When a team is struggling and falling far behind in the standings, its players will often invoke the Colorado Rockies, the team most famous for coming out of nowhere to make it to the World Series. Players on these fading teams inevitably suggest they could become the new Rockies. But few do.
The Mets were saying it for the longest time before they finally stopped saying it. Then a few days ago, the Cubs'
That's the new drill, though. Every team that's an early disappointment is on the verge of becoming the new Rockies in their minds. But guess what?
This year's Rockies are, in fact, the Rockies.
The Rockies are the team that again made a sudden turn after appearing to be on the road to oblivion back in May. They are repeating history, once again coming out of nowhere. They are again clearing every hurdle in establishing themselves as the wild-card favorite in a wild National League derby (and suddenly a definite contender in the division race).
A lot of folks are surprised about the turnaround. Though, not all. "They are solid in all areas," one competing GM notes. "They have solid starting pitching that's a little underrated. They have a deep lineup that matches up well, left and right. It's not a team that has a weakness."
But man, does it have a strength or two. While de facto ace
Their player development system, under oddly anonymous executive
Overall, the Rockies rotation has more quality starts than anyone, with 77, a stunning stat for team that used to be swallowed up by Coors Field. But if the humidor changed the Coors game, it was the succession of smart moves that made the Rockies a surprise contender.
Tracy established a couple more definitive roles, and it's worked wonders. For one, he moved long-forgotten
All of 24, Tulo is a bona fide comeback candidate. And longtime star
That makes sense. This, after all, is the team that's known for comebacks.
O'Dowd and Dodgers GM
Colletti, Sabean's former top lieutenant up in San Francisco, has done a consistently good job lately without a typical big-market payroll. He has a mutual option in his contract for 2010, meaning both sides have to exercise it for him to return under that salary. He's got one of the toughest jobs in baseball working for
O'Dowd's deal is also up. But one competing GM said, "I would be shocked if they didn't offer him an extension.. (The Colorado bosses) seem pretty happy with the state of the franchise."
As well they should be.
On the very day the Mets announced
Wagner originally had reservations about going to the Red Sox in part because he worried that he'd be pressed beyond his capabilities while pitching for a contender only 11 months removed from Tommy John surgery. But he was sweet-talked into going by the Red Sox, who explained to him that they'd be careful with him. Which, incidentally, is the way they treat all their pitchers.
It was curious that Wagner thought he'd have a better chance of staying healthier with the Mets, who seem jinxed now. The news has been so bad that word that Santana only needed arthroscopic surgery to remove elbow chips that would knock him until next year was taken as a relief (he won't need Tommy John surgery and will be good to go next spring).
Wagner did well to get back from Tommy John surgery three or four months quicker than normal. And though he hesitated at first, he made the right call to go to Boston, which agreed not to pick up his $8 million option for next season. While the Red Sox didn't agree to guarantee that they would decline arbitration for Wagner as the reliever originally requested, he still understood it's better to showcase himself on a contender than the Mets.
Though this is mostly speculation, there's an outside chance, too, the Red Sox could wind up keeping Wagner and dealing incumbent closer
That fits into a theory going around the game that the Red Sox might be tiring of Papelbon's act and could consider using Wagner as closer next year, with relief prodigy
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• As if Cy Young candidate
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