Besieged by injuries, and plagued by poor pitching and inconsistent offense, the Rockies have sunk near the bottom of the National League West as the all-star break nears.
Owner Dick Monfort predicted his club could win 90 games this season — but only if the Rockies remained healthy. That hasn't happened, of course. The Rockies are just trying to stay afloat until they get some of their frontline players back.
After Tuesday night's victory against San Diego, the Rockies were in next-to-last place in the National League West with a 38-53 record. Monfort sat down with The Denver Post before Tuesday's game to discuss the state of the franchise:
Q: What's your general assessment of your team? There has been a ton of injuries, but even given that, do you think this team has underperformed?
Monfort: "Absolutely. Our record is awful. You guys were quick to point out that we would win 90 games — or pointed out that I said that. I thought, with a little luck, we could win 90 games. Now we are (15 games) below .500, and that doesn't work. We have had some health issues, maybe more than normal. But we also built, we thought, enough extra pitching to where we could weather some of this. The injuries haven't helped, but I'm not blaming this on injuries. We haven't played real well."
Q: Considering you are near last place in the National League West and have finished in last place the past two years, if you don't rebound, would you consider major changes to the front office and an overhaul of the organization?
Monfort: "We'll look at it. We look at it every year, and we talk amongst everybody. What are we getting done? What do we need to do? We are a draft-and-development organization, so we've got to make sure we have the right people doing that. We've got to make sure we are getting the right personnel for the major-league level. I think we all think we are. But something isn't equating. It's not adding up, so we will look at it, but we look at it every year."
Q: Specifically, fans want to know about (general manager) Dan O'Dowd and (assistant GM) Bill Geivett. What is your stance on Dan these days?
Monfort: "I have stuck behind both of them. I think they are really good baseball people. I think, if you are looking to make a change, there has got to be a better option. I am criticized by you guys for saying (O'Dowd) is a good baseball man. But I think Dan does a good job. I like the team we have out here. I liked the team in spring training. Why it's not performing? I don't have the answers."
Q: You gave manager Walt Weiss a three-year extension worth about $2 million before this season. Can you assess his performance?
Monfort: "I think he's growing. I think he's grown into the role. He had never managed anything except high school before he started with us. I love (the way he) battles. He's a winner. That's the type of guy that needs to be your manager. I wouldn't say he's growing any faster or any slower than I thought he would. But 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."
Q: The Arizona Diamondbacks hired Tony La Russa to come in and take a look at their organization. Nobody is quite sure what the role is. Would you considering doing something like that to bring a fresh perspective to this organization?
Monfort: "We talk to a lot of people. Dan and Geivett, between them, talk to every GM in the game. They've talked to a lot of managers in the game and a lot of ex-managers in the game. Walt has a great relationship with Tony.
"If there was someone there that I thought could really give us a good evaluation, I would sure sit down and talk to them. I'm like you, I'm not quite sure what (La Russa) has. All I have seen that has happened is that they have traded two pitchers, just recently.
"I will probably reach out to the Diamondbacks and see how that's working. Maybe (La Russa) is just getting the lay of the land and there is more to come later."
Q: There is a lot of talk about Troy Tulowitzki as the All-Star Game nears. Would you consider trading him at any point this season, or in the offseason?
Monfort: "Where is all of this talk? I have read some stuff, but I haven't heard anything about him wanting to leave or us wanting to get rid of him. I don't have any plans of doing any of that."
Q: Tulo has said he has not approached you about a trade. But what if he does?
Monfort: "Why don't we wait until he does do that?"
Q: The same question about Carlos Gonzalez.
Monfort: "Same answer. I haven't talked to CarGo. All I know is that they love it here. Most offensive players do. I assume they are happy (here), but none of us is happy with losing. None of us. But there is nobody more disgusted about losing than I am. It's a direct reflection on my leadership, and I shoulder that. This isn't Dan (O'Dowd's) problem. This isn't (Bill) Geivett's problem. This is my problem. And for the life of me, I don't know how our record got to be where it is."
Q: What is the biggest piece for this team to turn the corner?
