Rockies won’t deal Cuddyer, believe they’re a contender

The Rockies enter the second half four games under .500, but at 4 1/2 games behind the National League West-leading D-backs, which has Rockies owner Dick Monfort believing the team is a contender. That assessment will color the team’s approach to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, even though they tend not to make huge moves.

The Rockies were 35-32 when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki left the lineup with a broken rib. Tulowitzki returned for the final series before the break, and team could improve if he can stay healthy and performs to his current numbers (.332, 16 HRs, 52 RBIs in 64 games).

“You’ve got him back — you don’t know for how long; he’s got a history – but if he stays healthy, yeah I think so,” Monfort said when asked if he believes the Rockies have a shot.

Monfort threw cold water on the suggestion that the club could trade All-Star right fielder Michael Cuddyer.  Speculation during the break was that the Rockies could deal him for an established pitcher, such as the Cubs’ Matt Garza.

“Not a chance,” Monfort said. “You look at how vulnerable we are when we lose ‘Tulo,’ he [Cuddyer] is a right-handed bat,” Monfort said. “Right-handed corner bats with power are pretty important. You put into the mix he’s a guy that has Major League at-bats, and he plays first base.”

Monfort said he could see trading for “the right starting pitcher,” but he said he will not deal key lineup parts or prized prospects. That’s especially true in the case of Garza, who is a free agent at season’s end. Still, there are holes in the rotation. Juan Nicasio threw well in his final start before the break, after a brief demotion to the Minors. Lefty Drew Pomeranz has yet to have a strong start in the Majors this year.

That could mean the Rockies are more in the market for bullpen help. White Sox All-Star right-hander Jesse Crain has been a prime target, but he currently out with a shoulder injury and it isn’t certain if he’ll pitch before the deadline.

“We’re hoping Nicasio stays good, but that still leaves a hole until [veteran Roy] Oswalt comes back [from a hamstring injury], but that’s no given,” Monfort said. “I guess that’s where you’d look first, but bullpen is something else.

“Starting pitchers don’t profile well here. You just never know when you get one of those, a la [Jeremy] Guthrie, a la Jason Marquis.”

Monfort allowed for the possibility that the right starter at the right price could be had closer to the deadline.

“Everybody’s asking price is huge for these pitchers right now,” Monfort said. “You never know what happens [close to the deadline when teams struggle]. Look at San Diego. They went from a buyer to potentially a seller.”

Thomas Harding

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