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Michael Cuddyer earned a lot of fans in Colorado

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I was heavily critical of the Rockies choosing to extend a qualifying offer to Michael Cuddyer last week, but I'll also readily admit that the team lost a good ballplayer and a great man to free agency on Monday.

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I didn't want the Colorado Rockies to be stuck paying $15.3 million for a 36-year-old veteran without a position in 2015. In purely a baseball sense, the New York Mets taking that situation off of the Rockies' hands was a favor of the highest order.

But that doesn't mean I won't miss Michael Cuddyer.

The Rockies haven't played a lot of great baseball since Cuddyer arrived in Denver prior to the 2012 season. In fact, the team is 78 games under .500 during that time. But Cuddyer provided some pretty solid memories to Colorado baseball fans in his three years in purple pinstripes.

Tops among them, in my mind, was Cuddyer's cycle against the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 17. No. 3 capped off a great day -- one in which the greatest Rockie of them all, Todd Helton, became the franchise's first player to have his jersey retired -- in memorable fashion. To those of us who were at the ballpark for 12 hours on that day, it made the experience all that much more amazing. In fact, Cuddyer's double to secure the cycle is probably the thing that still stands out to me the most, a feat not easily accomplished given all of that day's events.

Then, of course, there was the batting title Cuddy won in 2013, making yet another season in which the Rockies didn't have their star duo of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez during crucial stretches not a complete waste. Cuddyer never had a walk-off hit for the Rockies, but I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of other big hits. And he undoubtedly came up with a lot of them. In his one full, healthy season with the Rockies, Cuddyer hit .326/.420/.465 in high-leverage situations. Overall, he was a .307/.362/.525 hitter for Colorado. That kind of production won't be replaced easily.

Off the field, Cuddyer was even better than he was on it. From his involvement with the community -- a very important aspect that often gets overlooked -- to his genuinely welcoming attitude toward the media, Cuddy was as strong as they come in sports these days.

Cuddyer has a ton of shortcomings on defense. In fact, he's best suited as a designated hitter. And at some point, the Mets might try like heck to unload some of the $21 million they'll have to pay him over the next two years. But they'll also get to see first-hand a model citizen off the field and a true ballplayer on it. It's hard to put a price tag on that, as much as I try not to because of the inability to truly judge what it means to a team.

None of this is to say the Rockies won't benefit from Cuddyer bailing for the Big Apple. Colorado will net a pick somewhere around No. 30 -- a spot in the draft where they've had some success as of late -- and will be able to see what Corey Dickerson can do as an everyday player. They could also choose to allocate the $15 million they would have owed Cuddyer to areas much more helpful to the team, such as in the rotation and behind the plate. Jeff Bridich deserves kudos for essentially trading Cuddyer for a first-round pick, and the whole situation serves as a friendly reminder about overreacting despite not knowing all the details.

As large as the percentage might seem, very few of the many Rockies fans throughout the region thought retaining Cuddyer was a bad idea. You can question their baseball savviness, sure, but it's undeniable that Cuddyer was a fan favorite in Colorado.

Just as he was in Minnesota, and just how he'll be in New York.