Yes, the trade of Jason Hammel (and Matt Lindstrom) for Jeremy Guthrie has been a disaster, but that's because Hammel has greatly outperformed expectations and Guthrie has completely fallen apart. The signing of Michael Cuddyer, though, has been awful, and will continue to be awful for the next three years, and it was to be entirely expected.
It's not that Cuddyer is terrible; he's not destroying the team like Ty Wigginton did last year. He's even kind of fun to watch sometimes, since he comes out of the batter's box thinking double just about every time. He's just utterly pointless.
Cuddyer has never been a great hitter, or even a particularly good one. His career high in homers is 32, and other than that it's 24, so he doesn't have great power. He's never hit .300. He seems to have the reputation as an RBI man, but he's driven in 100 runs exactly once. His career high in OBP is .362, which is good but not great, and that was six years ago. It's been declining steadily ever since.
He does enough with the bat to be about average for a right fielder, although at the age of 33 he's not likely to get any better. In other words, he's not really an improvement over Seth Smith, who is both younger and cheaper, but the team was desperate to trade away over the off-season. So why did the Rockies feel the need to make Cuddyer the highest-paid player on the roster? Apparently, he has a great attitude. But I'd rather have someone with a great bat.
The announcers at this afternoon's game were talking about why Todd Helton has been on the bench, and pointed out that the team -understandably - wants to get Tyler Colvin into the lineup. Paraphrasing here, they said, "You can't sit Dexter Fowler, you can't sit Michael Cuddyer...." but why can't you sit Michael Cuddyer? Among the four most-regular outfielders, he's by far the worst hitter: CarGo has a .991 OPS, Colvin has a .983, Dexter has a .918... and Cuddyer has a .791. It's obvious who should sit, except he can't, because he's the highest-paid player on the team and the centerpiece of their off-season plans.
At least Jim Tracy has had the good sense to sit Todd Helton lately, but Cuddyer is terrible at first base. And if he barely hits enough to be sufficient as a right fielder, he doesn't hit at all like a first baseman.
And we've got Cuddyer for the next three years, blocking the way for young talent like Tyler Colvin and forcing the trades of people like Seth Smith. With that contract, he's not going to be tradeable, and he's not likely to be even sittable. What the Rockies, a bad team, need to do going forward is give young talent a chance to show what it can do in the major leagues, but instead, they're going to have an old millstone at right field and/or first base. Cuddyer is going to spend the next three years slowly draining wins away from this team.