The Rockies have stability at the helm, for three years at least. Yesterday the Colorado Rockies signed their first year manager/ former player to a multi-year deal to manage the team. Though actual contract terms were not released, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reported that the deal is expected to be around $2 million dollars.
This is a step in the correct direction for the Rockies, who were an improved ball club under the direction of Walt Weiss. A former player who spent 14 years in the major leagues (4 with the Rockies), Weiss brought a player friendly mentality to the club house and it obviously helped, as the Rockies coasted to 74 wins in 2013. Reliever Adam Ottavino and starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa both expressed satisfaction for the return of Weiss, with De La Rosa stating, “He trusted us, and that’s really important for any player”. (Yeah it is DLR… yes it is. )
While the exact details of the contract are not known at this point, Weiss did spend a little time talking about what to expect in 2014. The offensive and overall woes on the road will be a critical factor for 2014 after the Rockies only won 29 games away from Denver this season. The Rockies are even courting the idea of using a dual pitching coach system, something many major league teams are employing. Weiss announced his full coaching staff would be returning for 2014, with only the departure of hitting coach Dante Bichette to fill.
Stepping away from the semi-formal Associated Press reporting approach, I have to say that this extension is well deserved by Weiss. He took a team that really had little to no expectations and guided them to a 74-win season with no managing experience whatsoever! Sorry Regis Jesuit, I don’t consider those years as baseball coach to be “experience”. While he maybe didn’t make all the right decisions, he made more than enough good ones and Rockies fans should look forward to what the next year should bring. A guy like Walt is a great person to have in the clubhouse as he was a consummate professional during his tenure in the league, and will expect that mentality out of his players. On the plus side he has one of the greatest managers of all-time, Tony LaRussa, as a mentor. To me that’s a winning recipe.
The sad reality of it is this: Weiss doesn’t complete the puzzle. The Colorado Rockies will have to bring in a few other pieces (and maybe lose a few) before they are back in Rocktober. The bullpen is completely overused and the starting rotation is in desperate need of at least one more consistent starter. Weiss mentioned that he will be more comfortable letting his starters go deep into counts, but really he has no other option as his reliever arms are completely used up. This coming season will be very interesting, if for nothing else then to see how Weiss manages that. The other large factor will be which direction he, and the all-mighty front office, decide to go for (a) hitting instructor(s). 29 wins on the road was fourth worst in the MLB in 2013, and it will be crucial to get some better at-bats on the road — something a good batting coach can possibly drill into minds. They need someone with clout in that position, not to over-shadow Weiss but to make up for the carousel that the majority of this club has had to deal with at that position over the past 7 years.
Overall bringing Weiss back to lead the club is a good move for the Rockies. But it is not the root of the issues that haunt this team. Just like any good gardener will tell you: a weed doesn’t stop growing until you pull the root. Until some front office changes are made… it will be hard to see the Rockies doing anything more than treading water.
I have no idea what gardeners say; I totally made that up. But it works, right?