Rookie managers are newest rage

Rookie managers are newest rage

Rookie managers are newest rage
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It was considered somewhat surprising when two aspiring contenders hired young, untested rookie managers last offseason.

It was considered somewhat surprising when Mike Matheny took the Cardinals to the National League Championship Series and Robin Ventura kept the White Sox in contention all season.

And as a result, it's absolutely no surprise at all that other clubs have followed that lead this offseason. When the managers were made available to the media during the Winter Meetings this week at the Opryland Hotel, Walt Weiss, Bo Porter and Mike Redmond sat in the hot seat for the Rockies, Astros and Marlins. In the extremely competitive world of Major League Baseball, it never takes long for a successful idea to be copied.

Redmond managed a couple years at Class A. Porter and Weiss are brand new to the demanding position ... although Weiss did coach Regis Jesuit to the Colorado state high school finals.

The working theory seems to be that younger guys who aren't as far removed from their playing days -- Redmond's career ended in 2010 -- can better relate to this generation and that outweighs any lack of in-game experience.

"I think Robin and Mike certainly knocked down some walls for someone like me," Weiss said. "What do we need to have success? I think the bottom line is you're trying to lead men. And for me, I think we've got to try to create an environment where we respect each other and we trust each other, and then you've got a chance at something special.

"If you're just counting on running your talent out there, it's a tough league. It's tough to win just doing that. So we've got to create an environment that's different -- not necessarily different, but special. And you do that by developing relationships and caring for one another and earning the respect of each other. For me, that's more important than the X's and O's right now."

Weiss added that while his on-field experience may provide an in, he'll need to work to develop a good relationship with the clubhouse.

"I think you may start out with some credibility, but you've got to maintain that," Weiss said. "You've got to earn it daily, or it's fleeting if you don't take care of it. It's nice to have that on Day 1, and I don't know if that'll be the case, but I won't take that for granted. But that's something that you've got to earn, you've got to keep earning."

Redmond said he's prepared for the challenge.

"I played 13 years in the big leagues, and I think I have a lot of experience," Redmond said. "You know, I went down, I managed, I made out lineups. I had a lot of freedom as a Minor League manager to do what I want. So I feel like I'm ready for this.

"The players are better [than in Class A] and hit the ball farther and the pitchers, whatever. But I've been in it for, what, 20 years now professionally. You know, I've always had good instincts, I've always trusted my instincts as a catcher. I know that I still love to win and love to compete. Obviously I can't be out on the field anymore, but man, I get just as fired up as I did as a player and excited. This is what I've wanted to do my whole career, and some people say maybe that this was my destiny to be a big league manager. Like I said in my press conference today, my first baseball card said, 'Will be a coach when his playing days are over.' I was able to fight that off for quite a few years, but here we are."

That doesn't mean teams throw their managers into a sink-or-swim situation, though. In each case, care is taken to surround him with a veteran coaching staff.

"I think that's extremely important, and that's why we actually went a little bit longer than most people would have liked with our hires," Porter said. "There was certain characteristics which we were looking for, understanding the dynamic of our ballclub, and that teaching will be a huge part of our coaching staff and being able to surround our players with the dynamic staff."

Weiss will have two former managers on his staff, Tom Runnells and Rene Lachemann.

"I don't know if you know, but I haven't done this before," Weiss said with a laugh. "So I want as many managers around me as possible. I'm going to have to lean on some guys and figure things out along the way. But I'm not afraid of that, and it helps to have guys like Latch and TR around me who not only have been around the game for a real long time, but in TR's case, he's been a bench coach in our park for the last several years. And Latch is a dinosaur, man, so he's seen about everything. Nothing is going to sneak up on him. To have a couple guys like that around is really, really going to be good for me to lean on."

Added Redmond: "Obviously the coaching staff is going to be huge and help us out. It's a team effort. It's going to be a team effort out there, and not just players, but coaches and front office. It's going to take a lot of work, a lot of communication. We've all got to be on the same page and get this thing headed in the right direction."

And given what happened last year, it wouldn't surprise anybody if Weiss, Redmond and Porter have some measure of success despite their lack of experience.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.