Monday marked the first episode of a new show on KOA, AM 850 titled “Rockies Prime Time”. The show will air each Monday at 7:00pm from now until the end of spring training. The shows hosts, Jack Corrigan, Jerry Schemmel and Mike Rice were joined by the Rockies VP of Communications and Public Relations Jay Alves. The two guests lined up were Michael Cuddyer and GM Dan O’Dowd. After almost 10 minutes of the panel discussing the Hall of Fame results and their thoughts on its single inductee, and others that might be deserving, they had Michael Cuddyer on for some questions.
The first question asked of Michael Cuddyer was if he was excited. His answer leaves little room for doubt:
I’m excited to get out there. I wish the season was tomorrow, that’s how excited I am. Ever since I signed I’ve been looking forward to putting the jersey back on, putting the spikes on and getting back out on the field.
He went on to talk about Tulo giving him a call and he was asked what he thought of Tulo before he met him. Cuddyer said he is a huge fan, after watching him on TV and playing against him, he was very impressed with Tulo’s tenacity. He said that Tulo was one of his favorite players to watch play.
When asked about the call Tulo made to him, Cuddyer said:
Through the process right after the Winter Meetings when I started talking to the Rockies and the possibility of coming to play there, he gave me a call a couple of times and just expressed his excitement to have me as one of his teammates and to start this championship team with me. That spoke volumes to have him reach out to me and just express his excitement.
Another question asked was what kind of player can fans expect to see out of him as he plays in Colorado? What kind of player does he see himself as? How does he evaluate himself?
Well first and foremost I play hard every single day. I pride myself in running out every single ground ball. I pride myself in taking the guy out at second base on pretty much every double play I get a chance to. I’m gonna play the game the way it’s supposed to be played…one thing you are gonna get from me, day in and day out, is everything I’ve got. I can make that promise to every fan out there and I appreciate them and they will appreciate going out and watching me play and I think that’s what it’s going to be like with this whole ball club: going out there and playing hard, playing the right way and being accountable for what you do when you get out on the field. That’s the only way i was taught to play and that’s the only way I know how to play.
When asked what some of the factors that he felt made the Rockies the right team to join, he said that in talking with Dan, Tulo and everyone in the organization he got the same feeling that the team was going to be like the Twins, in that it was a family atmosphere. He felt comfortable from day one in that it would be what he was used to, comfortable. Everyone was excited to have him come to the team. He said he wanted to be on a team that wanted him.
One of the interviewers mentioned that Dan O’Dowd said, that when he was calling people about Cuddyer to see what kind of player he was, that he called Jim Thome and Thome said to Dan:
Michael Cuddyer is the best teammate he has had in his 20 years in the big leagues.
After talking about Thome for a bit they asked him what he felt about the team he was joining. He spoke very highly about how excited he is and gives praise to Tulo, CarGo, Giambi and Helton. He then went on to say something very interesting:
One thing I’m really excited about is the pitching staff. It might be funny for me to say that, because they are unproven and young, but man they’ve got arms. They’ve got a lot of stuff, and stuff that can’t be taught. You can hone young pitchers and you can teach them how to pitch, but you can’t teach a 95 – 97 mph fastball with a nasty slider, you can’t teach that. These guys have that and I’m excited to watch them learn and grow as pitchers and grow as a pitching staff. And I’m excited about the potential that this team has.
He finished up talking about why he chose the number he did, that he really looks up to Harmon Killebrew and he wanted to wear #3 for what Killebrew stood for. He told a pretty funny story about Harmon talking trash about his autograph.
Overall it was an excellent interview and you really feel his sincerity and desire to play.
Next up was GM Dan O’Dowd.
O’Dowd said they have been very active this off-season, with the vision they had to implement. He mentioned several times how hard it is to make deals, trades, etc.
One of the first questions was if we can we expect some more moves with this team, roster wise, before spring training?
Yeah, I think so Jerry, I mean who knows what’s gonna happen, again, as Jay knows because Jay’s been in on all of those discussions, he knows how difficult it is to make trades. I think we’d still like to look to add a little more starting pitching to our club, if possible through trades or though the free agent routes, probably more a non-roster basis via the free agent route. We still have some more irons in the fire and we’re still trying to do some things but I’m not sure how all that will come together.
They went on talking about how the team ended last year and if they, the front office, have done something in this off-season that will help the team. O’Dowd feels that they are a young talented team and they have acquired the players that can help, as long as players that are currently on the team will understand their sense of accountability. He said that it also depends on guys coming back from injury as well.
There was discussion on how they scout players and what they do during the process before approaching a player they want to pick-up, collecting tons of information over years and years, finding out how they are as a person, under pressure, etc. They started looking into Cuddyer during the middle of last summer. They also do a lot of statistical analysis that he touches on briefly.
He spoke about Cuddyer being exactly what they were looking for, a right-handed power hitter who was a veteran who played multiple positions, great clubhouse guy that will be accountable. After hearing the interview with him everyone agreed they nailed all of the aspects he was looking for.
O’Dowd then talked about Casey Blake’s roll and how he “gets it” and how Blake saw, as a Dodger, how our club was from the other side of the field. He mentioned that the players brought in will add to the season, but success will come from the internal players.
They went over 2nd and 3rd base and how Nolan Arenado went off during the AFL (he hit .388/.423/.636 with six home runs, 33 RBI and a 1.059 OPS over 29 AFL games). Speaking about Arenado, O’Dowd said:
We had no clue that Nolan Arenado would put himself in the position that he did at the conclusion of the Arizona Fall League. We knew we had a special player, but when you do what he did (during the season) and then go to the Arizona Fall League and do things players just haven’t done. I mean, his numbers , his RBI’s, especially with runners in scoring position – two outs – you know, guys just haven’t done that in that caliber. He moved himself completely up in our timeframe based upon that performance. What we’re not sure about is where his maturity level is at, as it relates to all of the things you have to handle at the big league level. Skill-set, defensive capability, passion, toughness, aces across the board. It really put us in a position to really aggressively move Ian Steward, because we are extremely comfortable with Nolan as our future.
O’Dowd continues by talking about how they really liked Casey Blake a lot, but weren’t sure about his medicals. How the medical staff checked him out and said that his issues weren’t that bad, and with the contract being favorable it will be the best for the team going forward.
He spoke about 2nd base being the spot that has several players lined up and possibly if the right veteran player comes along they might sign someone. He sees 2nd as the player hitting 8th, so that is the mentality going forward.
Overall it was an excellent show. I’ve only typed up about ½ of it, many of the questions and answers were longer than I have time to type out, and hearing Cuddyer speak for himself really got me excited to see this guy play.
To listen to the whole show you can find it here: http://www.rockiesradionetwork.com/cc-common/podcast/single_page.html?podcast=rockiesprimetime