantly, he has history with the phillies as the signing that “changed the mentality” of the organization, since the phillies spent about as much as the marlins for a while, minus the two world series that the marlins bought. people here have missed him since the day he was traded (while understanding it was a very necessary trade) and bringing him back finally brings everything full circle almost a decade later.

  8. Walk - Nov 5, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Defense is an issue for cuddyer and thome, that is a give. You have to be nuts though not to want to see what those guys do in philly. Personally thome can fill in for howard , a role that seems familiar in a familiar city, cuddyer could spell him if howard’s recovery takes longer or has other complications, and fills in the leftie off the bench role afterwards. I think thome is a great bit of insurance and cuddyer would insure even him and be able to make some starts too.

  9. CJ - Nov 5, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    I’ve been calling for this since the June. It’d be great to see it happen.

    Yes, he’s older than the Phillies would like, but there are no viable younger options in FA. He can play 3rd and left, 1st in a pinch, and his bat will play much better here than in the Twin Cities.

  10. spudchukar - Nov 5, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    At this point in the UZR career, the human eye is superior, unless the human eye is blinded by bias.

    If the Phils make another post-season, and while not a given, it is probable, then Cuddyer and Thome would be great additions for a championship run. But I’m not sure they are going to do much to insure the post season.

    Those two additions are as much an indictment of the Phillie supposed future stars as anything else. Sure they will be able to mix and match the youthful Mayberry, Francisco and Brown but if they were confident any could assume primary playing time in 2012 the moves wouldn’t have been made so quickly.

    If both Oswalt and Rollins leave and it certainly seems to be leaning that way, they are going to have some serious holes to close and that assumes Polanco will be their hot corner answer.

    Perhaps they will use some of that youth as trading pieces but I find it hard to believe they would bring much in return, and that includes Brown. Worley has value but w/o Oswalt he would seem to be needed in the rotation. So that kinda leaves the Free Agent market as the most likely option.

    If the Cards lock up Furcal, then either the Phils join the Reyes circus or get stuck with the likes of Cedeno or Betancourt. Lot of leverage for Rollins. A fourth starter of quality is out there but the question then begs just how much payroll will the Phils be able to take on. Perhaps the losses in the last two NLCS will force the management hand, cause they aren’t getting any younger.

    If Florida and Washington spend this winter as many have suggested and the Braves find some offense the 2012 campaign could be more difficult than it may seem.

    • paperlions - Nov 5, 2011 at 3:18 PM

      A few human eyes are superior….most don’t have enough data, have too much bias, and have no idea what to look for….UZR is still a better measure of defense than avg or RBI are for offense….

      • spudchukar - Nov 5, 2011 at 3:24 PM

        Sure RBIs and BA can be less than stellar indicators or hitting prowess, but neither come close to claiming an 18.1 LF rating for Carlos Lee who isn’t even a zero.

  11. irishjackmp - Nov 6, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    Reuben, please don’t do this deal.

    Cuddeyer will require a minimum of a three year deal and maybe four depending on how the market plays out. He is 33. The steroid era is over so the days of guys in their mid 30’s putting up big numbers has mostly disappeared. His (average) production will almost certainly decline. Exactly how many three year deals do you need to hand out to guys in the latter stages of their careers (Polanco, Ibanez) before you realize it’s probably not a good idea to do it????

    Mayberry gave you better offensive production that Cuddeyer had last year, is much younger and has much better range all while being able to do ti for you at a fraction of the cost. Just put this money into locking up Hamels long term. If ownership is still willing to give you some serious $$$ after getting Hamels done, then try to deal for Daivd Wright as it doesn’t look like the Mets have the cash to resign him.

    Hopefully the irony of replacing a past his prime left fielder whom we never should have given a three year deal to with a (soon to be) past his prime left fielder with another three year deal dawns on Amaro and he spends these dollars elsewhere.

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