The Colorado Rockies open spring training today, and manager Walt Weiss begins his first season as skipper. Spring is supposed to bring hope and optimism to Major League teams, but this will not be the case in Colorado. The goal for the Rockies has nothing to do with the playoffs; the goal is the get to .500. Anything is possible, but there’s no way this team is winning 81 games. Having said that, Weiss deserves a shot. I’ve heard all the criticism and all the jokes about Weiss going from a high school coach to a Major League Manager, if you believe the Rockies are a Major League team. What is there to lose?
Weiss is going to make mistakes, all rookie managers do, but it’s not like he is going to cost the team a game in a pennant race. So they win 69 games, instead of 70. No one, and I do mean no one, has been harder on the ownership of the Rockies than me, but I don’t have a problem with the Weiss hire for a number of reasons.
The primary reason the Rockies hired Weiss is financially driven, but there are other benefits in my view. I get so tired of watching managers whose overall record is well below .500 get job after job just because they have experience. The Rockies have all the experience in losing they will ever need, they don’t need a manager to show them how to do that. Of course Weiss is a gamble, but he can’t do any worse than anyone else they would have hired, and maybe he turns out to be exactly the right person for the job. By the way, no manager with any kind of a track record is coming to Colorado.
The Rockies also need something positive to put in front of the fans and media every day, and Weiss is a perfect fit for that. He was one of the most popular players in team history and there are some fans that will go to games again just because he is back in the dugout.
I’m also not completely buying this argument that going from high school to the Major Leagues is that big of a jump for a guy like Weiss. First of all, he was a Rockies assistant in nearly every capacity for seven years. He has seen the minor league system, he has worked in the front office, and he knows how to work with people. As I said before, he will make mistakes, but Jim Tracy made one or two a night.
If Weiss is going to succeed or have any shot to succeed, then the ownership has to let him manage. That’s the scary part, because when was the last time the Rockies management did anything right? They have to let him make mistakes and learn from them, if they micro-manage like they did last season with Tracy, then Weiss will fail. General Manager Bill Geivett has to get his desk out of the clubhouse and let Weiss run the team. The players have to see Weiss as the manager and not as Geivett’s puppet. If Geivett is hanging around the clubhouse everyday then Weiss has no shot. Charlie Monfort and Geivett hired Weiss to be the manager, let him be.
There’s no doubt that Weiss is a gamble, but Connie Mack could be brought back from the beyond, and he’s not going .500 with this team. The hiring of Weiss was a great example of thinking outside of the box and I do give the Rockies credit for that, even if they did do it to save a little money. Monfort and Geivett don’t make good decisions, they stumble into them and Weiss might be their best stumble yet.
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