Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Polarizing Colorado Rockies must ride momentum

Forty games into the 2011 season and one thing is certain. This Colorado Rockies team is not average.

Through the first 20 games of the season, the Rockies were the best team in baseball. Without hitting on all cylinders, the team was finding ways to win and bringing hope to a fan base that has watched the team struggle out of the gate in four straight seasons.

The next 20 games, however, were the exact opposite of the first 20 games. The Rockies couldn't find a way to win games. Their prized offense struggled to hit the ball against even the most pedestrian starters. On the few occasions that the offense did succeed, the defense or bullpen failed.

What we know through 40 games is this. The Rockies are not going to be a .500 team. They are going to either play really well, or really poorly, depending on which way the momentum swings.

Part of the reason for the swings has to be due to the up-and-down play of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. When those guys are getting on base, the team is scoring runs and winning games. When those guys struggle at the plate, the rest of the lineup can't seem to pick up the slack.

If this team is subject to big swings, then it is important for them to make the most of their hot streaks. That means not being worried about who their opponent is.

Case in point comes on Wednesday, as the Rockies travel to Philadelphia to play the much-hyped Phillies. The Rockies are coming off of a huge two-game sweep of the Giants. In May, there will never be two bigger games than the Rockies played to begin the week.

The Rockies must not have a let down following a big series with the Giants. They must use the wins as a spring board to launch them into the latest hot streak that gives them some breathing room once again in the National League West.

If they suffer a hangover from the series, they are in danger of another crippling road trip much like they suffered in Arizona and San Francisco two weeks ago.

The fact is, championship teams find ways to win against good teams. They don't worry about who is taking the mound for the opposition. Winning teams have a swagger and a confidence that it doesn't matter who the other team is, that they are good enough to beat them on any given night, regardless of the pitcher on the mound.

If the Rockies want to take the next step and become a contender, rather than just a team that has the potential to get hot, then they must find a way to win on the road, and they must not be intimidated by big-name teams and big-name pitchers.

The good news for the Rockies in Philadelphia is that they don't have to face Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay. They face lefty Cole Hamels, who the Rockies have handled in the past, and right-hander Joe Blanton, who is the "other guy" in a highly touted rotation.

The Rockies need to find a way to keep the bats going and pick up some wins on a tough road trip.

6 comments:

  1. It is funny David. Just two short days ago the Rockies were on their way out with a horrible bullpen and on a downward spiral to fall way short of even making the post season. Now they are world beaters again and destined to make a run in October. As I said before sit tight Rockies fans this thing could go either way but know this. There is enough talent on this team to run away and hide in this division and time will only tell. Every team in the majors has its holes and has its strengths. The big question Rockies fan should be asking themselves is. When the other teams make their trades and pick ups at the deadline. Will the Rockies stand pat as usual or make that move to improve the team and fill the holes in the bullpen and third base etc. The answer to that question is very simple. I encourage every die hard and closet Rocky fan to fill that park up every night and don't just wait till September and look at the standings and go maybe we should attend a game. It is paramount that you fill the stadium full every night and give the ownership the revenue and no excuse not to make a move to improve down the stretch and make this thing a runaway division winner. Come on Rockies fans lets make this a top ten baseball city in America and bring home some tiles.

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  2. John R-
    "JIM TRACY MANAGES ROCKIES INTO TWO CONSECUTIVE WINS!!" David, shouldn't that be the headline for today's blog? You have been pretty scathing in your analysis and have (by my count) blamed Tracy directly for at least three losses. I think it smacks too much of "20-20 hindsight." Hey, it's your blog and far be it from me to tell you what to write, but I DO think that you've overdone this theme at times. I think that all Tracy can do is put his guys in the best position to succeed (and that IS something he considers a lot) but some of the time it doesn't work out. This is just my observation, and maybe it isn't right, but it seems to me that back when Tulo was a rook', your formula for managing would have only let him struggle for a few days and then you'd have sent him back to the minors. Same thing with Cargo two years ago. I think that there are times when you just have to let them play for fifty games to give them a real shot. Willie Mays was like that- and we all know what happened there. I think that it actually comes down to preferring Casey Stengel to Sparky Anderson. Stengel was the guy who "invented" platooning ( L vrs. R) and Sparky was a "seat of the pants" style manager who managed pretty damn well by instinct. I'd rather have Casey, and I think that Tracy's like that. (Of course you could probably foil my argument by citing another "percentage" guy- Gene Mauch, but I'd counter with John McNamara! lol) I don't know what to think of the Rox so far, but I HOPE that they become a team which thrives on "bucking the averages." By that I mean that they take a lot of pride in beating both Linsacum and Sanchez in that short series. I hope that they are a little peeved that they don't get to face Halliday. I think that that kind of chip on the shoulder is really what makes a championship attitude.

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  3. I agree completely with your post. I think we all hoped that this year's team would be a little different than in past years with the big winning and losing streaks. I would be much happier as a fan if they consistently went along winning 2 out of every 3, slowly pushing the record to 20 or 25 games above .500 like a juggernaut. But that is not our Rockies team. They are a schizophrenic ball club. When they are playing well they look like the 1927 Yankees. And then in a blink of an eye they fall apart and do everything wrong. I think we as fans have to accept that and have faith and hope that the winning streaks outweigh the losing streaks, and they make as much hay as possible when the sun is shining.

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  4. Concerned CitizenMay 18, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    Miketober,

    Please put down the crack pipe! Did you just compare the 2011 Rockies to the 27 Yankees? Remember admitting it is half the problem.

    http://www.bettyfordcenter.org/index.php

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  5. Michael-
    I think you are agreeing with me. I am saying that they must maximize the times when they are playing hot, and minimize when they are cold. Im not saying they are a shoe in for the postseason by any means.

    John-
    I do my best to be positive, but it is hard for me not to blame Jim Tracy when he continuously goes back to the same ineffective relievers when he has better options. When Tracy wins a game for the club, I will give him credit, but the previous two games were about Carlos Gonzalez, not Tracy. Sure, he deserves some credit, he did a great job, but he wasn't the story. The three games that I do believe that he lost for the club, he was the story.

    I always appreciate comments. Keep em coming!

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  6. Concerned Citizen, read my post again. I don't think you read it very carefully or thought about what I was saying before your extremely clever reply.

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