The 2005 Rockies, shown in this picture, were a club that seemed to be floundering. Manager Clint Hurdle had taken over the team midway through the 2002 season and any hopes of a post season return in Denver was faint at best.
The Rockies were in the post season in their third season of existence. The Blake Street Bombers took advantage of thin air and made it to the Division Series. A hit in the ninth inning of Game 1 and a scoreless ninth in Game 2 and they would have taken a 2-0 lead on the eventual World Champion Braves.
Don Baylor and Jim Leyland were gone as manager and Buddy Bell took over and they had a winning season in 2000. They finished far behind the Giants in the NL West but they could still hit with anyone, due to the Coors factor.
So in the off season between 2000 and 2001, they opened their wallets and overbid for two of the most sought after free agents on the market. Mike Hampton, the NLCS MVP from the Mets and Denny Neagle, a former 20 game winner from the Yankees. Hampton claimed he signed with the Rockies because of the terrific school system in Denver.
You’d think with over $100 million in the bank, he could afford a prep school for his kids.
Hampton made the All Star team with 14 wins and a .291 average. But his ERA ballooned to 5.41 in the thin air.He did contribute 203 innings which might have been the point all along.
Neagle was nothig short of a disaster, posting a 5.57 ERA over his three seasons in Colorado. The team could hit but there was no hope for the pitching staff.
The 2005 Rox were a 95 loss team, no factor in the playoffs. Todd Helton put up big numbers for them but nobody took him seriously. How much could his .534 slugging matter if he was in Coors. (He DID walk 106 times along with his .320 average but who cares?)
In 2006, the Rockies got off to a surprising start and on the 4th of July, they won back to back games against the Giants and found themselves tied for first place.
Third baseman Garrett Arkins, left fielder Matt Holliday and right fielder Brad Hawpe provided power along with Helton. Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook pitched well enough at Coors and Brian Fuentes held his own as a closer.
There was outside hope in Denver for a playoff team as they were in first at July 4 and faced the second half of the year.
They finished the season on a 32-46 slide and a 76-86 record. Yet another lost season in Denver and no real hope for Rockies fans. That off season Todd Helton was rumored to be traded and the team needed to be blown up.
Little did anyone know that the foundation was there for the team that would stun the baseball world and win the 2007 pennant.
This nondescript Rockies team showed no evidence of the greatness to come.