Walt Weiss: Former Rockies shortstop becomes manager
Last year, two teams hired managers without previous managerial experience. The White Sox hired Robin Ventura after Ozzie Guillen left to go to the Marlins. While Ventura hadn't even been a coach at the major league level, the White Sox nearly made the playoffs this year. Guillen wore out his welcome in the South Side and Ventura's style was a good change for them. After the Cardinals won the World Series last year, future Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa retired. After interviewing several candidates, GM John Mozeliak decided to go with his special assistant and former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny. There were some questions since Matheny had no prior experience. However, Matheny did a terrific job and nearly got the Redbirds back into the World Series this year.
This year, there has been 6 managerial openings. The Indians fired Manny Acta, and ended up going with former Red Sox manager Terry Francona. Cleveland almost went with former All Star catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., but decided on Francona instead. Alomar Jr. will be Cleveland's bench coach, though. The Red Sox fired Bobby Valentine after one disastrous season, and worked out a deal to bring Toronto's manager John Farrell to Boston. Farrell had been a pitching coach previously with the Red Sox. Toronto still doesn't have a manager yet. They have interviewed Alomar Jr. and Tim Wallach, but its rumored they want someone with previous experience.
The Astros have lost 100 games two years in a row, and will be moving to the American League next year. They went with 40 year old Nationals coach Bo Porter to be their manager. Porter briefly played in the big leagues at the turn of the century, and was a journeyman minor leaguer. He has held a variety of minor and major league coaching jobs since retiring as a player. The Astros are in sorry shape, and Porter will have his work cut out for him in Houston.
The Marlins signed Guillen to a four year contract after luring him from the White Sox last year. Miami spent a bunch of money in the offseason, acquiring Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Carlos Zambrano, and Heath Bell. However, Miami had a dissapointing year and finished in last place. Hanley Ramirez, Gaby Sanchez, Anibal Sanchez, and Omar Infante were traded in July in a fire sale. Guillen also made negative headlines praising Fidel Castro and said he gets wasted on every road trip. The Marlins decided to go a different route, and went with former catcher Mike Redmond. Redmond played for over 10 years in the big leagues, and was a member of the 2003 World Champion Marlins team. Redmond had been managing in the Blue Jays farm system the last two years. Jim Leyland and Jack McKeon both highly recommended Redmond as a manager.
Jim Tracy resigned as Rockies manager after a frustrating last place finish. Colorado did a search, and considered bench coach Tom Runnels and even Jason Giambi to be manager. However, they went with former shortstop Walt Weiss. Weiss played with the Rockies from 1994 to 1997. He also played with the Athletics, Marlins, and Braves. Weiss was the 1988 AL Rookie of the Year, and part of the Athletics 1989 World Champions. However, Weiss has only managed at the high school level and was a special assistant to GM Dan O'Dowd last season. Weiss did play for La Russa and Bobby Cox during his career, so I imagined he learned a few things from them.
Also, the Nationals have brought back Davey Johnson for one more season. The Nationals made the playoffs for the first time since 1981 when they were the Expos this past season. Johnson is 70 years old and the oldest manager in the game right now. Johnson will retire at the end of the 2013 season and move into a consultant's role. Johnson has led 4 different teams into the playoffs, including the Mets, Reds, Orioles, along with the Nats.