The conversation that Troy Tulowitzki had with Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd, in the GM's office in the first days of October, was about baseball, but it really wasn't.
It was about Tulowitzki's ambition. It was about what Tulowitzki wanted to do with his life, how he wanted to raise children, where he wanted to live, what he wanted to accomplish.
O'Dowd walked away from those conversations thinking that Rockies owner Charlie Monfort needed to hear what Tulowitzki felt and what he was thinking. And so he asked Tulowitzki to come back to his office to meet with Monfort, with whom the shortstop has a good relationship.
No money was discussed. No contract was discussed. This was about Tulowitzki's ambitions. He spoke about how he wanted what Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken had been able to do -- play careers that could be measured in decades for one team in one city. He wanted what Derek Jeter -- Tulowitzki's inspiration for wearing No. 2 -- appears to have. "He cited those guys and said, 'This is what I want my career to represent,'" recalled O'Dowd.
Monfort and O'Dowd came out of that meeting believing they wanted to invest in Tulowitzki and his dream. "I saw a maturity in him that I've been noticing the last couple of years," O'Dowd said over the phone Tuesday evening.
Tulowitzki's status as the best shortstop in the big leagues is the major reason the Rockies have committed $157.75 million over the next 10 years to him. O'Dowd knows that there will be industry criticism of Colorado's decision to do this now, but he and Monfort are convinced that everything is right about this deal -- the player, the timing, the motives on both sides. "When you do things for the right reasons," said O'Dowd, "it usually works out OK."
O'Dowd and Tulowitzki talked through all that could happen during the tenure of the shortstop's contract. The Rockies, with their mid-level payroll, might struggle. There might be a day when Tulowitzki might have to change positions. There could be a lot of ups and downs.
And at the end of those conversations and about six weeks of negotiations, O'Dowd and Tulowitzki and agent Paul Cohen had worked out a mutual future.
Kenton Wong of ESPN Stats & Information has this take on the Tulowitzki signing:
"The Troy Tulowitzki extension is reminiscent of the deals signed by Alex Rodriguez with the Rangers and by Derek Jeter with the Yankees following the 2000 season. All three of the deals locked up the player for 10 years and were signed with the shortstop in his mid-20s. Rodriguez was 25 at the time he signed with Texas; Jeter and Tulowitzki 26.
"The extension brings his current deal to 10 years and just under $158 million. That is the third-richest contract given to a shortstop behind the aforementioned Rodriguez and Jeter deals."
Here are those deals (and ages):
Alex Rodriguez, 10 years/$252M (25)
Derek Jeter, 10 years/$189M (26)
Troy Tulowitzki, 10 years/$157.75M (26)
"The $157.75 million the Rockies have committed to Tulowitzki seems like a lot, but if the Rockies shortstop can continue to produce like he did last season, Colorado may have themselves a bargain. Last season Tulowitzki was worth 6.4 more wins than a replacement level player. No other shortstop was worth more than 5.1 wins in 2010. Those 6.4 wins are valued at just under $26 million."
The most wins above replacement among shortstops last season:
Troy Tulowitzki: 6.4
Stephen Drew: 5.1
Hanley Ramirez: 4.4
Alexei Ramirez: 3.8
Around the league
• Jamie McCourt rejected a divorce settlement proposal, and the ownership of the Dodgers might be in a state of flux for months to come, as Bill Shaikin writes.
At least the Dodgers are able to go about the business of making the team better, in a way they did not a year ago. The Dodgers announced the Juan Uribe deal.
• The Yankees and Derek Jeter are talking again, Hank Steinbrenner is confident the shortstop will re-sign, and presumably they're making progress toward reaching a deal, and moving forward, two things need to happen:
No. 1: Jeter needs to make sure he doesn't take any of what's happened over the last few weeks to heart. It's business, not personal; he has been trying to negotiate to get as much money as possible, and the Yankees have been angling to pay him according to what they believe his market value is.
When I covered the Orioles for the Baltimore Sun in 1995 and 1996, there was always a thick tension between Cal Ripken and the team -- which seemed to be rooted in the club's decision to fire Cal Ripken Sr. as manager in 1988. Never mind that the people who had made that decision had long since moved on -- there was always a tug and pull between the team's decision-makers (including the managers) and Ripken, and it was not a good thing for an organization that was going about the business of trying to win championships.
If Jeter feels anger toward the team or the media for how this has played out, he needs to put that behind him and imagine how he would've felt if, as an 18-year-old, he had been offered a three-year, $45 million deal to be the shortstop of the Yankees. Even if he doesn't get what he wants in this negotiation, he is still in an incredible situation.
No. 2: The Yankees need to do all they can to reach across the aisle and make sure Jeter knows that they view him as an important part of a championship contender. If that means Joe Girardi flying down to meet with Jeter, so be it. If it means doing something like picking up the tab for Jeter's Super Bowl party -- a nice gesture -- so be it. If it means putting on all the bells and whistles to announce Jeter's new deal, they should do that.
Meanwhile, Cashman is going to rappel 22 stories. Which is crazy.
• Middle infielders are dominating the news in the NL West, and as our colleague Enrique Rojas reports, Miguel Tejada agreed to terms with the Giants. He is returning to the Bay Area, writes Henry Schulman. Tejada once energized the Athletics, as Andrew Baggarly notes.
The Giants really, really like shortstop prospect Brandon Crawford, but they think he's still a year away.
• Carl Pavano is the best available starting pitcher on the free agent market not named Cliff Lee, and his situation will play out over the next 10 days, into the winter meetings. Pavano went 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA last season, and the Twins remain solidly in the mix in the right-hander's contract talks; the Twins have shed a lot of money with the departures of Nick Punto, Orlando Hudson and others, so they do have some flexibility in negotiating with Pavano. Remember, too, that Pavano has loved his time with the Twins.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. The Rays are going to get a ton of draft picks next summer, but their bullpen reconstruction will have to be almost from the ground up, now that Grant Balfour has turned down their offer of arbitration. Once Joaquin Benoit signed his three-year, $16.5 million deal, the market prices for relievers shifted, and guys like Balfour became more attractive. This will make it easier for him to find a multiyear deal someplace -- but more much difficult for the Rays to rebuild their bullpen in a winter in which they're cutting payroll.
4. The Rangers signed a pitcher from Japan.
5. With Pedro Feliciano departing, the Mets might look at Oliver Perez as a left-handed specialist. That sounds like something that might look good on paper in the winter but never translates when they actually start playing games. The problem with Perez coming out of the bullpen is that he gets into streaks of wildness, which will drive a manager (and teammates) absolutely crazy if it repeatedly happens in the seventh and eighth innings.
7. It would be worth it for the Phillies to make an offer to Jayson Werth, writes Bill Conlin, in light of Domonic Brown's struggles in winter ball. Ruben Amaro understands what it means for Brown to struggle, writes Bob Brookover.
8. Three Twins turned down arbitration offers.
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka is excited to join the Twins.
10. The Cardinals traded for a shortstop.
17. A couple of D-Backs declined arbitration, writes Nick Piecoro.
Dings and dents
2. A couple of Mets are banged up, as mentioned in this Dan Martin notebook.
• The Red Sox announced their spring training schedule, as Daniel Barbarisi writes.
• The Tigers' opener will be moved back to 3:05.
• Some nice words in Sports Illustrated about the book.
And today will be better than yesterday.