© 2024 ALLCITY Network Inc.
All rights reserved.
It was a highly criticized move when the Colorado Rockies reached into the high school ranks to make Walt Weiss their sixth manager in club history.
The criticism wasn’t fair. It wasn’t like Weiss was a high school coach who had never been in a Major League clubhouse, or endured the grind of 162 games. Weiss played for more than a decade in the big leagues. He played under a couple of the best managers in this era, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox. The former shortstop might not have ever managed in the professional ranks, but his baseball acumen was good enough to be a solid out-of-the-box pick to manage a team that needed a change.
Weiss was a hard-nosed, gritty player who knew how to grind out an at-bat in the big leagues. It was the type of change that the Rockies needed after a manager like Jim Tracy who could say a thousand words to describe the most simple of circumstances.
What came with the territory was the fact that Weiss was going to have to learn on the job. He was going to have to make mistakes in order to figure things out. Simply because he had good tutelage as a player didn’t mean that he was going make great decisions right out of the gate.
In his third season at the helm, Weiss has made strides. He has gotten better. However, he still makes mistakes that shouldn’t be being made with a team that is looking to take the next steps. It was easy to ignore the mistakes when the Rockies expectations were to lose 90 or more games. It was easy to forgive the learning lessons when the Rockies front office busy making excuses for a Rockies team that was built for failure and had no depth to bail them out of injuries.
However, the Rockies have made changes in the front office. As subtle as the changes may have been, they changed the mindset of the team. The Rockies no longer are making excuses, they aren’t blaming the altitude. Instead, they are competing with even the best of teams. Even if they lose more often than they win, the Rockies play like the believe they are good enough to compete.
The Rockies have taken a small step forward, but Weiss doesn’t seem to have.
Some of the decisions that he makes leave fans scratching their heads. Go back to the doubleheader against the Dodgers to kick off the previous 10-game home stand. With a chance to sweep the first place club, Weiss went to Rafael Betancourt in the 9th inning with a three run lead. He didn’t want to go to John Axford because the closer had pitched in the first game. However, so had Betancourt. The game ended with a kick to the gut when Betancourt gave up a grand slam and watched the Dodgers snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.
On far too many occasions, Weiss has chosen to go with Boone Logan in tough situations. While Logan was the signing that Dan O’Dowd seemingly left as a parting gift, Weiss continues to use him as if the signing was a good decision. As bad as the signing was, the reality is that Logan needs to be used when it is appropriate. Clearly high leverage situations are not where he belongs at this point.
In the latest example, Weiss found his team clawing back into a game in which Dallas Kuechel had a perfect game going through six innings. Down 5-0, the Rockies worked themselves back into the game by scoring three runs. Down 5-3, Weiss went to his bullpen, choosing LaTroy Hawkins. The 42-year-old immediately gave up a home run to George Springer, his second of the game. The three-run cushion made the Rockies task that much more difficult.
In the 9th inning the Rockies were able to get two runners aboard with two outs and Astros closer Luke Gregerson, a righty, on the mound. With Carlos Gonzalez remaining on the bench, Weiss chose to stick with Rafael Ynoa, his utility player who got the start in left field because Keichel is a tough lefty. However, with the Keichel long gone, Weiss had a chance to insert his $81 million man with a chance to knock the ball out of the park.
It is hard to justify the decision to stick with Ynoa. While CarGo owns just a 2-for-11 in his career against Gregerson, the general rule in baseball is to go with your best man when given the chance. Live and die with the guys who are paid to be the heroes. With all due respect to Ynoa, he spent nearly 10 years in the minor leagues for a reason. With very little power, even a hit would require something else good to happen for the Rockies to tie the game. However, with Gonzalez, there is a chance that one swing of the bat could have tied the game and given the Rockies a chance to send it to extra innings.
Weiss is a great person. To a man, everyone who has met him agrees with that statement. However, the team may need someone who is a little more equipped to make tough decisions and to handle them well. It seems that Weiss, while improving, hasn’t taken his game to the level that it needs to be at for the Rockies to win games that could change the course of their season.
It is becoming more and more clear that Weiss isn’t the right guy for the job at this stage in the development of the Rockies.