Brad Hawpe is no longer a Rockie. Clint Barmes is unlikely to return. Gen R is officially oveR. And so goes the most successful stretch in Colorado Rockies baseball history. Holliday, Hawpe, Barmes, Atkins ... these men were supposed to form the core of a contender around the superstar first baseman Todd Helton.
This generation was born out of the greatest mistake in franchise history, the offseason signings of Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle to ludicrous contracts they had little chance of fulfilling. The dream was a rotation of top-flight starters to complement a battery of bats throughout the lineup. The reality was a crippled team budget and few promising players for the future. Thus, new General Manager Dan O' Dowd poured money into the draft and, for the first time in team history, the focus was placed on developing homegrown players instead of shopping via free agency.
"Todd and the Toddlers" translated into "Gen R," and the youth movement was fully on in Denver. Veterans such as Jeremy Burnitz, Larry Walker, and Charles Johnson were moved to make room for the incoming waves of talent. And, at first, they were terrible. All of the players worked hard, were good guys who played entertaining baseball, but it wasn't good baseball. In 2006, the team was surprisingly in contention at the All-Star break, but was outpaced in the second half.
Everyone remembers what happened in 2007, the culmination of half a decade of built talent leads to the most stunning World Series run in baseball history. Many credited it as a lucky team getting hot. This is entirely fair. Yet, those of us who suffered through year after year of poor baseball know Rocktober was the end result of a group of guys who were drafted together, rose through the minors together, and genuinely loved one another.
Now we sit towards the end of the 2010 season, a mere three years after that magical World Series appearance, and Gen R is no longer with us. Holliday was traded, Atkins was non-tendered, Barmes will probably not receive a contract during the offseason, and Brad Hawpe has been released. Gen R is no longer with the organization, but it's certainly not because they failed. They brought excitement back to 20th and Blake for the first time since The Bombers of the mid-90s. They brought Colorado its first ever World Series. They gave us some of the most memorable and inexplicable games in baseball during that stretch.
And now their time has passed. Although today must be a sad day for Rockies' fans, there is plenty of reason for optimism. These players are now gone because there is plenty of new talent knocking on the door. Hawpe was released because Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez, and Seth Smith are approaching their primes right now. Clint Barmes is heading out the door because players such as Chris Nelson and Eric Young Jr. are proving they belong in the majors. Losing Hawpe is a bitter pill to swallow, but it's a great sign for the general health of the organization. Bright days are here, and we have players such as Brad Hawpe to thank for them.
Happy trails, Brad. You are a class act and a true role model in an uncertain era, and will always be adorned with adulation at Coors Field.