The American League Gold Glove Award winners were announced yesterday, and among the names on the list was Twins catcher Joe Mauer. It was Mauer's first time receiving the honor, but he's got the name recognition and skills to be one of those guys who is a yearly fixture on the list, perhaps taking over the reigns for Ivan Rodriguez, who has won the AL Gold Glove Award at catcher in 13 of the past 16 seasons.
Mauer was among just four backstops to catch 1,200-plus innings this season, and he did so while working with a young and inexperienced staff that achieved surprisingly successful results. He also did a good job of controlling opponents' running games, gunning down 29 of 80 potential base-stealers (36 percent).
Moving back to the rumor mill, Rockies beat writer Tracy Ringolsby reported yesterday that Colorado may be interested in Michael Cuddyer as a trade piece for Garrett Atkins. Says Ringolsby:
The Rockies are looking to add a quality starter in the offseason, and the Twins could offer the likes of Nick Blackburn or Kevin Slowey. But the Rockies would also like to add a right-handed, run-producing hitter in a multiple-player package, which is where Cuddyer, a strong clubhouse presence, would fit.
Something's not right here.
Atkins, career (162 gm avg): .298/.360/.474, 22 HR, 108 RBI
Cuddyer, career (162 gm avg): .268/.344/.441, 18 HR, 79 RBI
The Rockies are in the market for a "right-handed, run-producing hitter," yet they're interested in swapping the good one they already have for an inferior one who makes more money and is coming off a disastrous, injury-riddled campaign?
If the Twins decide to move an outfielder to clear up their current glut, I certainly think Cuddyer should be the guy, but I always assumed his value would be pretty low right now. If it's true that the Rockies covet him and would be willing to trade Atkins for a package composed of, say, Cuddyer, Kevin Mulvey and an arm in the low minors, I'd be all for it. I don't think that's likely. My guess is that the Rockies would be asking for Cuddyer plus Nick Blackburn, whose ground ball tendencies would play well in their park.
Atkins has some attributes that make him an attractive fit for the Twins. He's a right-handed slugger who has averaged 22 home runs and 105 RBI in his four full seasons as a major-leaguer. He remains arbitration-eligible for two more years, so he fits the bill as a relatively inexpensive short-term fix. However, questions abound about how Atkins will hit when he's removed from Coors Field (his career OPS at home is 170 points higher than his career road OPS) and he's coming off arguably the worst season of his career. He's also a marginal defender at third base.
Atkins is an intriguing player who has had his name connected to the Twins on multiple occasions in the past, and the emergence of Cuddyer's name as a potential trade piece is interesting. Unfortunately, I don't see how that trade makes sense for the Rockies, and if they're looking to chip into The Fab 5, Bill Smith does not face an easy decision.