Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Colorado Rockies wise to go back in time for coaching decisions

The Rockies named Dante Bichette hitting coach on Tues.
On Tuesday, the Colorado Rockies announced that former slugger Dante Bichette would be the hitting coach under new manager Walt Weiss.

Bichette entered the conversation after Weiss was given the new role of manager. The two played together in Colorado from 1994 through 1997. During those years, the Rockies established themselves as a club that didn't concern themselves with the factors that made it difficult to win in Colorado.

The hiring of both Bichette and Weiss has come with criticism from fans and analysts alike. Much of the disparaging comes from the fact that neither Weiss nor Bichette has any big league coaching experience whatsoever.

However, the Rockies should be commended for their outside the box thinking. This club has been desperately trying to do things outside of the box for quite some time, however, most of the time, it has been to the detriment of the success of the team. This time, however, the Rockies got it right.

The reason these are good moves is because the Rockies franchise has been lacking an identity since 2009. In both '09 and '07, the Rockies were a team that thrived in the underdog role. When they were well behind in the standings they didn't quit. They kept fighting and found their way into the playoffs. Since then, however, the team has become less resilient, and more full of excuses.

Bringing back Weiss and Bichette takes the Rockies back to when they had an identity. In 1995, when the Rockies made their first postseason appearance, the club was just three years old. They went from being an expansion team trying to figure out their way in the big leagues into a team that had a real chance to win the World Series. Had they not run into a Braves team destined for a championship, they very well could have taken home a National League pennant.

When a team goes from castoffs, like much of the 1993 Rockies roster was, to a serious contender in just three seasons, it speaks to the character of the team. Instead of accepting the fact that they really didn't have to be good for several more years, the players could have been content with simply being mediocre. Instead, they pushed themselves and turned themselves into contenders before they should have been.

Bichette would famously tell the media every season at the beginning of spring training that the team's goal was to win the World Series. It didn't matter if the club had lost 87 games the previous season, the goal was to win the World Series.

Just this past season, the Denver Post caught up with Bichette, who had some scathing comments about the Rockies 4-man rotation, 75-pitch count theory. He was very clear that when he was a Rockie, the team didn't view Coors Field, and it's altitude as a detriment, but rather, as an advantage.

Weiss was a player who played well above his talent level. Rarely would he leave the field with a clean uniform. He was known for being gritty and playing the game the right way.

Both Weiss and Bichette were well known for their abilities to do something that is rarely seen by a member of the Colorado Rockies. When they had two strikes, they would battle. They would notoriously fight pitches off until they got one that they could do something with. Instead of giving in to the pitcher when the they got down in the count, they wore down the pitcher, forcing him to throw a pitch that he shouldn't be throwing with two strikes.

The reason both Weiss and Bichette should be welcomed back with open arms is because of their attitudes. These are guys who possess what the Rockies franchise has been sorely missing since the end of the 2009 season. Instead of making excuses, the team will now have two men at the helm who believe that it is not only possible to win at altitude, but that it should be easier for the home team to win a mile above sea level.

For the past three seasons, the Rockies have seen their mindset shift from being an underdog bent on winning, to a team that wilted under the excuses that came down from the top. They gave in to the factors that used to be an advantage and turned them into disadvantages.

Bringing both Weiss and Bichette back into the fold is taking the mindset back to where the team believed they could win, even if they didn't have the superior talent.

The criticism of the Rockies is that these two guys have no coaching experience. However, if the Rockies make a smart decision to hire a pitching coach with previous experience, the fact that the new guys haven't coached in the past shouldn't be a detriment. In fact, they are probably ahead of a candidate without experience in Colorado for 81 games per season.

The best thing the Rockies could have done after a 98-loss season was to hire guys who had winning mentalities. Both Weiss and Bichette possess that mentality. That is good news for the team.

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  1. why stop there with weiss and bichette, have vinnie 3rd base coach, eric young sr, 1st base coach and larry walker outfielders coach along with don baylor the bench coach. all great players for the rockies with great winning attitudes but like it's been the past several years NO PITCHING we have the potential of winning games with the young pitchers we have now, front office just needs to stay the hell out of the picture and let the manager and coaches, manage and coach these kids. let them play baseball the way it's supposed to be played.

  2. But will O'Dowd and company LET them succeed? That is the question. By bringing in popular ex-players are they attempting to re-focus fans' attentions away from the real problem -- themselves?

  3. I almost wonder if the pitch count was because DimJim would leave pitchers in too long and let them get eaten alive. Was the pitch count a move to get Tracy to quit, instead of firing him and paying out his "handshake" contact? Have we heard if the pitch count will for sure continue after the hiring of Walt?