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Friday, August 29, 2014

Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki bent on playing shortstop: “I will retire before I move”

Guess who his idol is?

Despite two major surgeries to his left hip and groin area in the past two years, despite the torn left quadriceps he sustained in 2008, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has no intention of switching positions.

“No, I won’t move,” he said in a phone interview. “I will retire before I move.”

Not to third base? Not to first base, a position that could save him from wear and tear and possibly prolong his career?

“No. It’s just who I am, it’s what I do, it’s what I have dreamed of as a kid,” said Tulowitzki, 29. “It’s all I know and it’s all I’ve ever worked for. So I guess when you have a dream and you accomplish it and someone tries to take it away from you ... it wouldn’t be worth it for me to try and move somewhere else.”

Tulowitzki, considered the game’s best all-round shortstop — when healthy — will be due $118 million after this season on a contract that runs through 2020, with a club option for 2021.

The District Attorney Posted: August 29, 2014 at 07:09 PM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rockies, troy tulowitzki

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Willie Mayspedester Posted: August 29, 2014 at 07:24 PM (#4782053)
If the team says move or retire and void your contract he will move.
   2. McCoy Posted: August 29, 2014 at 07:28 PM (#4782055)
More like he'll die on an operating table before he moves.
   3. Bhaakon Posted: August 29, 2014 at 07:40 PM (#4782064)
I blame Derek Jeter for this nonsense.
   4. God Posted: August 29, 2014 at 07:49 PM (#4782071)
Before this year, I kind of liked Tulowitzki. Between this nonsense and all his whoring to get into pinstripes, he now just seems like a clueless blowhard.
   5. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: August 29, 2014 at 07:54 PM (#4782074)
Well, he's the first kid I've heard of that grew up dreaming of getting paid $20 million a year to rehab various injuries. Though it's not a bad living, come to it.

#4 may have put his finger on the real issue here, though: 'this nonsense' and 'whoring to get into pinstripes' may well be one and the same. I'm sure Tulowitzki's agent is aware the Yankees have an opening at shortstop.
   6. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: August 29, 2014 at 07:56 PM (#4782075)
Fortunately for Tulowitzki, I don't think anyone is going to ask him to move anytime soon.
   7. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: August 29, 2014 at 07:57 PM (#4782076)
Troy, don't be That Guy.
   8. puck Posted: August 29, 2014 at 08:24 PM (#4782101)
If the team says move or retire and void your contract he will move.

Yeah, to another team.
   9. Cargo Cultist Posted: August 29, 2014 at 09:11 PM (#4782121)
Time to start calling him "Jeets."
   10. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: August 29, 2014 at 09:23 PM (#4782131)
The difference between Tulo and Jeter in this situation is one of health, pure and simple. Part of what has made Jeter outstanding over the years is that he takes the field nearly every day. Between 1996 and 2011, there was exactly one season in which Jeter missed significant time, and that was because he was slide-tackled up in Toronto. Tulo, on the other hand, is hurt all the time. There is no team that's going to play him at SS forever if they think he can't stay on the field while playing there, and there's no team that's going to take his contract if he's only playing 90 games a season.
   11. Dan Posted: August 29, 2014 at 10:34 PM (#4782158)
How appropriate that Jeter was Tulowitzki's favorite player growing up and that he wears #2 because of that.

Of course Jeter has the PR skills and knowledge that he'd never come out and say this in public, even if he may have told Torre/Cashman something similar behind closed doors.
   12. Greg K Posted: August 29, 2014 at 10:52 PM (#4782165)
The difference between Tulo and Jeter in this situation is one of health, pure and simple. Part of what has made Jeter outstanding over the years is that he takes the field nearly every day. Between 1996 and 2011, there was exactly one season in which Jeter missed significant time, and that was because he was slide-tackled up in Toronto. Tulo, on the other hand, is hurt all the time. There is no team that's going to play him at SS forever if they think he can't stay on the field while playing there, and there's no team that's going to take his contract if he's only playing 90 games a season.

