Troy Tulowitzki: The Next Cal Ripken Jr.?

James Stewart-MeudtCorrespondent IIDecember 1, 2010

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 25:  Troy Tulowitzki #2 of the Colorado Rockies hits a two run homerun to give the Rockies a 5-4 lead over the San Francisco Giants in the fifth inning at Coors Field on September 25, 2010 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Colorado Rockies have 20/20 vision. They see what they have and want to make sure they keep it.

What do they have?

They have Troy Tulowitzki.

The Colorado Rockies and Tulowitzki have agreed on a new seven-year, $134 million contract which will lock up their star shortstop through the 2020 season.

"I'm really lucky," Tulowitzki said. "I can't wait to be here my entire career."

This mega-deal, the eighth-highest in baseball, gives Tulowitzki a chance to do something very few players do—play his entire season with one team. Just like his idol, Cal Ripken Jr.

Ripken, of course, played his entire 21-year career with the Baltimore Orioles and holds the major league record for consecutive games played (2,632).

Tulowitzki should be honored to have his name anywhere near the same sentence as Ripken's, let alone have a chance to have their careers mirror one another.

Last season, despite missing 33 games due to a wrist injury, Tulowitzki, 26, won his first Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger and hit .315 with 27 homers and 97 RBIs.

The Rockies had already locked Tulo up through the 2013 season, having signed him to a six-year, $31 million contract in 2008. But this new contract is a monster.

Only Alex Rodriguez's two contracts ($275 million and $252 million), Derek Jeter ($189 million), Joe Mauer ($184 million), Mark Teixeira ($180 million), CC Sabbathia ($161 million) and Manny Ramirez ($160 million) have had bigger contracts.

The contract is not without risks however, for both sides. Tulowitzki will be 35 at the end of the contract and hasn't played in more than 155 games in his five seasons with the Rockies.

However, he leads all major league shortstops in RBIs since 2007, his first full season, and was the first shortstop to lead the league in slugging percentage (.568) and fielding percentage (.984) since the Pirates' Jay Bell in 1993.

Tulowitzki's contract may also create some financial problems for the Rockies when it comes time to negotiate with ace Ubaldo Jimenez and OF Carlos Gonzalez.

Despite the potential risks, the Rockies are confident in their decision. The fans should be too.

They now have a player who is set up to be the face of the franchise for the next 10 years. They have a guy who will put people in the seats and be the cornerstone of what is the best offense in the NL West.

Do the Rockies have their own Cal Ripken Jr.? We'll have to wait and see. Tulowitzki has never played a full 162 game season without missing time, so it's unlikely he'll get a shot at Ripken's record. But he has a chance now to put his name right next to Ripken's as the face of a franchise for his entire career.