Michael Cuddyer 'just as much a part of that 99-loss team as anybody'
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
The Colorado Rockies officially introduced their new free-agent acquisition, Michael Cuddyer, on Tuesday afternoon.
But in order to tie up some loose ends and answer questions that still linger, Cuddyer, a member of the Minnesota Twins organization since 1997, spoke with local reporters on a conference call Tuesday evening.
- On the overall dynamics of choosing the Rockies
First of all, it was extremely tough. Obviously you guys know the relationship that I've had with the Twins organization, and also the fans, the community, that Claudia and I tied and entrenched ourselves in. So yeah, aside from the baseball side it was extremely tough because of the relationships that we built.
As far as the speed of what was going on, it was kind of nothing was going on for a long, long time. I mean, that's kind of why I was so quiet and silent, because really there was nothing going on. And obviously when the winter meetings came around that's how things started picking up again.
- Can you give us a sense as to how close (or not close) you came to rejoining the Twins over the last couple weeks?
Obviously there were talks, but I think basically what it boiled down to is the direction was different. There was things they had in mind, and obviously there was other choices, and it came down to a business decision. They chose to go with Willingham and the two draft picks that went with it, and I can't by any means criticize that decision. It was a decision they made, and ultimately moved on from that.
- What was appealing about Colorado?
First of all, the excitement level they had in wanting me to be a part of their organization. Once the winter meetings came around they gave me a call... And the moves that (GM Dan O'Dowd) went out and made to bring me to the Colorado Rockies organization, they traded Huston Street, traded Ian Stewart to try to make a run for me. And to show that level of commitment, I was blown away by that. And that went a long way into my decision, and also I got phone calls from the owner, I got phone calls from Troy Tulowitzki, and those all went a long way. I didn't expect anything from the Twins in that nature, because I know everybody there. There was no need for... I didn't need Gardy to call me, I didn't need Morneau, I didn't need anyone to call me. But it was nice to hear from the Rockies.
- To be clear, the Twins moved on before you?
Not to get into the specifics of the negotiations, but there were offers, and basically what it boiled down to was they couldn't wait any longer, which I respected, and ultimately they went and signed Josh (Willingham).
- Were there serious discussions about you still joining the Twins even after Willingham signed?
Not to my knowledge.
- Under what circumstances would you have re-signed with the Twins?
That's hard to say, because I never really got to that point. Because that was never really in front of me, I can't say this would have got it done, or that would have got it done. The situation and circumstances at hand obviously (I) wasn't able to do that, and basically that's all I can say. The Rockies were able to do some things that the Twins weren't.
- You sound like you're a little disappointed with how things ended up here. Is that accurate?
Anytime you're at a place for as long as you have been, it's bittersweet, there's no doubt about that. I'm not mad. I've got no hard feelings by any means towards anybody. That organization, the Twins gave me a chance to play, gave me a chance to realize my dream of being a major league baseball player, and fulfilled every obligation they had to me for 14, almost 15 years.... And in turn I gave them everything I had in that time.
- You mentioned in your press conference today that you focus on being accountable, and I think we saw that in your time with the Twins -- In your mind, how -- if at all -- was accountability lacking with the Twins last season?
Once things started going south, that was a problem we had in our clubhouse was the issue of accountability. I think that's not a secret, I think even Gardy came out and said that. Whether it had an effect on me going somewhere else, that's not fair to say that either. I think honestly last year was disappointing, but I was a part of it. I was just as much a part of that 99-loss team as anybody. So for me to blame last season on the way this has resulted would not be fair at all.
- Are you leaving Minnesota with frayed relationships at all?
No, I don't think so at all. Not on my side. There's no chance. I owe everything I am as a player to Minnesota, and everything I am as a person as well. I grew up as a professional baseball player in the Twins organization and I'm damn proud of that.
- What does it mean to wear No. 3?
No matter where I would have gone, even if No. 5 was available, I think I would have switched to No. 3. I have the utmost respect for Harmon Killebrew, obviously, and I can't think of a better person's number to have on your back. And each and every day to go out there and play the game, and try to represent him well means a lot. I think that's why I chose No. 3, and obviously Carlos Gonzalez here is No. 5, but honestly even if No. 5 was available I think I would have at least requested or tried to switch to 3 just out of the respect I had for (Killebrew).
- Did the Twins' change in general managers change anything for you?
I think it did. And that is not any disrespect at all to (Bill) Smith. There is no disrespect there. But having Mr. Ryan come back on board, it did (matter). I have the utmost respect for him. And the opportunity that he gave me throughout the course of my career, and the relationship that I have with him, yeah, I think it did. By him coming on board it made it a lot tougher to leave.