The Colorado Rockies will have a familiar face and voice on the top step of their dugout in 2013. Walt Weiss, a former American League Rookie of the Year in 1988 who also spent four seasons as the Rockies starting shortstop from 1994-1997, has officially accepted their offer of a one-year deal and will become the sixth manager in their franchise history, according to a Troy Renck report.
While the length of the contract is a bit surprising, the hiring of a man who has been closely associated with the Rockies should come as no surprise at all. It became clear the day Jim Tracy stepped down and the process for selecting a new manager began that their ownership and front office preferred a candidate who has experienced the unique challenges of Coors Field first hand. Weiss certainly fits that bill as a former player, and also as a former special assistant to general manager Dan O'Dowd.
Though they did ultimately interview a handful of outside candidates, such as Matt Williams and Jerry Manuel, Weiss was acknowledged as a strong favorite after the first round of interviews based on his experience and respected knowledge of the game. He then held off a late challenge from Williams, who reportedly performed very well during in his second interview this past Monday, to secure the job.
Another notable candidate for the position was 41-year-old Jason Giambi, who was fully prepared to announce his retirement had the job been offered to him. It's now assumed he'll return for his 19th season on the field, likely with the Rockies, but he could still be considered or groomed for a future coaching job.
Getting back to Weiss, though, during his time away from the Rockies organization he began coaching his son Brody at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colo. If that sounds familiar to you, that's the same high school swimming phenom and four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin attends. Anyway, Weiss just completed his first season as the varsity head coach, so it goes without saying that he's about to make a much bigger leap than most rookie managers do.
That's one issue Weiss will face. Another is that he won't be walking into a situation built for success anytime soon with the Rockies coming off their worst season in franchise history at 64-98. It's also possible, if not likely, they'll enter 2013 with just as many questions on the pitching staff as they did entering the historically awful 2012 season. One thing we do know for sure, though, is Colorado's front office plans on continuing with a retooled version of the paired pitching system it created in 2012, only this time it will revolve around a traditional five-man rotation with a closer-to-normal 90-100 pitch limit.
Sounds like an ideal job for a rookie skipper with one year to prove himself, doesn't it?
In all honesty, accepting the Rockies position in their current state would seemingly have disaster written all over it for any potential candidate, regardless of the leash. But there are only so many opportunities out there, and for a guy like Weiss who's never really had any buzz surrounding him, it's certainly worth the gamble.
And beyond that, if he can find some degree of success next season with these obstacles in front of him, and he can help push Colorado even a little bit in the right direction, his stock as a manager could soar. Considering those low expectations and the unusual circumstances, it may even prove be a no-lose situation.
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