Tulo is Nomar?
   13. Select Storage Device Posted: August 30, 2014 at 12:47 AM (#4782209)
Tulowitzki, Jeter, and Nomar walk into a bar, and a baseball game breaks out. All three demand to play shortstop.

Who do yo... Tulowitzki.
   14. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: August 30, 2014 at 12:57 AM (#4782210)
Jeter:Captain Clutch :: Tulo:Captain Crutch
   15. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: August 30, 2014 at 01:24 AM (#4782215)
There is no team that's going to play him at SS forever if they think he can't stay on the field while playing there, and there's no team that's going to take his contract if he's only playing 90 games a season.


Of course, he put up 5.6 WAR in 91 games this year, so he easily earned the $16M he got paid. He's also just 3 WAR short of Jeter through age 29, and Jeter only averaged 2.9 WAR/year after that (though 4.5 from age 30-35).
   16. Select Storage Device Posted: August 30, 2014 at 01:30 AM (#4782217)
This isn't a good comparison to Jeter because one has a good case to stay at SS, and the other squashed his competition like a small town district rep incumbent a decade ago.
   17. Bhaakon Posted: August 30, 2014 at 03:14 AM (#4782240)
Of course, he put up 5.6 WAR in 91 games this year, so he easily earned the $16M he got paid. He's also just 3 WAR short of Jeter through age 29, and Jeter only averaged 2.9 WAR/year after that (though 4.5 from age 30-35).


Suppose that the Rockies had somehow made the playoffs, and Tulo was unavailable. Now, technically, yes, those WAR are worth what he's being paid, but no team is going to be happy paying for regular season WAR and then going into the playoff with an MVP-sized hole in their lineup. The goal is, ultimately, championships, not regular season wins, and while getting to the postseason is more than half the battle, fielding your best team in the postseason still matters.
   18. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: August 30, 2014 at 08:14 AM (#4782254)
Tulowitzki, Jeter, and Nomar walk into a bar, and a baseball game breaks out. All three demand to play shortstop.


You shoot Walter O'Malley twice. (Oops, wrong joke.)

   19. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: August 30, 2014 at 09:53 AM (#4782302)
Of course, he put up 5.6 WAR in 91 games this year, so he easily earned the $16M he got paid. He's also just 3 WAR short of Jeter through age 29, and Jeter only averaged 2.9 WAR/year after that (though 4.5 from age 30-35).


This is the limit of a pure WAR argument. A guy who you can't trust to be on the field when the chips are down is worth significantly less than a pure $/WAR argument might make him out to be, because (A) you can't count on him to help you in a pennant race or the playoffs, and (B) you can't market him to your fans because they have no idea if he'll be on the field when they come to the ballpark.

Then there's the fact that a guy who gives you ~5 WAR in half a season is forcing you to find that theoretical replacement half the time.
   20. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 30, 2014 at 10:06 AM (#4782305)
Never heard of him.
   21. Ziggy Posted: August 30, 2014 at 10:45 AM (#4782322)
In reverse order:

"you can't market him to your fans because they have no idea if he'll be on the field when they come to the ballpark."

Do fans come out to see particular players, or winning teams? I remember James did a study in one of the abstracts about attendance when particular pitchers are pitching, and there was effectively no difference between Nolan Ryan and anyone else on the Astros pitching staff. If I recall (which I might not), I don't think there was any difference for anyone else either. Whether that holds for position players (or post 1980s) I don't know.

"you can't count on him to help you in a pennant race or the playoffs"

All of the regular season games are a part of the pennant race. Maybe you don't know if you'll be in a pennant race on opening day, but that win on opening day helps you get into the playoffs just as much as a win at the end of September. As for not knowing if he'll be available in the playoffs: good point. Hopefully the Rockies got a discount on the basis of that uncertainty.

Oh, and I guess I have something to say about this as well: "Then there's the fact that a guy who gives you ~5 WAR in half a season is forcing you to find that theoretical replacement half the time."

