10/08/07 9:35 PM ET
Monfort a believer from the beginning
Rockies chairman, CEO has seen players win on every level
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Monfort felt winning surrounded the Rockies. The Rockies had a team finish at least one half-season in first place at the Double-A level four of the previous five years. There was a league championship and another first-place finish at advanced Class A.
Eventually, all those guys would be Rockies, Monfort figured. That winning had to make a difference. A homegrown set of players that won in the Minors has thus far been winning in the big stage. The Rockies will face the Diamondbacks in the National League Championship Series starting Thursday at 5:37 p.m. MST.
"That's what sort of upset me about the media when they said, 'You get into this thing where you're used to losing,'" Monfort said. "Well, guess what? We've got a bunch of guys that have never, ever been used to losing. That's all they are, winners.
"You bring guys in from winning environments and say, 'We're going to turn this thing around.' God bless us. God bless them. It's happening. It's just because of their beliefs. They're just confident guys that know that they're not losers. They're winners."
While sweeping the Phillies in the NL Division Series, the Rockies started seven players, including the starting pitcher, who had been drafted and developed by the club.
That figure included all three starting pitchers -- left-hander Jeff Francis, who has led the team in wins for the last three seasons, plus lefty Franklin Morales and righty Ubaldo Jimenez, who were both promoted late in the season because of injuries.
The Rockies have started as many as three first-round Draft choices -- Francis (2002), first baseman Todd Helton (1995) and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2005). Left fielder and NL Most Valuable Player candidate Matt Holliday, third baseman Garrett Atkins, center fielder Ryan Spilborghs and right fielder Brad Hawpe were reared as Rockies.
Also, righty Manny Corpas, who earned saves in all three games, was a product of the Latin American program, as were Morales and Jimenez.
The good news, Monfort said, is fans can expect to get used to this crew.
"That's what it's all about, building from within and using guys like Brian Fuentes [a standout reliever acquired from the Mariners] and guys we've supplemented our Draft picks with," Monfort said. "This is a darn good team, and everybody's going to start figuring that out.
"Will we go forward with them? Absolutely. I don't see this team changing except for a piece here or there."
Monfort may feel vindicated, but even he admits being taken aback by the club's improbable sprint to the postseason.
"I'm the guy that's kept saying we'd win the West every year," said Monfort, not feeling bad that he missed on that prediction as the Rockies entered the playoffs as the NL Wild Card. "I've always thought they were good, even when we were nine games below .500. But I didn't think they were this good until we got on that hot streak. My wife and I, we started to follow them all around.
"You could see it in their eyes in mid July, late July. These guys started saying, 'We're pretty good.' Then you go through their history and see that none of them have ever lost. I knew we had something special."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.