Monfort: I think we have to have a lot of starting pitching. I think we've got to have the ability to cut down the amount of time that these guys pitch at home. So that means that you've got to have more than five starting pitchers.
"You've got to have pitchers in the minor leagues that you can bring up for a spot start or a couple of weeks, or something like that. So I think we need a lot of starting pitching.
"I was talking to Dan yesterday. I would love to have another starting pitcher before the trade deadline. If we could find the right guy, the right dynamic, somebody that we could have control over for a period of time.
"You can't go get somebody like (Jeff) Samardzija. I mean, we were even interested in that, even though you only had control for a year and two months. But the asking price was Eddie Butler and some other stuff. Well there is no reason to give up an Eddie Butler, to get a guy for a year and two months.
"But we are going to see if we can't find somebody who might fit our needs, before the deadline."
Q: At this point, are you sellers or buyers?
Monfort: "No (not sellers)."
Q: You don't anticipate trading Jorge De La Rosa?
Monfort: "No, De La Rosa has pitched great, and he pitches great here. I mean, we are going to do everything we can to keep him here. He's won our last three."
Q: What about Michael Cuddyer? He's hurt, his contract is up and he might not play again this year. He said he hasn't talked to the Rockies. I know how much you like him, but he's also 35 year old.
Monfort: "I think his agent had talked to Dan or Geivo, one of the two. He has interest in staying, he'd like to stay — and this was before the injury. I would like to figure out a way to keep him. He brings value to this team."
Q: The Dodgers have a payroll of about $239 million, you have a payroll of about $94 million. Given the amount of money the Dodgers spend, do you think that Rockies or the Diamondbacks or the Padres can compete with them for an NL West title?
Monfort: Probably not today, because all of their guys are still in the playable ages. But whenever you have some of these long contracts, pretty soon you get to the Alex Rodriguez stage where they are not bringing the value anymore. Then it's a lot of wasted money, so to speak.
"I sort of figured it out in my mind the other day that the four starting pitchers that (the Dodgers) ran out against us, make about the same amount of money as our entire payroll. It would be close. It may not be as much, but it was damn close. Anytime you can run out five pitchers like that, you get things rolling your way."
Q: You said that the losing really bothers you and that it can't all be attributed to injuries. Do you think your lack of ability to rebound, so far, exposed a lack of depth on this team? Is that fair?
Monfort: The guy that really hurt us was (losing) Nolan Arenado. Because he brings so much value defensively and he has a good bat, he's a clutch hitter and he's only in his second year. If you have a third baseman that can field, and can hit, then he's not going to be at Triple-A. He's going to be in the big leagues somewhere. That was just a tough one to get over.
"At one point and time, I think we were about eight games under .500, and I looked back over the last 20 days where we were missing Nolan, and I think there were at least four games, with Nolan in there, that we could have won. And that's just from the defensive side. We had some sloppy play over there, but other teams do, too. (Missing) Nolan really hurt us.
"I think Dickey (Corey Dickerson) has filled in well for CarGo, but he's not a CarGo. And it takes away the flexibility of putting three left-handed hitting outfielders out there.
"The same thing with Cuddyer. I think we have filled in well in the outfield, but his (injury) takes away the dynamic of playing Cuddy at first base, or going with three right-handed outfielders. It really cuts back on your flexibility.
"And then losing starting pitching, of course, that hurt a lot. I think we may — knock on wood — have found that Tyler Matzek is ready to take the next step. I hope he is. So you find some things out that are good. But we just have to keep foraging forward. Right now, I think our confidence is just shot. And we have to get that back."
Q: Do you think, realistically, you can get back in the playoff hunt? Not the division, probably, but the wild-card hunt?
Monfort: I think so. Our schedule is a lot easier the second half. June was a brutal schedule. I mean, we played Milwaukee home and away. We played Washington there. We played St. Louis here. We played the Dodgers two or three times. We played San Francisco out there. So it was a brutal schedule and it seemed like we faced good pitching every night.
"And now we are going to get some people back. I haven't given up. I'm frustrated as hell, but I haven't given up."
Patrick Saunders: email@example.com or twitter.com/psaundersdp