November 8, 2012
What the Recent Trend Toward Inexperienced Managers Means
The Colorado Rockies have announced the hiring of new manager Walt Weiss, and it’s an interesting case study in what might be a new trend in managerial hiring. Weiss had a long and fine career as a player, split mainly between Oakland and Colorado. After that, he turned to coaching… at the high school level. Weiss is making the jump straight to the majors from Regis Jesuit High School (although notably he has been a minor-league instructor and scout in the Rockies’ system until now.)
Weiss wasn’t even the most inexperienced manager under consideration by the Rockies; they were seriously considering Jason Giambi, who actually played for the team in 2012. Such a thing would not have been entirely unprecedented—through much of baseball history it wasn’t unheard of to have players themselves managing—but it’s certainly not very common these days.
It’s really hard to know what to say about Weiss in particular—evaluating major-league managers is hard enough as it is, and evaluating high school managers with an eye to how they’ll do as major-league managers is several orders of magnitude more difficult. What we do know is that he’s hung around the Rockies’ organization long after his days there as a player ended, and so the team is very comfortable with whom and what they’ll be getting. To the rest of us, he’s a cipher.
This is the second time this offseason that a team has hired someone with no major-league experience to manage. The Marlins hired Mike Redmond to fill the vacancy that Ozzie Guillen left when he opened his mouth so wide he swallowed himself.
(In the brief history of their franchise the Marlins have had 12 different managers, and two—John Boles and Jack McKeon—have had multiple tours of duty. That’s a lot of managers. And let it not be said that these were guys nobody else wanted. Three of these ex-managers—Jim Leyland, Joe Girardi, and Fredi González—were managers of teams that made the postseason last season. What’s striking is how unstable the Marlins have been at manager—they used five managers to get through three seasons of baseball, which is rather exceptional.
So nobody should be surprised if Redmond is fired soon. And given the franchise’s history, I don’t know that anyone should read much into how that reflects on Redmond. It’s not you, it’s the Marlins. They’re just not ready for commitment. You’re a great manager and maybe if things were a little different they could see themselves spending the rest of the next four seasons with you, but they’re not ready to be tied down yet. They hope you understand and wish you the best of luck. Now give them back their CDs and stop calling.)