You can have a good day in the NCAA basketball tournament and it can make your career or reputation. But you can have a good four months in the Major League baseball season and it doesn’t do you a bit of good if the last two months of the season are lousy (Hello 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates).
So with that in mind I have to say that I’m still surprised that the Colorado Rockies were sitting at 5-1 on Sunday night. Unlike the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins (each 1-5) who immediately sunk to the bottom of the standings, the Rockies are acting like a real team. At least their start didn’t plunge their fans into immediate despair.
Could it be that new manager Walt Weiss has created a winning attitude in Denver? Or is it just a coincidence that the Rockies are off to a good start with a new manager? Maybe a little of both. There’s only so much compensating for talent that a manager can do anyway.
Weiss was not a great player, but a solid one during his playing days, with several notable highlights. He was the 1988 American League rookie of the year for the Oakland Athletics and made his only All-Star team that year. In 1989, he hit a home run during the World Series and was part of the A’s championship team.
Generally, Weiss, who recorded a .258 lifetime average, was viewed as a scrappy player and scrappy players often feature traits that help them to become good managers. Of course Weiss needs some players on his roster that are better than he was for the Rockies to succeed long-term.
One of the most encouraging developments Colorado could have hoped for broke out on Saturday. Righty Jon Garland, whose arm had been as useless as hot fudge on spaghetti for most of the last two years started a game, pitched well, and collected the 6-3 victory over the San Diego Padres. Garland, who threw six innings, gave up five hits and two runs, hadn’t pitched since June of 2011. If he can regain his old form consistently then he might win 12 to 15 games this season. That would be a huge boost.
Anyone who enjoys baseball has got to be rooting for Todd Helton to put together one more good year before he retires and not merely limp off into the sunset. Helton is 39 and has a lifetime average of .320, but he hasn’t been close to fully healthy for a whole season since 2009. It would be nice if the veteran first baseman’s body functioned at 100 percent for one last go-around, but five games into the 2013 season he was hitting .167, so who knows what is possible anymore.
Causing more excitement in Colorado at the moment is Dexter Fowler. The 27-year-old centerfielder is coming off his best all-around season. For a couple of years Fowler was a top triples man and a solid stolen-base man. But last year he hit .300 and this year he is off to a hotter start (.370 after six games) and seems as if he has added home-run capability to the mix, too. He hit 13 last year and smacked a few right away this year.
The Rockies are not going to maintain an 80 percent win pace this season. The Rockies are not going to win 60 percent of their games this season. But maybe they can win 50 percent of them.