You’ll have to forgive us for being so quiet lately here at BSB. It’s taken a bit longer than I expected for me to get over the seven month gut punch that the Rockies just gave us. I’m sure the same can be said for everyone else. The home squad lost 98 games, Tulo missed most of the season, their division rival won the World Series for the second time in three years, and it all tasted like crap.
The good news is that you probably didn’t have to see the Giants sweep the Tigers in the World Series. Based on the ratings, I don’t think any games were shown outside of San Francisco and Detroit. All in all, I have to say that 2012 was one of the worst baseball seasons ever. That’s mostly because it was the worst season in Rockies history, but the San Fran championship didn’t help things. That said, 2012 is over now and I’d like to move on from it as quickly as possible.
Thankfully the Rockies’ managerial search appears to be in its final stages, giving me something worthwhile to discuss for the first time in what feels like a year. Now, based on how you view this managerial search, you may be even more depressed. After all, this is a job that the worst tactical manager in baseball decided he couldn’t handle anymore, so it’s tough to get too excited. Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that any fresh face running the Rockies dugout will be a welcome change. And to give the Rockies some credit, one of the prospective new managers actually seems like decent choice. Here is the breakdown:
(Sadly, meltdown specialist and my personal favorite Wally Backman, is not a candidate to manage the Rockies. Though his entertaining tantrums would increase the quality of the on-field product, Wally would probably end up getting into a fist fight with Geivett or O’Dowd or Dick Monfort or all of the above at the same time. I dream about him running the Rox on a daily basis, but a dream is all it will ever be.)
On the face of it, Giambi’s inclusion in this search seems to be a move designed to pacify an upset fanbase. However, he is apparently close with the Monforts and is a very legitimate candidate. Personally, Giambi is one of my favorite ballplayers. I met him when I was a visitors’ bat boy for the Rangers and he was one of the nicest guys I ever met in three years at that job. It also seems like he will make a great manager one day. But, you have to question whether a guy who is technically still a player on a team that seems to lack accountability, and has zero managerial experience, is the proper hire.
On one hand, I applaud the organization for thinking outside the box on some level, but hiring Giambi doesn’t really seem like the best move for this team as it is currently constructed. And quite frankly, I’m not even sure it’s the best move for Giambi. Let’s face it, running the Rockies exactly as Bill Geveitt and Dan O’Dowd instruct is probably not the best way for a young manager to get started. I like the idea of Jason Giambi running the Rockies a lot more than I would if it actually happened.
When Tracy resigned, my first thought was that the Rockies would probably hire someone like Runnells – an established baseball man who would be more than willing to be a puppet if it meant another shot at running a team. Granted, that may be unfair to Runnells, but it does seem like that is what the Rockies want right now.
However, hiring Runnells would not be a sound PR move. This team needs to sell some tickets for next year and fans are already upset. If they hire Runnells it will come off as more of the status quo, which won’t sit well with an angry fanbase. My theory is that Runnells is the guy O’Dowd and Geivett want the most, but the Monforts are hesitant. That’s total speculation though. I have him in last place out of these four, for what it’s worth.
Walt Weiss is obviously close to Dan O’Dowd, which begs the question — anyone noticing a trend here? I would be more comfortable with the Rockies hiring Walt Weiss if he wasn’t so closely affiliated with the organization already. He is a sound baseball mind and his lack of big league managerial experience isn’t all that concerning. The man knows the game.
However, this team needs a substantial shakeup and Weiss doesn’t seem to represent that. Like Runnels and Giambi, he’s already an insider with the organization. Personally, I’d like to see someone fresh. Perhaps that’s not the best reason against Weiss, but it’s hard not to feel that way about the Rockies right now. Truth is that Weiss might be the best hire out of the four finalists, but you have to wonder if he’s just getting a shot because of his relationship with DOD. I don’t see being that close to the GM as a good thing.
If I had my druthers, the Rockies would go get a forward thinker like Dave Martinez and let him have full rein with the team, but that’s not going to happen. It’s going to be one of these four candidates. And since that’s the case, I’m pulling for Matt Williams. Williams would come to the Rockies from the dugout of Kirk Gibson. He’s no nonsense. He’s not friends with the players. Most importantly, I believe out of these four candidates that Williams is the most likely to tell Bill Geivett to shove it.
At some point next season, whoever is running the Rockies will have to fight that battle with Geivett and walk a fine line between crossing the boss and keeping the players’ respect. It’s quietly one of the most daunting aspects about the job; a meddling, façade of a GM is going to be sitting in the clubhouse every single day, second guessing and undermining the manager on a frequent basis. Why do you think Jim Tracy turned in his walking papers? It’s not because he didn’t want to manage a big league baseball team anymore. Williams is a tough customer and I really don’t see him taking flack from a guy like Geivett. That’s also why I don’t think he’ll get hired.
Out of these four candidates, Williams offers the organization its best chance for real, substantive change. He wouldn’t be my first choice, but out of this group, he’s the only choice. That said, my money is on Weiss with Giambi coming in a close second.
UPDATE: News came out this morning that the Rockies have met with Steve Buechele about the open position. Buechele is currently a minor league manager in the Rangers system. I grew up in Arlington when Bue was the third baseman for the Rangers, so I have fond memories of the man. However, I have no idea what kind of manager he’ll make. Interesting turn of events after the Rockies seemed to be close to a decision. Makes you wonder if they became disenchanted with all of the above. No need to hurry though. The puppet will have plenty of time to get ready for 2013. One caveat on Bue before I wrap this up, teams will often grant interviews to prospective managers as a favor to someone else. Buechele has some friends out there and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that he was brought as a favor just so Bue could get on the radar of some other teams.