DENVER (AP) – His team mired in another midsummer nosedive, Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort had seen enough and was finally going to do something about it.
So, he fired off some emails — to complaining customers.
The Rockies’ 96-loss season will be remembered for many blunders and missteps, none bigger than in July when Monfort went so far as to say that if the fans weren’t happy with the bad baseball they were witnessing that maybe they shouldn’t come to Coors Field. And that perhaps the city wasn’t deserving of a major league team anymore. He later softened his stance.
Monfort himself had raised expectations by predicting a 90-win season in the spring. Instead, the team endured a fourth consecutive losing season.
Colorado started out rather promising – tied for first in the NL West on May 7 – before a freefall left the Rockies scrambling to avoid 100 losses. A late six-game win streak allowed them to pass Arizona and escape the cellar, finishing 28 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“We didn’t perform to the expectations we had on ourselves,” said Michael Cuddyer, an impending free agent. “Do we want to lose 100 games? By no means, no. Do we want to lose 90? No. All you can do is keep going.”
The convenient excuse for how this season turned so sideways could be ailments.
After all, the Rockies lost Troy Tulowitzki (hip) and Carlos Gonzalez (knee) to season-ending injuries and watched three different starting pitchers sidelined by broken hands, including Brett Anderson while batting.
The rash of aches and pains only served to highlight this: The team’s ballyhooed farm system wasn’t ready to produce major league talent. A turnstile of new pitching prospects kept coming up from the minors, but few really stood out.
And for however disgruntled the fans were, they still kept showing up. The Rockies (66-96) had more than 2.6 million fans walk through the gates.
Jorge De La Rosa was about the only constant in a rotation that featured more than a dozen starters. That included prized right-hander Eddie Butler, who landed on the disabled list with an inflamed his rotator cuff and didn’t make it back into the rotation until late in the season.
“We’ve had a lot of weird injuries this season. It’s been a fluke, but that’s part of baseball,” said Tyler Matzek, who made his major league debut this season.
Colorado especially struggled away from its hitter friendly ballpark, going 21-60. When asked about his team’s road woes, manager Walt Weiss jokingly said, “We don’t have enough time for that subject.”
“We haven’t had a quick strike on the road that we’ve had at Coors Field,” Weiss added. “At times, we have played very poorly this year.”
Just about everything that could go wrong for the Rockies pretty much did. Things like the team handing out jerseys with Tulowitzki’s name spelled “Tulowizki” in a giveaway gaffe. Or Christian Friedrich unleashing a bases-loaded wild pitch that cleared the bases against Milwaukee. Or even a water-main break outside the park that led to a postponement without a cloud in the sky.
They also were overpowered by Clayton Kershaw – really, though, who wasn’t – when the Dodgers ace bottled up the Rockies during a no-hitter on June 18.
Even when things went well, there was a shadow cast over it. Justin Morneau won the NL batting title (.319), but wasn’t in the starting lineup for the season finale to protect his average. Morneau edged Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison, who was hitless in four at-bats Sunday and slipped three points to close at .315.
“I’m proud of what Justin accomplished,” Weiss said of Morneau, who captured Rockies’ second straight batting title as Cuddyer led the NL last season (.331). “He’s been a great story.”
Everything else was a sad story at 20th and Blake.
“It’s been hard, of course,” said Gonzalez, who hopes to be ready by spring straining. “I’m trying to concentrate on my rehab. Get healthy and thinking about the future. The present is pretty ugly.”
– By Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer
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