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Rockies admit Tulowitzki is available too late to help Cardinals

A year or two after it might have done the St. Louis Cardinals some good, word out of Colorado is that the Rockies have decided they're finally willing to entertain offers for Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

That could be irritating for St. Louis fans who figure that the Redbirds might be flying their 12th World Series banner at Busch Stadium if Tulowitzki played short for the Cardinals in 2013 instead of Pete Kozma. But the Rocks were content to keep Tulo through the cheaper years of his deal and then flip him to a sucker when he was used up.

As late as a year ago, reports indicated that the Redbirds tried in earnest to pry Tulowitzki away from the Rockies. But Colorado ownership insisted the injury-prone middle infielder wasn't going anywhere because he was the heart and soul of their team and the foundation on which they would build their future. The Birds were forced to go to Plan B, signing Jhonny Peralta to a multi-year contract to man the shortstop position from 2014 until 2017.

In the meantime, history proved that Tulowitzki can't stay healthy and that the Rockies held on to him for a year or two too long -- which saved the St. Louis tens of millions of dollars in the process.

What did the Rockies get for their stubbornness? A 66-96 record, good enough for fourth place in the National League West.

The Rockies had a payroll of $93 million last season, by far the highest amount in franchise history. Tulo's annual salary jumps from $16 million in 2014 to $20 million in 2015 and remains at that level for five years before dropping to $14 million 2020. He has an option for 2021 with a $4 million buyout.

That means Colorado, which gave Tulowitzki a 10-year, $157-million contract which started in 2011, thinks it is going to get away with keeping their shortstop for his best years for a total of $39 million then flip him to a sucker who will take over a 30-year-old shortstop on what amounts to a six-year contract for $118 million?

That's a bad deal if Tulowitzki was a healthy player who was aging at a normal pace. But his health should really give a potential suitor pause. He had labrum surgery on his hip which ended his 2014 season. And that sort of a procedure is nothing to be taken lightly because it doesn't have a great record for healing with 100 percent of the strength and flexibility the player had before. And, even when the operation is successful, it can take six months or more to recover.

It looks like the Rockies may be the victim of their greed in Tulowitzki's case, costing themselves a chance to save more than $100 million while landing high quality players in return. At this point, if they can get rid of Tulo at all, I would guess they'd have to eat a substantial portion of his contract and greatly reduce their demands for talent in return.

As far as Carlos Gonzales is concerned he, too, is damaged goods. But I wouldn't be interested him if he was healthy because he may be the ultimate product of Coors Field. CarGo is a .339 career hitter there -- and a .258 hitter everywhere else.

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