“The Rockies are, after all, a team bejeweled with All-Star talent, one that absolutely drips with potential. But that potential is never realized. Monfort seems to be awakening to the fact that it’s inexcusable.”
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“I’m not blaming this on injuries. We haven’t played real well” – Dick Monfort to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post
For the third straight season the wheels have come completely off for the Colorado Rockies. The team is once again in the basement of the NL West with seemingly little hope of contending for the division at any point in the foreseeable future. Worse, Colorado has the lowest win total in all of baseball. The Rockies are a complete embarrassment to their fans and supporters and it’s beginning to become clear that the club’s visible owner, Dick Monfort, feels the same way.
Dick Monfort has gotten some media exposure this week. To his credit he, unlike his brother Charlie, his General Manager Dan O’Dowd and his VP Bill Geivett, has made himself available. Monfort spoke to Patrick Saunders and Mark Kiszla, both of the Denver Post, and revealed his own frustration with the Rockies’ failure to capitalize on a season that began with the club looking hopeful and has devolved into one that looks just like the miserable campaigns of the past few years. Mark Kiszla described Monfort’s demeanor this way: “Exhaling slowly, Monfort mentioned something about not wanting any pity. But the 60-year-old owner of the Rockies looked so sad, that swear to goodness, I thought he might cry.” During the lengthy Q&A Monfort offered up to Patrick Saunders he said: “this spell that we’ve been under these last 45 days almost sucks your air out of you. So it’s hard for me to evaluate anything right now.”
Dick is clearly bewildered.
It’s not hard to understand why the owner is so confused. The Rockies are, after all, a team bejeweled with All-Star talent, one that absolutely drips with potential. But that potential is never realized. Monfort seems to be awakening to the fact that it’s inexcusable. Like the rest of us he seems to slowly be discovering that he has been sold a bill of goods by his front office. Monfort told Patrick Saunders: “we also built, we thought, enough extra pitching to where we could weather some of this.” In other words, he was promised by his front office that the Rockies’ system was deep enough not to implode due to injury yet again. It’s not the case.
The injury bug has bitten the Rockies every year. It’s nothing new. But the team has done little to prepare for the inevitable. Dick Monfort can no longer sit idly by and watch his team rot in the cellar. He must make significant changes. Fans know this. The media knows this. It seems like Dick Monfort might finally know this, too.
The winds of change are swirling at 20th and Blake.
No shortage of suggestions have been made as to how the Rockies turn things around. The one thing that continually comes up is that the team hire a new President with the power to hire and fire the front office, strip away the old paint and even dispose of core superstars like Carlos Gonzolez and Troy Tulowitzki. Woody Paige suggested that the club hire Orel Hershiser. Other pundits have pointed to the program that the Astros are following in Houston. Most agree that the Rockies might need to get worse in the short term to be better in the long term.
The question that vexes the Rockies faithful is whether or not Rockies ownership is willing to confront the pain of losing players that are popular with fans in order to begin a comprehensive rebuild. Ticket and concession sales at Coors Field are as strong as they have ever been and profits remain through the roof. The only incentive Dick Monfort has to start fresh is a desire to win. Unless he’s inly manipulating the media, he appears to have one. In his column today Mark Kiszla wrote: “much of the game against San Diego, Monfort sat in the first seat behind the Colorado dugout, his legs tightly crossed and his chin cupped anxiously by his hand. The body language shouted: This man cares so much it’s eating him alive.” Perhaps the time has finally arrived that Monfort’s angst with result in a transformation.
People are cynical about the Rockies – and for good reason. Dick and Charlie Monfort have been loyal to a fault, allowing their ship to keep on sinking for the fifteen years that Dan O’Dowd has been the General Manager. There are few people who believe that Monfort has the intestinal fortitude to bring the hammer down on the franchise. But that’s exactly what I believe he will do. 2014 is the last straw. Not even the Monfort brothers can watch this team degrade for another year. The smell of the fresh cut grass at Coors Field and cold beers on the party deck have kept fans coming through the turn styles but Dick Monfort wants more. He is a man of pride.
Unless the Rockies make a miraculous “Rocktober” style turn around after the All-Star break (and they won’t) I expect Dan O’Dowd and Bill Geivett to be fired, if not by the Monforts by a new Elway-style team President. There is at long last enough smoke to start a fire under Dick Monfort and he seems ready to put some people on the hot seat.