|Walt Weiss becomes the Colorado Rockies 6th manager.|
The former American League Rookie of the Year has never managed, or coached in professional baseball. He served as a special assistant to the general manager for several years, but never in an official coaching role.
Weiss was asked to join Clint Hurdle's staff on a couple of different occasions, but Weiss turned the opportunity down because he wanted to spend time with his growing family. However, as one of his sons nears the end of his high school career, Weiss has decided that the Rockies opportunity had arrived at the right time.
The Rockies must have been impressed with Weiss during the interview process. Early on, an indication was made that Matt Williams was the favorite to win the job. After a final interview on Monday, the Rockies elected Weiss instead. The four finalists for the job were Weiss, Williams, Jason Giambi and Tom Runnells.
The move will come with plenty of criticism. Weiss has no big league coaching experience and is coming straight off of the job at Regis Jesuit High School, a far cry from the big leagues. However, the move is a good one. The Rockies are doing everything in their power--many times to their own detriment--to think outside of the traditional box. Instead of hiring a re-tread manager that was cut from the same cloth as any traditional manager, the Rockies elected to go in a new direction.
Weiss is a good pick because he brings an intensity that the Rockies lacked in Jim Tracy's tenure. If his managerial style is the same as the way he played the game, he will be gritty, he won't make excuses, and he will get more out of his talent than what it says on paper.
The former Rockies shortstop was well-known for never changing his mitt. Despite being held together with fishing wire and anything else that was around, Weiss refused to get rid of his old mitt. The glove was nicknamed the freak.
One thing Rockies fans can hope bleeds over to the way Weiss manages is the way he took at-bats. He was a guy who was never in a bad count. Rarely would he swing at the first pitch, and when he had two strikes, the at-bat was just beginning. Regardless of the pitcher on the mound, Weiss was able to fight off pitch after pitch before finding one to deposit into the outfield grass for a base hit, or until the pitcher missed the strike zone and walked him.
Weiss was a fundamental baseball player. He did the little things right. Anyone watching Rockies baseball over the past two seasons knows that the fundamentals in their game was nowhere to be found. If Weiss can translate the way he played into the way he manages, the Rockies will have made a good choice.
Of course, the issue now is the question that most Rockies fans will be asking. How much say will Weiss have in the way things go on the field. In the last few months of Tracy's days, the micromanagement was in full swing. The club instituted, against Tracy's approval, a four-man rotation where the starting pitcher was limited to 75-pitches. In August, Bill Geivett moved his office closer to the clubhouse so that he could oversee the club better and make more decisions. By the end of the season, Tracy's role was essentially limited to addressing the media after the game, which usually entailed having to defend decisions that he didn't actually make.
Will Weiss be in the same position as Tracy? Will Weiss be able to convince the front office to let him have the reins in the clubhouse? That will be the million dollar question heading into spring training.
The Rockies are in a desperate position for their manager to be able to not only push back on the micromanagement from the front office, but also be a savvy enough baseball mind to convince the front office to allow him to make his own decisions.
Of course, after 98 losses, the Rockies have plenty of issues to deal with. Jim Tracy wasn't the problem, but he was part of the problem. There are plenty more things that need to change at 20th and Blake, but hiring Weiss to man the ship is a good place to start. If he manages the way he played, the Rockies have already improved.
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