|Andrew Brown won't get back his first HR ball.|
Since the youth movement has begun in earnest, the Rockies have been playing inspired baseball. Suddenly, they are no longer playing like they can't wait for the season to end, but instead playing as if they love playing baseball and want to win as many baseball games as they can. Suddenly, the fact that the Rockies are dead last in the National League West doesn't effect the amount of effort put forth on the field.
On Saturday Andrew Brown launched his first Major League home run onto Waveland Avenue. His home run tied the game at three. Earlier, Josh Rutledge smacked a two-run homer that put the Rockies on the board.
Carlos Torres, a 29-year-old looking to finally make it to the big leagues for good, pitched 2-1/3 innings, giving up just one hit. Following Torres was Rex Brothers. When the hard-throwing lefty is focused on throwing strikes, he is very difficult to hit. He followed up Torres' performance with 1-1/3 scoreless innings of his own. Rookie Will Harris needed only two pitches to get his one out before the team handed the ball to Rafael Betancourt, who promptly put the Cubs down in order to nail down his 26th save.
The Rockies are suddenly winning. Ironically, the winning has started not just with the younger players in the lineup, but also since Bill Geivett took a larger role in the Major League operations. Two weeks ago, when the team really started rolling, Geivett held a closed door meeting in San Francisco letting the players and coaches know that they were all in evaluation mode for the remainder of the season.
That message seems to have gotten across for the Rockies. The young players seem to have seized the opportunity to show that they belong in the big leagues. They have taken the motivation as a sign that regardless of where the club finishes in the standings, the final two months will determine where they are in the eyes of their employer heading in to 2013.
There seems to be a renewed sense of focus, as well as a hunger from the younger players to seize an opportunity. That has changed this failed 2012 season for those who have followed this team.
The question is, what was holding this team back from that so far? Was there too much pressure from Dan O'Dowd when he was in that role? Was there too much micromanaging going on that forced the players to be stiff in the field and unable to relax and play the game?
The reality is, no one really understands what the differences have been with the shift in Geivett and O'Dowd's roles. However, one thing is certain, since the changes, the team is playing better baseball. Whether that shakeup was enough to inspire this team to remain focused heading in to 2013 remains to be seen.
From most reports, O'Dowd is generally a nice guy. However, he is laser focused and isn't afraid to get in anyone's face when they fail. 13 years into being a general manager would take a toll on someone who is continuously trying to micromanage. He has admitted, both to USA Today and on the season ticket holder conference call that he is tired. Maybe it is time to go even further and simply remove him from the Major League equation. Maybe O'Dowd needs to remain in the organization, but head up the minor leaguers and have nothing to do with the big league roster at all.
Whatever the reason, the Rockies are playing better baseball. They are finding ways to win, and they aren't quitting in the middle of games. They have suddenly become a fun team to watch, and after a great road trip that comes to an end on Sunday, it would seem that they are going to avoid their first-ever 100 loss season.
Follow me on Twitter @RockiesReview. Like me on Facebook, search "Rockies Review"