Monday, February 18, 2019

Meet the 2019 Yankees: Troy Tulowitzki

The New York Yankees signed one of the best shortstops to play the game during my lifetime, but the problem is the team did it about five years too late in my opinion. I say this not trying to be down on Troy Tulowitzki, but I will preface that by saying that Troy has a lot to prove this season in the health department. On January 4, 2019 the Yankees announced that they would sign Tulo for a league minimum deal worth $555k with a full no-trade clause to be their starting shortstop until Didi Gregorius returns from the 60-day disabled list. AJ Cole was designated for assignment, which was news enough for me with the deal, and the Tulo era in the Bronx officially began… so let’s meet him. Your 2019 Opening Day shortstop for the New York Yankees, Mr. Troy Tulowitzki.

Tulo, 34-years old, is a right-handed batter and throwing shortstop that stands 6’3” and weighs in at 205 lbs. Tulo did not play at all in 2018 after a pair of heel injuries ended his season prematurely and will look to play more than the 66 games he played in 2017 with the Toronto Blue Jays here in 2018 with the New York Yankees.

Troy Trevor Tulowitzki was born on October 10, 1984 in Santa Clara, California. Tulo graduated from Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, California where he earned four varsity letters in baseball and another two in basketball. Tulo was also All-State twice in baseball and was a three-time MVP award winner with the school including his junior season when he batted .536 and also pitched to a 15-1 record. After High School, Tulo enrolled at California State University, Long Beach where he played college baseball for the Long Beach State Dirtbags. Tulo won many accolades and awards while with the Dirtbags and eventually caught the eyes of the Colorado Rockies who chose Tulo seventh overall in the first round of the 2005 Major League Baseball First Year Players Draft.

Tulo signed and was immediately assigned to the Rockies minor league system where his professional career took off. By 2006, Tulo had already reached Double-A with the Tulsa Drillers and also appeared in the 2006 All-Star Futures Game. By the end of August, after just 126 minor league games, the Rockies promoted Tulo to the major leagues to make his debut against the New York Mets. Tulo finished the 2006 season out with Colorado and headed into the spring of 2007 competing for the starting shortstop job with incumbent Clint Barmes. Tulo would not only win the job that spring, but he would also win the team’s spring training MVP award. Tulo set an MLB record for fielding percentage as a rookie with a .987 FLD% and finished second in the National League’s Rookie of the Year Award to Ryan Braun by two points despite leading all rookies in many key categories. Before winning the award, though, he led the Rockies into the postseason and past the San Diego Padres in a Wild Card tie-breaker game. The Rockies faced off with the Phillies and swept them in the NLDS before sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS to advance to the World Series. Unfortunately, the Rockies had to face off with the red-hot Boston Red Sox in the World Series and would ultimately be swept away in four games.

After just one season the Rockies had seen enough to commit a six-year deal and $31 million to their starting shortstop including a club option for the 2014 season. Tulo looked to repeat his great season in 2008, but unfortunately, he would see the injury bug in April after tearing his left quadriceps tendon against the San Francisco Giants. Tulo returned on June 20th of that season only to head back to the disabled list on July 5, 2008 with a laceration in his palm. Tulo returned 15 days later and completed his 2008 season falling short of the expectations set by the previous year in Colorado. Tulo finished 5th in the voting for the NL MVP Award in 2009 before a fractured wrist ended his season in June of 2010. Tulo was named to the NL All-Star Game in 2010 after fracturing his wrist, but he was ultimately replaced by Jose Reyes since he could not participate in the game inside Angels Stadium. Tulo finished 5th in the MVP voting again in 2010 and the Rockies shortstop also won his first Gold Glove Award. Tulo was once again rewarded with an extension by the Rockies after the season as well after a strong campaign. After the 2010 season the Colorado Rockies gave Tulo another six-year extension, on top of the three-years he already had remaining on his contract along with his option for a fourth year, worth $120 million.

Tulo returned to the All-Star Game in 2011 after being chosen as a reserve player. This time an injury to Jose Reyes of the Mets allowed Tulo to start the game in Phoenix, Arizona. Tulo finished the 2011 season with his second consecutive Gold Glove Award as well as his second consecutive Silver Slugger Award as well. Tulo looked to continue his string of great play for the Rockies, but a groin injury that occurred on May 30, 2012 ended his season after just 47 games. Tulo made a return to the NL All-Star team in 2013 despite missing 25 games with a fractured rib, but the shortstop saw his 2014 season end prematurely again due to injury on July 20. Tulo underwent a labral repair surgery in his left hip after the game which ended his season after just 91 games. Tulo returned in 2015 and made his fifth All-Star game as a Rockies player, replacing Dee Gordon, and was batting .300 with 12 home runs and 53 RBI in 87 games before being traded along with LaTroy Hawkins to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Jose Reyes, Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco.

Tulo was angry with Rockies GM Jeff Bridich at the time of the trade and vowed to never speak to him or other members of the Rockies front office after keeping their shortstop in the dark about the trade until it was finalized. Tulo vowed to let playing for a contender revitalize his career. Tulo missed time with a cracked shoulder blade after the trade, but was able to return before the postseason, helping lead the Blue Jays to the American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals. Toronto would ultimately end up losing the series to the eventual champion Kansas City Royals, but the Blue Jays were presumably excited about their chances of returning to the postseason in 2016 with Tulo playing shortstop for them. Tulo struggled for the Jays in 2016 and missed 20 games due to a right quad strain while the Blue Jays finished second in the AL East, missing the postseason. Tulo remained injured in 2017, missing all but 66 games due to various injuries including a hamstring injury and a right ankle sprain that eventually was diagnosed as ankle ligament damage. That same right ankle kept Tulo out of spring training camp with the Blue Jays in 2018 after bone spurs required surgery.

Before the 2019 season the Blue Jays released Tulo from the remaining two-years and $38 million on his contract, thus making him a free agent. Tulo held a workout for all teams to attend and caught the eyes of many scouts and GM’s including the GM of the New York Yankees, Brian Cashman. The Yankees signed Tulo to a one-year deal at the league minimum and included a full no-trade clause in the contract to be the team’s starting shortstop until Didi Gregorius returned from having Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow.

Welcome to the organization, finally, and welcome to the family, Tulo. Do us proud!

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