DENVER -- The Rockies named one of the most popular players of their early days, Walt Weiss, as their new manager on Wednesday night.The Rockies reached out to their fans by informing their season-ticket holders via e-mail before making an official announcement. They will hold an introductory news conference, which can be seen live on MLB.com and ColoradoRockies.com, on Friday at noon MT. Weiss replaces Jim Tracy, who resigned on Oct. 7 after going 294-308 between May 2009 and the end of the 2012 season. Weiss becomes the sixth manager in the history of the Rockies, who will begin their 21st season in 2013. Rockies owner and CEO Dick Monfort, general manager Dan O'Dowd and senior vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett, who conducted extensive interviews with four finalists at Coors Field in recent days, met during the Major League Baseball General Managers Meetings in Indian Wells, Calif., and reached the final decision. Weiss, who turns 49 on Nov. 28, will be introduced at a news conference at Coors Field on Friday. Weiss had a 14-year career as a shortstop in the Majors, which included spending 1994-97 with the Rockies. A switch-hitter, Weiss represented the Braves in the 1998 All-Star Game at Coors Field after hitting .312 (67-for-215) with 11 doubles, one triple and 18 RBIs in 61 first-half games. Weiss was the 1988 American League Rookie of the Year with the Athletics and was on the 1989 World Series championship team.
After he completed his career with the Braves in 2000, Weiss retired to the Denver area.Weiss worked for the Rockies as a special instructor and advisor to the front office from 2002-08, before he left professional baseball to spend time with his family. Last year, Weiss took over as head baseball coach at Regis Jesuit High School, in Aurora, Colo., a team that included his son Brody. He led the team to a 20-6 record. Weiss lives in Franktown, with his wife, Terri, and four sons, Blake, Brody, Bo and Brock. During the interview process, Weiss called the Rockies and on Friday had an interview with Monfort, O'Dowd and Geivett at Coors Field. The Rockies clearly were impressed. After several weeks of searching, the Rockies narrowed their list of candidates to Weiss, D-backs third-base coach Matt Williams, Rockies bench coach Tom Runnells and veteran first baseman and pinch-hitter Jason Giambi, who played with the Rockies from late 2009 through last season and was willing to retire to become manager. Sources were saying Tuesday and Wednesday that Weiss and Williams were considered finalists, but the club said all four were in consideration. In addition to the final four candidates, the Rockies talked to former White Sox and Mets manager Jerry Manuel, former Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, former Rockies second baseman Eric Young and Rangers Double-A manager Steve Buechele. Colorado is coming off a 64-98 finish -- last in the National League West and the worst record in Rockies history. During the season, the Rockies made several changes, such as going with a four-man pitching rotation with relievers also on a rotation, and they moved Geivett -- a veteran of player development and scouting -- into the clubhouse with the team home and road. The club struggled throughout last season partly because of ineffectiveness and inexperience in the pitching rotation and partly because of injuries to key veteran position players such as shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, first baseman Todd Helton, outfielder-first baseman Michael Cuddyer and catcher Ramon Hernandez. None of the aforementioned players made it to the end of the regular season healthy. In addition, two key starters missed significant time with injuries. Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin missed more than four months with a nerve problem in his chest and lefty Jorge De La Rosa was limited to three late-season starts because of setbacks he suffered while trying to come back from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in 2011. The Rockies finished the season with hope because of players who emerged and rookies who had significant playing time and accomplishments. Weiss will hope to build upon the personnel he'll inherit. Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez earned his first All-Star Game trip and, despite often struggling while trying to carry the offense, put up solid numbers and took home his second career Rawlings Gold Glove Award. Center fielder Dexter Fowler and infielder Chris Nelson, both of whom received big bonuses after being drafted, each finished at the .300 mark in batting average. Catcher Wilin Rosario was pushed into more playing time than the Rockies expected because of Hernandez's injury, but he set a Rockies rookie record with 28 home runs. Jordan Pacheco, who played third base and first base, led NL rookies with a .309 batting average. Josh Rutledge, called up from Double-A Tulsa to play short after Tulowitzki's season-ending left groin injury, hit .273 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs in 73 games. As the regular season ended, Tracy said he was excited about the roster but wanted to understand how the team would be run. After meeting with Geivett, he resigned in what was seen as a surprise move. The Rockies want the manager to be a key to a collaborative effort between the front office and the field. The manager will be heavily involved in forming the coaching staff, but there are clearly people from the old staff that they like. Runnells is a clear candidate to remain in some capacity. First-base coach Glenallen Hill is still with the organization, and Bo McLaughlin and Jim Wright -- who served as co-pitching coaches after Bob Apodaca resigned in late June -- are liked by club management. Heavily involved in the pitching coach decision will be longtime Major League pitching coach Mark Wiley, who was hired in October in the newly created position of director of pitching operations. Wiley will set policies and practices in place governing how the club selects and trains pitches, and will have a voice in the Major League staff's approach. Previous Rockies managers are Don Baylor (1993-98), Jim Leyland (1999), Buddy Bell (2000-02), Clint Hurdle (2002-09) and Tracy. The Rockies have been to the playoffs three times, under Baylor in 1995, Hurdle in 2007, when they went to the World Series, and Tracy in 2009.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.