Clearly there are no qualified major league managerial candidates currently serving as assistant coaches or toiling in the minor leagues. That’s the only conclusion one can come to (well, either than a very deliberate attempt to spark a domestic incident in the Wally Backman household) after the Colorado Rockies plucked retired SS Walt Weiss from the high school coaching ranks and graced him with a one-year contract for 2013. If said move by Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd seems a tad desperate, the New York Daily News’ Bill Madden argues it is entirely within character.
In an effort to combat the increasing amount of carnage the mile-high air of Coors Field inflicted on an already wretched pitching staff, O’Dowd elected to experiment with a four-man rotation last summer, limiting his starters to 75 pitches as a way to keep them from facing a lineup a third time. The result was a very marginal improvement, and the Rockies still lost 98 games, with Jim Tracy resigning in disgust as manager over the way the organization was being operated, walking away from $1.4 million. What further raised eyebrows around baseball over the Weiss hiring was that, before O’Dowd and team owner Dick Monfort settled on the gritty 14-year former infielder with Oakland, Florida, Colorado and Atlanta, they actually interviewed Jason Giambi — who is finishing out his career as a pinch-hitter for them — twice for the job.
“You really have to wonder what they’re doing over there,” said one National League GM. “Giambi? Are they kidding? Guess they’d be okay with 4 a.m. curfews. I think Walt has a lot of the right elements it takes for a big league manager, but to go from coaching high school is a quantum leap. It doesn’t say much either for all their coaches and minor league managers.”
Nor does it say much for how O’Dowd regards managers that his assistant, Bill Geivett, has an office right off the Rockies’ clubhouse. That, as much as anything, was what drove Tracy out of there, and ought to be a cautionary sign for Weiss that, unlike Ventura and Matheny, someone will be watching over his shoulder and monitoring his clubhouse every day.