DENVER (The Sports Xchange) – Hiring a manager will be the first bit of offseason business for the Colorado Rockies.
The day after the season ended, Walt Weiss resigned after managing the club for four seasons. He was hired by former general manager Dan O’Dowd to replace Jim Tracy after the 2012 season in which the Rockies lost a franchise-record 98 games.
In four years, Weiss compiled a 283-365 record, including a 75-87 mark this season.
Current general manager Jeff Bridich rose to his position following the 2014 season after three years as the player-development director. He and Weiss never forged a good working relationship, and when Weiss’ three-year contract expired at the conclusion of this season, the manager decided to move on.
Weiss said he felt his working relationship with Bridich “wasn’t a cohesive one or a productive one. That’s the bottom line,” adding that his decision was “just best for everybody.”
Since there were no talks during the season about extending Weiss’ contract, it was a telltale sign that Weiss’ tenure was winding down. Bridich concurred with Weiss’ assessment of the situation.
“I would agree with Walt that it was time to move on,” Bridich said, “and I think over the course of two years with he as manager and me as the GM, we put in a lot of work to try to make the relationship work. I’m proud of that — that we committed to each other moving forward. It could’ve been different when changes were made in the front office two years ago.”
Bridich said the Rockies would consider both internal and external candidates and that major league managing experience would be one factor considered but not a job prerequisite.
Triple-A Albuquerque manager Glenallen Hill will be a candidate, Bridich said. Hill spent six seasons on the Rockies’ major league staff and just finished his fourth season managing the organization’s top minor league affiliate. He has never managed in the big leagues.
The new manager will take over a team that endured a franchise-record-tying sixth consecutive losing season but has exciting possibilities.
The Rockies are coming off a 75-win season, up from 68 victories in 2015 and their best showing since their 83-win season in 2010, the last time they finished above .500.
A host of young foundational pieces contributed significantly this year, including starting pitchers Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson, shortstop Trevor Story, outfielder David Dahl, catcher Tony Wolters and reliever Carlos Estevez. All except Gray were among the franchise-record-tying 12 players who made their major league debut this year, a group that includes several September arrivals who loom large in future plans.
The Rockies’ rotation, for the most part a young group, finished with a 4.79 ERA, the seventh best in the franchise’s 24-year history. However, the bullpen blew 28 saves and finished with a major-league-worst 5.13 ERA. It was the highest ERA by the Colorado relief corps since 2004 and the sixth highest in club history.
The bullpen’s struggles resulted in late losses that are reflected in the Rockies’ 12-20 record in one-run games — the fewest wins by any major league team in such contests.
Colorado enigmatically went 40-40 against teams that were .500 or better but just 35-47 against sub-.500 teams.
The Rockies won nine of 10 games during a 14-5 surge right after the All-Star break that nudged their record to 54-53 on Aug. 3. However, that was four days after Story, the slugging rookie shortstop, was lost for the balance of the season with a thumb injury.
His absence weakened both the lineup and the defense, and that coupled with the bullpen’s woes in the final two months resulted in the Rockies going 21-34 after they had crept above .500.
After July 31, Colorado went 6-20 on the road with one series win. That was in late August at Washington, a division-winning team whom the Rockies also beat on a series at Coors Field.
The Rockies finished 42-39 at home, a six-game improvement over 2015 but not good enough for a team that historically struggles on the road — Colorado’s lone winning season on the road was 41-40 in 2009.
The Rockies, who have made the postseason three times, the last in 2009, see contending in 2017 as a realistic possibility, an attainable goal and not just something to pay lip service to.
“It should be part our thought process and our goal-making,” Bridich said during the final week of the season. “You go back two winters ago, and was it really realistic for us to talk about that? That’s why we didn’t do it. The goal was to talk about (playing) meaningful games.
“There were some intrinsic and some intangible things that we had to cross off the list before we could realistically start talking about playoffs and thinking about playoffs. You know what? It’s a good thing that we should start thinking that way as an organization and a group.”