The Colorado Rockies have preached patience. Even back-to-back postseason appearances couldn’t change their quiet approach to personnel moves.
Their direct juxtaposition is the Mets – the team their currently intangled with in a three-game series. They’ve rid themselves of regrets and chosen to chase a glorious fate, no matter the financial cost.
If the two teams swapped mindsets, the Rockies would be looking at a different present and future.
The first sign of a new mindset for the Mets came in the offseason. They traded for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz – a package that cost them five players, including top prospect, Jarred Kelenic. The move was an example of one team looking to rebuild and another to compete.
Many forget, but the Mets’ last playoff appearance was in 2016. The year before, they went to the World Series before falling to the Royals. A handful of the same pieces that led that team are still in place.
Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Jeurys Familia headline the players still present on the 2019 roster. Notable additions include rookie phenom Pete Alonso, Wilson Ramos and Michael Conforto.
Without knowing that Alonso would find his footing early or that deGrom would repeat his dominant year, the Mets chose to go for it. At the deadline, the club acquired Marcus Stroman – who went seven scoreless frames against the Rockies Tuesday – from the Blue Jays. They were 50-55 – a hearty 11 games back in the division race.
Inversely, the Rockies haven’t built on their recent success. Small deadline additions like Seunghwan Oh and Pat Neshek have paid dividends but failed to result in more than an exit in the division series.
Quiet offseasons after the pair of postseason runs have worsened things. The desire to get better as turned into a wait-and-see approach.
Kyle Freeland regressed, as did German Marquez. Tyler Anderson and Chad Bettis were both booted from the opening rotation – a rotation that’s lost all of its members due to injury.
Instead of relying on Anderson, the team could’ve turned to the Blue Jays. After two trades in three years, the two club’s transaction chemistry was already built. Adding the aforementioned Stroman before the year likely would’ve resolved several issues. Going out and taking on contracts – much like the Mets did with Cano and Diaz – could’ve helped as well.
Revenue has been increasing for the Rockies. Attendance this year, despite their abysmal record, is set to breach three million for the second time since 2001.
In his opening monologue to the media before the year, Owner Dick Monfort stated that he spends the same portion of revenue every year on salaries. When that revenue goes up, so do the salaries, but only in conjunction with a strict ratio.
Therein lies the problem for the Rockies. Instead of continuing to spend the same portion that’s resulted in good, not great results, they should’ve pushed for more. Nothing raises overall revenue like a deep postseason run.
Adding Stroman to the rotation would’ve been huge for a team on the mend, even at the deadline. A bigger trade, like acquiring a Bauer for a package headlined by Raimel Tapia, would’ve been effective as well.
Each year, the Rockies’ front office, headlined by Jeff Bridich, says they are attempting to build a winning team. The results have been several errant contracts with relievers and no notable playoff success.
Now, the Mets are four games out of a wild card spot. The Rockies are 66-86, with arguably a greater base of talent.
Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Jon Gray and Charlie Blackmon are better than any quartet the Mets have to offer. The hardest part is acquiring the key pieces – something the Rockies have already done.
Pushing the payroll to $180 million before the trade deadline, just above the Giants, could’ve catapulted the team to success. If it hadn’t, at least the attendance would’ve been even better.
There’s no longer an excuse for being patient in sports. Across professional leagues, the aggressive teams are winning.
The Boston Red Sox won the World Series last year behind a gutsy move to sign J.D. Martinez and make a blockbuster trade in 2016 for Chris Sale. The Toronto Raptors, fresh off another deep postseason run in 2018, traded their franchise player for Kawhi Leonard en route to winning their first title.
Caution no longer has a place in team sports. The Mets have figured it out. Their hosting counterparts have not.