It wasn't about misspelled giveaway jerseys or a controversial trip to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Troy Tulowitzki's focus was solely on the business, and more specifically what his current employer, the Colorado Rockies, need to do to regain relevancy and become competitive again in the NL West.
In an interview with the Denver Post, Tulowitzki made it clear that he doesn't intend to force the Rockies hand on a trade — although recent actions in New York may have hinted otherwise — but he feels like now is definitely the time for significant changes as the Rockies free fall into their fourth straight losing season.
"I think that's why I came out numerous times and said I want to win," Tulowitzki said. "It doesn't mean I want out of here. It means I'm sick and tired of losing.
"Something needs to change. Hopefully that comes fairly quickly. You can't force it. But at the same time, we're all frustrated with this year — especially me."
He also added.
"That lineup we featured in April, and some of our pitchers being healthy, was good enough to win," Tulowitzki said. "But things kind of fell apart and fell apart quickly.
"But you look at the Red Sox and the things they did, they're kind of the model team. They blew things up and then next year they're right back in contention. So hopefully we can do a little bit of that."
Tulowitzki is in an interesting spot as the guy ownership clearly views as their flagship player and face of the franchise. On one hand, they're in no hurry to trade him, which means he's probably stuck in the situation for at least another season. That's barring an offer that blows the Rockies away during the offseason, but based on their expectations in trade talks for role players in July, that offer might not realistically exist.
On the other hand, if one voice can influence some changes, it might be Tulowitzki's since he's held in such high regard. Given his position, he really has nothing to lose by voicing his opinion and seeing how things proceed.
The issue there, as many who follow the Rockies will point out, is that people being preached to about change are at the root of the problem. Before progress can be made, there will likely need to be change at the ownership level. Principle owner Dick Monfort has been reluctant to make significant changes in his front office and seems to get offended at the mere suggestion. And even if those changes did finally come, there's little confidence Monfort could lead a competent search to find replacements at key positions.
So Tulowitzki's reality, at least for now, is that he's stuck in baseball purgatory. To Monfort, it actually makes more sense to keep Tulowitzki, because he feels like his departure could be a public relations nightmare. There's no clear exit for him there. And as wonderful as a quick Red Sox-like turnaround sounds, it's just not that simple for Colorado. They have nice pieces in Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado to rebuild around, but they don't have a Jon Lester anchoring their rotation and they don't have the financial flexibility or minor-league prospects to make it work without trading from that core.
Which brings us to the ultimate reality. The roster rebuild Colorado needs actually starts with trading Troy Tulowitzki. Gonzalez, too, probably. They are where the biggest returns and most financial flexibility come from. But if or when those days come, they can't afford to miss on either deal, and very few in Colorado will feel comfortable if it's general manager Dan O'Dowd or director of major league operations Bill Geivett making those calls with Monfort looking over their shoulder.
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