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It’s safe to say that this is a lost year when it comes to baseball in the Mile High City, but that doesn’t mean the Colorado Rockies will be mired in ineffectuality forever. As the saying goes, “Wait ’til next year.”
Any Rox fan knows that the team always considered this season a bridge to better things. So does that mean we can look forward to a promising season in 2013?
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To answer that, we asked Rafael Rojas Cremonesi, a writer from the Rockies blog Purple Row. Among other topics, he touched on star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, fans in Denver, and what to do with Rockies’ legend Todd Helton.
5280: First things first. The Rockies majority owner has said that he’s solidly behind general manager Dan O’Dowd despite the team’s poor showing this year. If this team continues to underwhelm, does that position get reconsidered?
Rojas Cremonesi: The Monforts tell us that he’s here to stay. Of course, they’re business people, and they want to be successful. If there’s not much success next year, maybe they consider letting him go at some point, but I don’t see anything that would show that.
I think the Monforts look at what [O’Dowd] got in the Matt Holliday trade and that he’s given Colorado some great players. Carlos Gonzalez wouldn’t be here without O’Dowd. The team has been to the postseason twice with O’Dowd here. That’s how they see it, and they’re the ones who make the decisions.
5280: But isn’t that frustrating for fans? Those two postseason appearances are out of 13 years.
Rojas Cremonesi: I can understand why it’s frustrating. But Denver fans are extremely patient.
I met a season-ticket-holder the other day and he seemed very understanding. He talked about how hard it was to play baseball and how lucky we are to just have a team. I think that’s an attitude that a lot of fans have here. You don’t have the culture here like you do in St. Louis or in New York.
But, honestly, to get that kind of culture, you need a team that’s been around for a 100 years. This is still a young [franchise]. Plus, the Colorado mentality is more laid back. In this city, you can argue that the Rockies are the number-three team. It’s “Hey, the Rockies are losing, but Peyton Manning is going to play for the Broncos. Want to watch a baseball game and have a fun time?” People come to games because the team plays in a gorgeous stadium. I think, too, that guys like Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki are easy to root for.
5280: I guess so is Todd Helton. But he’s nowhere near the player he once was, and he was losing time at first base before he went down with an injury. What happens to him at the season’s end?
Rojas Cremonesi: He’s still under contract for one more year, but the Rockies have to been looking at alternatives. Helton says he’s OK.
You’ve got to think that Michael Cuddyer is an alternative at first base, as is Tyler Colvin. Looking down the road, I think the practical person there would be Cuddyer. Maybe next year you see a Helton-Cuddyer tandem at first base, but I don’t think the Rockies would tell anyone that right now because everybody wants Helton to retire under his own conditions.
5280: So things could be up in the air for awhile?
Rojas Cremonesi: If you’ve been paying attention to the team recently, you see that the Rockies are trying to change up the lineup. The past couple of weeks, you can see that the team is already looking at every option.
They brought in Josh Rutledge, who has looked pretty good filling in at short stop. I love that kid, and down the road, he might be a second baseman on this team. The more I see of Ruttledge, the more I like him. He’s got smooth hands, great infield play. He has an elegance about his game. I think he’s someone fans could get excited about.
5280: Third base is a place where the Rockies haven’t gotten the output they might have wanted. If the team is committed to shaking things up—and Ruttledge looks so good—wouldn’t putting Tulowitzki at third make some sense?
Rojas Cremonesi: I’d agree with that. I think a move to third base would be a great way to prolong Tulo’s career, but the team looks at Troy Tulowitzki as its starting shortstop for a long time. If Tulo doesn’t want to move, he doesn’t have to.
5280: Infield play is the not the team’s biggest concern, though. Right?
Rojas Cremonesi: I think they’re looking at what they need to do with the pitching staff. They’re wondering whether [Drew] Pomeranz and [Alex] White, and [Christian] Friedrich are going to be able to pick up the slack next year.
The team went to the four-man rotation, which has been interesting. I think pitching in Colorado needs to be handled differently than in any other major-league city. At the same time, I think next year, the pitchers need to know exactly what their roles are in this. If you have some stability, and people know what they are going to be doing on a day-to-day basis, I think that’s going to serve the team better.
5280: Don’t you sometimes wish that the club would scrap the humidor and go back to those 11-10 games, where you didn’t need to care about pitching?
Rojas Cremonesi: No way. I’d never turn the humidor off.
For me, the games would be an aberration. I don’t want to see 13-11 games that last for four hours. There’s nothing more boring that sitting there for four hours and watching a slugfest. Home runs might be sexy, but going back to that would make for some long, dull games.