DOES WALT WEISS COME BACK IN 2015? DOES HE WANT TO? WHAT IS THE BEST SET-UP FOR THE TEAM AND ORGANIZATIONS?
As 2012 came to an end man of us were dismayed that the team was even considering bringing back Jim Tracy, a manager who was good at inheriting a team in trouble and getting one good season out of it but not at running a team full-bore. But with their decision to add Bill Geivett to the offices of the daily running of the team Tracy quit and Walt Weiss was hired. Also the team brought in Dante Bichette last year and hitting coach Brady Doyle this year. Jim Wright came back as the pitching coach, while the Bo McLaughlin in the bullpen, and Tom Runnells running the bench job. In addition we have Mark Wiley handling the pitching from an organizational point-of-view and Dan O’Dowd as the GM in charge of the developmental side of the club.
A few things we need to be honest about:
1) The Monforts are not selling the team…get over dreams of it happening. And they are loyal people. They want to win, because as they said, you make more money winning, going to the playoffs, and the overall value of the team increases from this as well. I know a lot of folks don’t like the Monforts. I think they are decent owners. There are a lot worse out there. But regardless of whether you like them or not, they are not going away.
2) Bill Geivett being thrown under the bus in the interview by Monfort wasn’t a slip of the tongue. Given the tension between Weiss and Geivett, Monfort was telling Geivett that Weiss isn’t going to pay for the team’s failure this year, you will. The major league team had depth – I have praised them for this from day one. It just didn’t have enough depth. Is that Geivett’s problem? But it is now clear the move to have two GMs, Geivett and O’Dowd, with Geivett in the day-to-day offices was a mistake.
3) The team knew when it hired Weiss there would be a learning curve as there has been for all the players-direct-to-manager have faced. Note by the way that Weiss, Gibson, Ventura, and Redmond have all failed to produce winners. The wave that started with Gibson and that one year (a lucky year in hindsight), may have crested. Having a solid bench-coach has been key, so Tom Runnells decision to stay or go will be key as well.
Those things known, here is what the team has to learn the next two months:
1) The team’s prospect quality has risen steadily the past few years and both O’Dowd, Wiley, and the scouting team deserve a lot of praise. I know people don’t like O’Dowd, but look at the quality of the players at every level of this team’s minors program is surprisingly good. Unless O’Dowd does decide to leave to be with his kid in Florida, his job is likely safe. But what does Bill Geivett have to do to save his job? I am guessing that Weiss has to be okay with the arrangement and the major league team has to play much better (finish with 78 or so wins maybe?).
2) Does Weiss come back? I am not sure what metrics the team is using to evaluate his development (I have some suggestions if they are interested). But the bullpen management has been an issue as has his decision to send starters out one inning to long on a consistent basis. In the end that is Weiss’s decision. He has yet to have a full-hand to play from day 1 in his two years. As long as the team keeps playing hard (and they do that), respects Weiss, and they see continued development, I think the team will keep Weiss…if he wants to stay.
3) Wright and McLaughlin have been as good as you can be in this environment. Jim is not young, but he loves developing young pitchers and he is about to have the mother lode. Does he want to come back one more season at least to see this group develop and shine?
4) Given that the hitting woes on the road have not improved under Doyle (despite early season success with hitting early in the count), do they replace the hitting coach again? Is there a choice of hitting coach that can solve that problem? Or do you play like the Padres on the road and the Red Sox at home?
5) Is the program they set forward in early 2013 still working? If so, stick with it. If they decide to go in another direction (go for more power hitters, or more power pitchers, or speed or….whatever).
6) Will Runnells return? If he doesn’t or if they feel they need a change, now is the time to start looking around the league for a good choice of bench coaches (the same is happening looking at General Managers and Asst GMs)?
7) Do they make a major change to the dimension of Coors Field? This has been talked about a lot lately and it makes a lot of sense in the abstract. Running the numbers through this off-season will need to be made, because a change to the fields would change what you need from your left fielder and right fielder, and that means dimension changes have to be decided before the World Series (I assume they need approval from the MLB). Of course they can do charting on the issue, but if they are serious about seeing how the team might play in a small outfield, they can position all the outfielders more shallow and played over somewhat.
Those are the 5 groups of things I think we have learned or are still learning in this lost season. The good news is that there has been a chance to learn. The problem going forward is how to take what is learned and make the best decision going forward. Alas, human beings are not machines. Injuries, psychology, environment, and just plain bad luck all play a role in how well you use the information that you learn from a season like this. But I have to say, the more I look at this season, the more I come to believe the lessons learned here will enable this team to be substantially better prepared to win next year. Whether that happens no one knows yet. But being an optimist, I think the team will use the lessons learned well.