Being a major league manager is a lot more difficult than it sounds.
I wrote in this space earlier this season that all that should be expected from a skipper is an ability to manage egos in the clubhouse and put the team on the field in the best position to win games. In a vacuum, those things sound simple.
But clearly, they're not. Managing a baseball team has flat-out eaten alive some of the strongest men you'll find. You don't have to look much further than Denver to see that. Jim Tracy was reportedly exhausted when he stepped down from his post as Rockies manager in 2012, citing he was not "the right man for the job any longer."
Years before that, Jim Leyland quit after a trying 1999 season that left him "burned out."
"It was almost impossible to manage a pitching staff when I was there," Leyland told MLB.com in 2011. "It was frustrating for me ... I didn't think I was going to manage again."
Sixteen years later, the man at the helm of the Rockies is still experiencing the same issues.
Walt Weiss doesn't seem to have any problems managing his clubhouse. It's a much more upbeat -- and much less awkward place -- this season than it was when former assistant general manager Bill Geivett occupied an office there. The Rockies' star players are around for interviews, both before and after games. Weiss himself has always been a pleasure to speak with. And, for what it's worth, the players get along and seemingly want to go to battle for one another.
But, hoo boy, is Weiss having problems with the other thing. The Rockies weren't going to be good this season anyway. The pitching staff is too thin, the star veterans are too injury prone and the promising young talent is too inexperienced. However, their manager largely isn't doing them any favors.
Weiss' management of the bullpen has been suspect at best -- particularly, his usage of Boone Logan, a left-handed specialist who has inexplicably been allowed to face right-handed hitters 76 times. In those situations, Logan has allowed a .338/.408/.529 line.
And of course, there was the forgettable occurrence earlier this season in Houston of Weiss electing to stick with "Tough Out" Rafael Ynoa in a crucial spot late in the game instead of using available pinch hitter Carlos Gonzalez,who was coming alive at the plate in the very beginning of what has been an insane 2½-month hot streak. Additonally, there is the continued presence of Daniel Descalso, a scrappy veteran who provides little value otherwise, on a roster that would be better suited to include Triple-A shortstop Cristhian Adames.
The blame for the latter problem doesn't fall solely on the shoulders of Weiss. After all, Jeff Bridich -- the man who constructed the roster -- signed Descalso to a fairly lucrative free-agent contract despite the infielder being non-tendered by the Cardinals. But Weiss was told he would be given more of a say in the architecture of the team he manages, and it's hard not to imagine that Weiss -- a gritty, scrappy player himself in the 1980s and '90s -- was all in on, and maybe even the conductor of, the Descalso train.
And the baserunning -- oh, lord, the baserunning. The Rockies run themselves into more outs than seemingly every other team in the game. Attempting so many stolen bases and hit-and-runs, particularly at Coors Field where offense creates itself, is just asking for bad things to happen. And they do. A lot.
The Rockies, in spite of all of their manager's shortcomings, don't appear to be in a hurry to make any changes at the position. That's obviously fine with Weiss, who is still in his first big league managing job -- or coaching job of any kind -- and is in no hurry to lose it, all challenges aside. From the Denver Post:
"Yes. I want to see this thing through. I've got a lot invested here. I've spent 14 years with this organization. I love this coaching staff. I think the staff has really done a great job."
Leading a team of big league players during a phase as clearly devoid of the importance of wins and losses can't be easy, so jumping on Weiss for the last part of that quote may not be the best response. But has he done a great job despite the many unique issues he has to deal with on a daily basis? When taking into account some of the things discussed above, that question might warrant a different answer.
Of course, Weiss has done everything asked of him by the Rockies' new front office. He has fully implemented the shift despite some resistance from his infielders. He's adhered to workload restrictions for young pitchers, and in doing so, has perhaps knowingly sacrificed wins in many cases. His putrid winning percentage -- .427 entering Tuesday -- is the worst in team history but isn't completely his fault.
It's just that Weiss isn't blameless, either. And he doesn't appear to have what it takes to manage a contender, if the Rockies happen to become one sometime in the next few years.
Colorado must decide if Weiss playing good soldier during a season so focused on the future is enough to bring him back in what could be another phase of the rebuild. Even the best manager in the game couldn't win with the Rockies as they're currently constructed, but if putting players in a position to succeed is viewed as a key part of their development, Bridich and his staff have to at least entertain making a change at skipper.