A common train of thought these days is that managers, by-in-large, do more harm than good, and furthermore, even the good ones are generally overrated. I don’t agree with that. Just because leadership isn’t quantifiable doesn’t mean it isn’t extremely valuable. To see an illustration of this, you need to look no further than the 2011-2012 Colorado Rockies. Jim Tracy, while being a hell of a guy, was an ineffective leader. Lost in the frustration of the last two years is the fact that this team, as it is currently constructed, does not have 100 loss talent. Certainly, injuries have been part of the problem, but clearly, Tracy was not getting the most out of his team. They are better than they performed last year. His decision to walk away was a blessing.
However, with the way things have gone in Colorado lately, there was legitimate concern that whoever the Rockies brought in as Jim’s replacement would be a bad choice and probably a puppet for O’Dowd and Geivett. The Rockies need a manager that can relate to players – at which Tracy apparently excelled – but also demand accountability – at which Tracy was a failure. In addition to that, this team also needs someone that can stand up to DOD and Geivett. In fact, they need a leader that will make DOD feel like Geivett’s presence in the clubhouse is no longer necessary. That can’t be an ideal situation; after all, it’s difficult to follow if you are being pointed in two different directions.
I think they found their man. Over the last few days, I’ve come around more and more on Walt Weiss to the point where I now think this was a terrific hire. I would even go so far as to say that this is the most positive thing to happen in this organization in a couple of years.
When last we spoke, I mentioned my concerns about Walt’s close relationship with O’Dowd, but I also said that he might be the best candidate out of the four. But, here’s the thing about Walt Weiss – he has stood up to this organization before and ended up leaving all together, but clearly he earned their respect in the process. By all accounts, he’s not the type of guy that will just lie down and take whatever Geivett and DOD give to him. That is why I’m encouraged about him running this team. The Rockies got themselves a man with some backbone. I could be wrong. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time, but from talking to some folks in the know that was the impression I was given.
The fact that Weiss hasn’t managed in the bigs before is not a concern. Weiss played for, and presumably learned from, the following men while he was in the majors: Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, Don Baylor, and Rene Lachmann. (Lachmann will probably be hired as the Rockies hitting coach.) La Russa and Cox, the two he spent the most time with, are Hall of Famers. For managerial school, he essentially went to Yale for undergrad and got his graduate degree from Harvard. In other words, I like his pedigree.
Weiss and the Rockies agreed to a one year deal, which at first look seems peculiar since this is the same org that recently agreed to a lifetime handshake agreement with the guy who just walked away. However, functionally, Weiss’s contract doesn’t play out any different than Tracy’s. O’Dowd said today that they are all on one year deals anyway. I don’t feel like that’s true for Dan, but it really is for most people in the baseball industry. Weiss will have to get results. He’ll be given a little bit of a leash since they were a disaster this year, but if he does a good job, and both sides want to continue the relationship, he’ll be back. It’s no different than the situation with at least half the managers in baseball.
It would not surprise me in the least if Weiss winds up in the manager of the year conversation next year. While I obviously believe in Weiss’s abilities, that’s more a statement on the Rockies’ talent than it is him. If they get a healthy Chacin, DLR, and Tulo next year, it’s not out of the question to expect a fifteen win improvement. That would have them flirting with .500, a benchmark that would garner Weiss some attention.
Overall, I say quality hire. I believe they got a guy that will demand accountability, value defense, appreciate a player that gets on base, stand up to the bosses, and perhaps most importantly, be able to relate to and develop young players. How’s that? A little positivity on this site for once.