I like Walt Weiss and I am glad that he will likely return in 2014 as the manager of the Colorado Rockies. But part of me wishes that the Rockies would have cut the first-year manager loose strictly as a punishment for not getting ejected from a single game this season, only because I think that entire topic is absurd and, like a parody movie, the only way to smack everybody in the face with that absurdity is by taking it completely over the top.
Can you imagine if this happened in a bigger market? The collective distress over the manager not having a single ejection might actually have legs as a story. I love baseball and all of its nuances and unwritten rules, but man, it leads to some silly “if this, then that” conclusions about thought processes that we are all too comfortable to assume are universal among players, coaches, and fans.
What if Weiss is working the umpires, kind of like when an NBA player tells a ref to “watch” for a call but then pats him on the rear end and gives him an ‘atta boy? If that’s the case, couldn’t I argue that his non-ejections are just as useful as screaming, kicking dirt, and getting ejected to show that he “has his guy’s back?” Of course I have no idea if that’s what happens or not, but we also have no idea how his lack of ejections plays in the locker room. So let’s all agree to talk about something more interesting.
Of course I do not actually wish the Rockies planned to part ways with Weiss. In fact, I am glad he will return. If those who cover the team are on the right track, the players respect him. They play hard for him. So really, Weiss’s biggest issue remains the one that he confronted upon taking the job in the first place. As Terry Frei of the Denver Post writes:
Another important step in his growth, though, is dispelling his image as a compliant yes man in the dugout, chosen and prized for his willingness to live with what again has proven to be a dysfunctional front-office model. The image is exaggerated, but as with all caricatures, there is some truth in it.”
What might be the biggest problem is that you can argue, at least in part, that the front office’s heavy-handedness (presuming that’s what it is) has worked out. Sure, the bullpen is a wreck, and that might be the result of overuse, but look at this: this team has three competent starting pitchers and Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa are both having the best seasons of their career. Could you reasonably argue that the strict early pitch counts worked? Or, wouldn’t you rather have glaring needs in the middle of your bullpen than in your starting rotation? You might still hate the pitch count, but this season at least makes us pause before we crush the front office for it.
For his part, Weiss insists he has a voice and is not simply a figurehead. Quoted in Frei’s article:
I think we all have to be on the same page. That’s the only way it’s ever going to work, not only here, but anywhere. Yeah, I have plenty of say…I get my point across. Is that what you mean? I’m not up there screaming and arguing with our front office every day. But I get my point across. It hasn’t been a problem.”
But maybe, when it comes to the game played on the field, Weiss doesn’t have to resist the front office much. When it comes to player personnel? They might still need help in that regard, but if nothing else, I do not think the meddling front office is apparent in the play of the Rockies this season. It certainly is not concerning enough for me to question the Rockies bringing Weiss back as manager.
Hopefully Weiss will continue to put his stamp on this team next season, and hopefully that will be a good thing.