The Colorado Rockies have won the first playoff series in their history. The Rockies and Phillies clashed in the NLDS in a matchup of two red-hot, offensive-minded teams. But the Rockies pitching was the story in this series, cooling off the likes of Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and especially Chase Utley.
What can the Mets learn from the Rockies?
Rockies: They are winning with homegrown players in their prime. Players under thirty like Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe, and Troy Tulowitzki. They have veterans like Todd Helton and Yorvit Torrealba, but these guys are not the centerpieces of the offense. They are the strong supporting cast.
Mets: In the Mets lineup, young is the exception. After David Wright and Jose Reyes, the Mets had to rely on Carlos Delgado, Jose Valentin, Damion Easley, Luis Castillo, Moises Alou, Shawn Green, Paul Lo Duca, and Carlos Beltran, all 30 or older.
Rockies: They have a strong bench. Jeff Baker drove in the game winner in the NLDS clincher, and Cory Sullivan and Ryan Spilborghs were able to fill in for the injured Willy Taveras.
Mets: The Mets are pretty good in this department. Marlon Anderson, Ramon Castro, and company did yeoman’s work off the bench.
Rockies: They can catch the ball. They are statistically the best defense in the National League this year.
Mets: To be fair, the Mets were OK here most of the season. But 21 errors from David Wright? 10 combined errors in 2 crucial games down the stretch?
Rockies: They are winning with a great bullpen, led by homegrown Manny Corpas, and veteran Brian Fuentes, who has seen plenty of lean years in Denver.
Mets: They had a bunch of guys who complained about being overworked, even though only one reliever threw more than 70 innings – Aaron Heilman, their most effective setup man.
Rockies: They are winning with young starting pitching. Jeff Francis has been good all year, Ubaldo Jimenez stepped in mid-season, and looks like he’s going to be a good pitcher for a long time. Aaron Cook is out with an injury, but a guy like Franklin Morales was able to step in and fill the void.
Mets: They relied on veteran pitching. In fact, "veteran" is an understatement. Did I see El Duque head out to the mound with a cane this year? Pedro is having trouble keeping his shoulder on, and Tom Glavine really acted his age at times this year.
Rockies: They are winning because they made smart off-season moves. They traded their top starting pitcher, Jason Jennings, to the Astros for Taveras and top pitching prospect Taylor Buchholz. They were criticized for this at the time, but Buchholz came of age as the season wore on, and Taveras batted .320, and sparked this great offense. Jason Jennings? He went 2-9 with a 6.45 ERA in an injury-plagued season for the miserable Houston Astros.
Mets: You know the drill. Bradford and Oliver are gone, Schoeneweis and Sele are here, and they failed to pick up a top starting pitcher before the season.
Rockies: They are winning because they play the game right. Unlike a lot of major leaguers, and just about everyone on the Mets, when they hit the ball, they run. They don’t look to see where the ball is going first.
Mets: When the Mets hit the ball they look to see where the ball is, then use the following criteria to decide whether or not to run. If the ball is:
A) heading toward a fielder, don’t run.
B) heading toward the outfield wall, and has at least a slight chance to go out, don’t run.
C) heading towards the gap, or a hole in the infield, run.
These reasons are why the Rockies are in the playoffs and rolling, and Mets are at home watching it on TV. I hope they are paying attention.