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Woody Paige: Colorado Rockies can reach 3 million fans, with some help from Carlos Gonzalez

July 4, 2017 Updated: July 5, 2017 at 7:13 am
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Colorado Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez connects for a soft line-out on a pitch from San Francisco Giants starter Jeff Samardzija in the first inning of a baseball game Friday, June 16, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

This is a special statistic:

The Rockies will surpass 1.5 million in attendance this week and could reach 3 million for the first time since 2001.

This is the saddest statistic you and Dick Monfort will read for the first time this season:

The Rockies are paying $42.5 million in 2017 to the worst two hitters in the National League.

Carlos Gonzalez and Jose Reyes are batting a combined .213. The WAR (wins above replacement) for Reyes is an NL lowest -0.9, and Gonzalez is second at -0.8. In the WRC+ advanced metric category, Gonzalez is last in the league at 49.

Mario Mendoza would celebrate. The "Mendoza Line'' was created in dishonor of the former good-field, no-hit major league infielder, who compiled a career average of .215 in nine seasons with three teams.

There were sounds of silence among the almost 50,000 of us at Coors Field as CarGo returned from the disabled list Monday night and went 0 for 4. CarStop4-3 on the scorecard.

The Rockies did win to start the final homestand before the All-Star Game and slow the RoxSlide.

But the Carlos Concern continues. He's the only player remaining from the Rockies' last playoff appearance in 2009, and it's painfully obvious that this could be the veteran's last postseason appearance with the team.

The Rox and their fanatics keep waiting and wishing for CarGo to break out, but 2017 is reminiscent of injury-laden 2014 when he finished with career awful numbers. With a .218 batting average, six homers, 21 runs batted in, an on-base percentage of .295 and a slugging percentage of just .343 before Tuesday night's game, Gonzalez is showing no signs of a streak. He's not carrying the Rockies; they're dragging him.

CarGo is in his ninth season with the Rox and the last year of a contract that pays him $20.5 mil. At least, he doesn't have to worry about being traded before the deadline; nobody else wants him. He does have to be apprehensive about the future. At 31, Carlos won't be brought back by the Rockies, and other clubs won't pay him even half his current rate.

Is this the end for the Valiant Venezuelan?

He still is optimistic, pleasant to talk to and a leader in the clubhouse.

Yet, Gonzo has to be disturbed that his skill and swing set at the plate are all out of whack, and he has been unable to overcome defensive shifts and pitchers' approach to shutting him down. Deep drives have dissipated, replaced by feeble grounders to second. He certainly dropped out of the running for the All-Star team and has been dropped in the Rockies' lineup. How low can he go?

What to do about CarGo?

Manager Bud Black tried resting him for a couple of games and taking him out of the cleanup position. A stint on the 10-day DL with a shoulder issue didn't make a difference. He clearly won't be sent to the minors - although such a move might help his confidence and mechanics. And he can't be a part-time player against right-handed starters. He's not a pinch-hitter or a bench-sitter.

Instead, the Rockies, amid their worst span of the season, encourage Carlos and, like everyone else who cares and cheers for him, long for his long ball again.

The Rockies are in a monetary muddle. Carlos is the highest-paid player on the roster, but not the most expensive item on the payroll. Since they traded Troy Tulowitzki (who also makes $20 mil this season in Toronto), they have wallowed in the contract of Reyes, who is getting only a half-million from the Mets this season, but $22 million from the Rockies.

CarGo's contract is cleared in 2018, and the Monforts will owe Reyes $4 million more. So, then $42.5 mil will be cut from the books. Does Dick Monfort pay it ahead by investing in a couple of veteran pitchers now, or hit the delay button until next year?

The Rockies, with eight sellouts and 17 games with more than 40,000 in LoDo, will go over 3 million if they play meaningful games - as GM Jeff Bridich claims - in August and September, with a bit of support from CarGo.

I've always told Dick: Build a club, and they will come.

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