In the long run, this shouldn't matter very much. If we've set replacement level accurately, on average you should be able to find someone at 0 WAR to take his place. Some years it'll be higher than that, some years it'll be lower, but it'll work out to 0 in the long run. In fact, whether this matters at all (in the long run) depends only on whether Tulo's contract is insured. If it's not, then he costs only the league minimum more than a healthier 5 WAR player (because you'll need to pay the league minimum to his replacement). If his contract IS insured, then it's BETTER* to have the player who is worth 5 WAR in half a season than the one who is worth 5 WAR over a whole season, because you don't have to pay for the time that he's on the DL.

*The bit about the playoffs excepted.
   22. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 30, 2014 at 11:16 AM (#4782327)
Then there's the fact that a guy who gives you ~5 WAR in half a season is forcing you to find that theoretical replacement half the time.

And, as long as you're smart enough to find an actual replacement level (or better) player, he's still worth 5 WAR.
   23. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2014 at 12:13 PM (#4782359)
In fact, whether this matters at all (in the long run) depends only on whether Tulo's contract is insured. If it's not, then he costs only the league minimum more than a healthier 5 WAR player (because you'll need to pay the league minimum to his replacement). If his contract IS insured, then it's BETTER* to have the player who is worth 5 WAR in half a season than the one who is worth 5 WAR over a whole season, because you don't have to pay for the time that he's on the DL.


I don't think this is how insurance works for MLB players. I think it usually kicks in when players miss a substantial amount of time, like 60 days or an entire season. And I don't think they recoup the entire salary. And then if you're getting into such details you probably want to consider the fact that Tulo's premiums must be pretty high.

tl;dr: insurance isn't like free money, dude.
   24. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4782367)
Suppose that the Rockies had somehow made the playoffs, and Tulo was unavailable. Now, technically, yes, those WAR are worth what he's being paid, but no team is going to be happy paying for regular season WAR and then going into the playoff with an MVP-sized hole in their lineup. The goal is, ultimately, championships, not regular season wins, and while getting to the postseason is more than half the battle, fielding your best team in the postseason still matters.


This cuts both ways. If Tulo is healthy when the Rockies are in the playoffs, and he's playing at the 7-9 WAR rate that he is capable of, then for a few weeks he's probably the most valuable player in baseball.

Even with Tulowitzki's health problems I think his contract is pretty peachy. Lots of teams would leap at the chance to take it on. He's owed the same amount as Elvis Andrus. And despite his issues, he's still a lean and athletic fellow, the type of guy you'd expect to age well.
   25. BDC Posted: August 30, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4782369)
The most similar batting careers to Tulowitzki's, through age 29, by OPS+ and PAs:

Player             dWAR   PA OPSRbaser   Age        Pos
Troy Tulowitzki    13.2 4064  125    1.7 21
-29       *6/H
Tony Perez          0.6 3996  127   
-2.2 22-29     *53/H4
Bernie Williams     0.4 4228  127   
-3.6 22-29    *8/DH79
Heinie Zimmerman   
-0.1 4142  126   -5.9 20-29 *54/638H79
Amos Strunk        
-1.5 4008  124   -5.1 19-29    *87/93H
Mike Greenwell     
-2.4 3949  127  -12.3 21-29    *7/HD92
Bob Meusel         
-3.4 3969  124   -4.2 23-29    97/5H83
Vic Wertz          
-4.5 4214  125   -3.9 22-29    *97/3H8
Ted Kluszewski     
-5.9 4010  124    0.4 22-29       *3/H
Leon Durham        
-8.3 3907  126   -7.2 22-29    *398/7H 


Tulo was an everyday player at age 22; most of the others, not till age 24 or so. Hence the relative unimpressiveness of the list: some of these guys were stars, and all were fine players, but Tulo has been high on MVP ballots and is your basic young superstar. Of course he's by far the defensive standout on the list. He's even the baserunning standout despite having modest speed before his injuries. But on aggregate, his profile is that of a less-mobile slugger who took some time to get established. To make the HOF after that kind of start, you need to be Tony Perez, i.e. hit 200 home runs in your thirties, and stick around for a while after that, and have some rings on your fingers too.

