The Colorado Rockies and manager Walt Weiss have agreed to a three-year contract extension. Weiss was surprisingly hired by the club before the 2013 season despite no managerial experience in the major or minor leagues.
While Colorado scuffled to a 74-88 record in 2013, they were just four games under .500 at 46-50 at the All-Star Break before falling off a cliff and finishing 28-38. But considering the team's franchise-worst 64-98 record in 2012, the team will be happy with that improvement. The Rockies also saw their run differential jump from -132 in 2012 under departed manager Jim Tracy to -54 in 2013 under Weiss, which isn't something to sneeze at.
Weiss didn't exactly have a much easier path to success than Tracy. Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki logged 512 plate appearances, but missed a month of time heading into the All-Star Break with a fractured rib, sending Colorado's season into a death spiral. When Tulowitzki went on the DL, the Rockies were 35-31. When he came off, they were 44-48, and that was it for any Postseason hopes. Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez also missed a huge chunk of time thanks to issues with his right middle finger that cost him 34 games, nearly all of which were in the second half. Who knows what would have happened with the Rockies if each of those players played 150 games? But hey, that's something that seems like wishful thinking at this point.
I think where Weiss' influence comes into play the most is with the Rockies pitching staff. After having just one pitcher crack 100 innings in 2012 under Tracy and the ridiculous piggyback system instituted by the organization, the Rockies had four of their five starters break 100 innings in 2013 with a revolving steam of mediocre veterans mainly occupying the fifth spot in the rotation. It's not fair to damn Tracy for working with what he was given, and if Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge de la Rosa were healthy for him, maybe the club could have won more games. The club's ERA improved from 5.22 in 2012 to 4.44 in 2013, and their FIP this past year was a downright solid 3.96.
We've said a lot of nasty things about the Rockies here on TOC in the past. But they made a bold choice with Weiss, and it was one that could have either worked out well or totally blew up in their faces. Based on their improvements in 2013, I'd call his hiring a relative success, and a much better move than hiring a retread like say, Jim Riggleman (not that he was a candidate, but I digress). Maybe this hiring, and Mike Matheny's hiring in St Louis, will spur more clubs to hire neophytes like Cal Ripken Jr (who has been tied to the Nationals job) instead of simply picking from the same pool of candidates. Mariners, take note.