In weather more suited for a pack of Siberian huskies than for baseball games, the Rockies pounded the Mets in their three matchups in Denver this week. Walt Weiss and his crew weren’t bothered a bit by the changed series schedule, which featured a postponement Monday, doubleheader Tuesday, postponement Wednesday and ending with the coldest game on record in major league baseball history.
This time last week, the Rox were coming off being swept by the Giants, forcing people to doubt their 5-1 start to the season. They proceeded to turn a likely bad road trip into a good trip, sweeping the Padres and ending the week in California at 3-3.
The purple and black now boast several notable feats. They lead the National League West by two games over the Giants with an 11-4 record and are 6-0 at home, a LoDo start they have never experienced in their previous 19 years of existence.
It’s still really early in the season and you can’t win your division in April. However, I’m beginning to form a possible pattern as to what the Rox need to do in order to stay competitive in the division.
First, continue to bully the average to mediocre teams at home. That means when the Marlins, Brewers, Cubs, Astros and Padres come to town, the Rox need sweeps. Winning two out of three games is often the goal for managers, but for Weiss, he must expect his players to continue to be shaking hands after every home game against bad teams.
Second, figure out a way to win 35 to 40 games on the road. Right now, the Rockies look like they could win at least 55 games in Denver. But fans know they have always struggled mightily on the road, save for 2009. Tulo and company can’t afford any more 1-6 or 2-5 road trips.
Lastly and most importantly, the Rox must start being competitive with great teams. That means they have to knock off the Braves, Nationals and Cardinals on occasion. And no, they can’t lie down anymore against the Giants and Dodgers, whether it’s in Denver or California.
In case you missed it, Derek Jeter is now expected to be out until after the All-Star break with a crack in his ankle. Three weeks ago, phones in the Rockies’ front office would be blowing up with calls to ask about Troy Tulowitzki’s availability.
I wrote last year that if Tulo struggled with ineffectiveness or injury this season, the Rox should look to trade him. I said specifically that the Yankees would be a likely match because of the slowdown of the longtime Yankee captain.
Tulo had all the ingredients of a recipe to struggle early on this year. Coming off an injury, as well as potentially trying to do too much for a projected terrible team, it would have been no surprise if the Rockie shortstop got off to a rough start.
The Rockies’ cleanup hitter now looks up at the scoreboard to a batting average over .300, four home runs and 13 runs batted in. The guys batting in front of and behind him have also reaped benefits from a healthy Tulo. Carlos Gonzalez is hitting over .400, while Michael Cuddyer has 12 runs batted in. Both are getting good pitches to hit as pitchers focus on Tulowitzki more. And anybody that has watched the Rockies play at all this season knows his defense is back to his Gold Glove status.
If I’m Dan O’Dowd, I don’t even answer the phone if Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman calls about Tulo. For the Rockies to stay competitive, they need number two as their number one guy.