It has long been rumored that Troy Tulowitzki and the Colorado Rockies would eventually part ways. For his part, Tulo has done little to quell the speculation. Instead, he may have just added more fuel to the fire.
A leader in the Rockies’ clubhouse and baseball’s current leader in batting average (.340), Tulo spoke to the Denver Post on Wednesday, the underlying message being that the team’s perpetual losing ways have begun to wear on the slugger.
"I think that's why I came out numerous times and said I want to win," said Tulowitzki. "It doesn't mean I want out of here. It means I'm sick and tired of losing.”
At 45-68, the Rockies own the worst record in the National League; sitting only a half game “behind” the Texas Rangers for the worst mark in all of baseball. They are 19 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, and did nothing at the trade deadline to inspire any confidence in future improvement.
The 29-year-old Tulowitzki is currently on the DL with a hip flexor strain, but took batting practice for the first time since getting hurt on Wednesday. His return may help the Rockies some, but the team’s problems run much deeper than Tulo’s current injury.
While he was a late season call up in 2006, Tulowitzki didn't become a full-time MLB player until 2007. With the shortstop in the fold full-time, the Rockies have only had 3 winning seasons, have only made the playoffs twice and have yet to win their division. During that time, they have a record of 595-653.
During that time however, they have eclipsed 2 million fans in attendance in each year (a more than respectable number), currently sitting only 25,000 away from surpassing the threshold for the 21st time in their 22 seasons.
From Larry Walker to Matt Holliday, the Rockies have never shied away from trading beleaguered stars with big contracts. Tulowitzki most certainly fits the bill. After this season, Tulo will still have six years and $114 million remaining on his contract, with a $15 million team option for a seventh season.
The gap between team and player also appears to be widening. Late last month, the Rockies gave out replica jerseys to honor the All-Star shortstop. Apparently, they forgot to spell-check, as the 15,000 souvenirs read “Tulowizki”; omitting the second “t”.
Errors are a part of baseball, hence their place on ballpark scoreboards across the country. If this was an isolated incident, then all could be forgiven. It’s not. Yesterday, the team made the same mistake with a different player; leaving the second “a” out of Arenado in another botched promotion. Yet another stitch in what has become a pattern of poor organizational behavior.
While the actions of the Rockies (both on and off the field) may not bode well for the team’s relationship with Tulowitzki; the shortstop has played his part in the drama as well. On July 27, the day after Tulo’s name was misspelled by the only franchise he has ever known, he was spotted at Yankee Stadium; taking in the Bronx Bombers’ game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Back east for a visit with Dr. William Myers, Tulowitzki made the trek from Philadelphia to New York in order to see Derek Jeter, a player that he idolizes, one last time. While his intention may have been innocent enough, the perception of many was anything but. Perhaps it was foreshadowing.
This past offseason, the Rockies’ biggest addition was a party deck at Coors Field. Win or lose, they are successful at the box office. With butts in seats regardless, there is not much incentive for them to become successful on the field.
If winning does matter as much to Tulowitzki as he seems to suggest, it may be time for him to move on from the Mile High City