As discussed at the end of last week, the Colorado Rockies new manager is Walt Weiss. The belief held that, based on his youth and inexperience, the Rockies planned to bring Weiss along with their youthful roster – the two could grow together.
Until a key detail surfaced: Walt Weiss signed just a one-year contract to manage the Rockies, a team which lost 98 games in 2012. Is this an example of a manager being doomed to fail, a meddlesome organization unable to get out of its own way or something else all together?
The term “lame duck manager” gets thrown around when a manager enters the final year of his contract. It seems to indicate a lack of confidence by the front office in the field boss’ ability to affect positive change on the field and/or navigate the emotional minefield that is a big league clubhouse. To bring in a new bench boss and drop him directly into such a situation seems counter-productive for a team undergoing a major rebuilding project.
Rockies blog Purple Row scoffs at any lame duck talk, noting Colorado’s front office is so famously loyal that hiring a guy at all indicates he will remain with the team basically forever. So if the one-year term is hollow, why bother with it in the first place?
The Blake Street Bulletin seems on board with the hire though their comment section gives rise to mild protest over the term of his contract and Weiss’ unwillingness to hire a new staff. Who is the real manager anyway?
Weiss talks about being in the La Russa model and insisting the team will improve fundamentally as well as ensuring they get over the mental block of playing at altitude, he’s still an inexperienced manager dealing with a bad team.
While the Rockies played terrible defense in 2012 not because they lacked fundamentals but because they have bad players in multiple spots around the diamond. Defense in Colorado is a tricky proposition simply because of all the additional ground for the fielders to cover. The Rox bunted often but did so effectively in 2012. An element of “arrows versus archers” in terms of laying blame at the feet of an otherwise uninspiring group of players.
No ownership group can publicly state that a 98 loss season is acceptable. At this time of year, owners and front office types promise the world, swearing next year’s club will represent a better use of the fanbase’s money and time.
So what is Walt Weiss’ mandate? Is he part of a rebuilding club for next year and beyond or is he in place to deliver as many wins as possible in the shortest amount of time? Does a winning record bring Weiss back for sure? A winning record is more palatable to most fans but a team looking to turn itself around must ensure their prospects and young players are put into positions to succeed. It is difficult to make informed front office decisions on players who sit back and watch veterans on one-year deals scrape together 80 wins.
Walk Weiss isn’t a lame duck because the Rockies only offered him one year to prove his worth. He is a lame duck because the Rockies organization makes the same mistakes time and again and displays little interest in changing. A team skewing “laughingstock” doesn’t need to hire an experienced manager to establish credibility, they just need to demonstrate a willingness to change what doesn’t work. Sadly, it just looks like more of the same in Denver.