I’ve always been intrigued by the human side of baseball and the men who play the game. So, I wonder (for example)……What happens to an athlete……..does he just wake up one morning and suddenly say to himself……you know what…..I just don’t think I can get around on a 95mph fastball anymore. Or…….does he find himself in a lonely hotel room thinking……if I have to take one more red eye flight with the team to play tomorrow’s day game…..what happens? Perhaps more apropos to today’s news is the question what happened so suddenly with Michael Cuddyer who stunned the baseball world, and in particular the New York Mets with his announcement that he is retiring from the game.
A year ago the Mets, in a desperate attempt to solidify a sluggish lineup, signed Michael Cuddyer to a two year guaranteed deal worth $21 million. At the time no one thought he was the player who would put the Mets over the top. And it’s a good thing because over the course of the season, he never came close to fulfilling the expectations the signing carried. Still, everyone (most of all his teammates) seemed content with his addition to the team.
Now we’re not talking about Babe Ruth here okay but Michael Cuddyer was a pretty good ballplayer. Just two years ago, he won the NL Batting Title hitting .331. He was good for 10-15 home runs a year and a better than average on-base percentage. Steady is probably the word that comes to mind when describing his career.
Somehow, someway though everything fell apart for him last year. He looked and appeared different at the plate. His body language was “off”. Teammates, and especially his friend from college David Wright, rallied to his side as he continued to struggle and the season wore on. In the end, he was relegated to the position of head cheerleader with a seat on the bench.
On the line now and of immediate concern for the Mets is the $10.5 million owed to him for the 2016 season. Do they attempt to negotiate a buyout with Cuddyer – who seemingly would be amenable given his under par season and the man he appears to be…….the money for the budget conscious Mets would certainly help ……..But the underlying story still remains……..what happened with Michael Cuddyer?…….