Well, the replace-Jeter plan might provide all that stuff for Tulo. Why not, it would be a storybook decade.
   26. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4782380)
The list I'd like to see is players with similarly high WAR / PA rates, and similarly low averages of games played per season. Interesting to see what that search would drag up.
   27. BDC Posted: August 30, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4782397)
Okay :)

This list cuts off a little lower than Tulo in terms of WAR/PA; the lower bound is .0085; his ratio is about .009. There is no upper bound, so it includes players somewhat better. These are guys whose G are within a range of 200 centered on Tulo through nine seasons:

Player              dWAR    G WAR/pos   PA   Age       Pos
Lou Boudreau        14.3 1043    39.8 4552 20
-28    *6/H25
Troy Tulowitzki     13.2  961    37.8 4064 21
-29      *6/H
Bobby Grich         12.5  982    40.8 4160 21
-29  *46/3H5D
Joe Cronin          12.2  990    36.9 4256 19
-27    *6/4H3
Barry Larkin        10.1 1045    38.6 4424 22
-30     *6/H4
Evan Longoria        9.5  932    38.6 4010 22
-28    *5/DH6
Nomar Garciaparra    8.5 1009    42.4 4530 22
-30    *6/HD4
Eddie Collins        5.3 1013    54.9 4296 19
-27  *4/69875
J
.DDrew            3.8  960    33.5 3774 22-30   *98/H7D
Larry Walker         3.2 1041    36.8 4220 22
-30  *9/38H7D
Nap Lajoie           1.5  975    47.7 4290 21
-29 *43/69857
Charlie Keller      
-0.7 1004    41.4 4321 22-31     *79/H
Jimmie Foxx         
-1.0  959    45.2 3940 17-25 *35/H2967
Joey Votto          
-3.0  952    35.5 4062 23-30     *3/H7
Hank Greenberg      
-3.0 1030    44.3 4588 19-29     *37/


More hopeful, needless to say, though now we get some famous injury casualties like Garciaparra and Keller, and Drew, for that matter. But now we do get Larkin and Grich, which does seem to be the right range for Tulowitzki's abilities. We also get some guys who got younger starts (Cronin, Foxx, even Boudreau) and some much greater players (Collins, Lajoie), since there is no upper bound. Lots of Hall of Famers, though.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: August 30, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4782399)
From 22-29, Tulo is a bit short of 1 WAR per 100 PA. In the expansion era, there are only 12 players who produced WAR at a pace better than 1 WAR per 100 PA-- Carter, Schmidt, Utley, Bonds, Brett, ARod, Griffey, Boggs, Yaz, Rickey, Piazza and Pujols. Once you take starting age into account and don't count Piazza, even Utley might beat Tulo on durability. On the other hand, from 30 on, only Utley and Griffey had major durability issues.

Pushing the threhold up to 1 WAR per 110 PA brings in Tulo and a few more pretty good comps -- Grich, Rolen, Yount, Longoria, Nomar. Not nearly as promising a group for the 30s.
   29. puck Posted: August 30, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4782408)
And, as long as you're smart enough to find an actual replacement level (or better) player, he's still worth 5 WAR.


Alas, these are the Rockies you're talking about:

Colorado Rockies Player Splits: as SS

Rk  Name        GS  PA  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
1   Tulowitzki  89 372 312 71 107 18  1 21  52  1  1 50  55 .343 .435 .609 1.044
2   Culberson   14  48  42  4   8  3  0  1   4  0  0  4  12 .190 .277 .333  .610
3   Rutledge    42 159 148 13  34  7  2  1  13  2  2  8  46 .230 .268 .324  .592
4   Adames       1   3      3   0  0  0  0   0  0  0  0   0 .000 .000 .000  .000 

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