When the Colorado Rockies hired Walt Weiss last fall, there was a lot of head scratching, second-guessing and laughter.
Laughter at the fact that the Rockies hired a high school baseball coach, a move that only confirmed what a joke of an organization the Rockies are. There’s a long way to go and there are some rough times ahead, but Weiss may have been the perfect man for the job.
It is true that he has made some mistakes that are typical of a young manager — leaving pitchers in too long and pinch-hitting guys at the wrong time. In a loss to the San Francisco Giants last week, Weiss sent reliever Matt Belisle out for a second inning of work and the Giants took advantage.
That move probably cost the Rockies a game that they should have won. That said, managing a bullpen is more about feel than anything else and Weiss will improve as time goes on.
In the comeback win over the New York Mets on Tuesday night, Weiss sent Troy Tulowitzki up to pinch hit with the bases loaded and the Rockies down by two in the eighth inning. Normally, that’s a decision that makes sense but not in this case.
The temperature was in the 30s and Tulowitzki had been sitting on the bench for nearly four hours — it was unfair to ask any player to perform in that circumstance. Again, Weiss will get a better feel for those types of situations as he manages more games.
What Weiss does bring to the Rockies, however, is something that cannot be seen in a box score. He brings a leadership style that the players have obviously gotten in line behind. Weiss is quiet but when he does say something, the players listen.
Weiss also instills toughness and a never-quit approach into the Rockies. They were down 8-2 to the Mets on Tuesday night, but there was no hanging of heads — the Rockies fought back little by little, and swept the double-header with a walk-off win in the bottom of the 10th.
In some ways, it is hard to describe the positive impact that Weiss has had on this team because it is so subtle, which is also the way he played. Fans may not notice Weiss or his moves during the game, but they see the end result and that’s what matters.
The biggest thing Weiss has accomplished is the idea that the players for the Rockies believe for the first time in three years. They believe that one of them is going to get the big hit, that they are going to get the big out, and they believe that somehow they are going to find a way to win. Weiss is still learning how to manage some situations, but his leadership and motivation of his players has the Rockies winning baseball games.
The Rockies are off to a great start at 10-4 and there’s a long way to go, but Weiss was the perfect choice at the perfect time.
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