You gotta live it every day
General manager Mark Shapiro met with the media this afternoon. He makes it a point to have these sessions with reporters anytime the club is mired in a particularly rough stretch, and I, for one, give him credit for that.
You can probably guess what the chief topic was today — the job security of Eric Wedge.
Shapiro expressed nothing but confidence in Wedge and his staff and said he is convinced the energy and effort level by all involved is where it needs to be.
“I feel the answers are here,” Shapiro said, “with Eric and this coaching staff and these players.”
You can get the full spectrum of Shapiro’s thoughts in my story on Indians.com, which should be up soon.
In the meantime, the minutia.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- To me, the most interesting news of the day is that RHP Hector Rondon has moved from the Double-A Akron rotation to the bullpen. This is considered bold, by Tribe standards, because while there is clearly an emphasis on the bullpen at present, the need for depth in the rotation is also apparent. This just shows how desperate the Indians are for back-end relief help, and Rondon, possessor of a 5-0 record, 1.23 ERA, .208 average against, 0.92 WHIP, 26 strikeouts and five walks in 29 1/3 innings, figures to provide it. He was slated to start for Akron tonight but was instead available out of the ‘pen.
- Rondon is not the first player making this move this year, just the latest. Aaron Laffey did it at the big-league level, and Steven Wright, Frank Herrmann and Zach Putnam have done it in the Minors. Are the Indians mortgaging their future to save the ’09 bullpen? This is what Shapiro had to say when asked that question: “We have a very careful process of balancing and understanding the importance of the future and respecting that in all of our decisions. Yet the goal is to win championships in this ballpark, and there’s a time when that focus shifts to taking advantage of that window of opportunity. There’s some sense of urgency and importance to where we are as a Major League team right now. That balance and pendulum is going to shift toward that team right now.”
- So the Indians are getting a little more bold with their thinking and their lineup – or at least that’s the plan. Wedge started Matt LaPorta against a left-hander tonight, which was an obvious move, but both Wedge and Shapiro said to expect to see more of LaPorta in the coming days. He’ll get regular opportunities at first base (which was his position in college) and in the outfield, likely at the expense of David Dellucci and Ben Francisco.
- With Jamey Carroll on board, Wedge is planning on giving Jhonny Peralta some time at third base. Asdrubal Cabrera can, of course, move over to short, and the right-handed Carroll and left-handed Valbuena offer balanced options at second base. Mark DeRosa can expect to see more time at first base and in the outfield.
- Basically nothing in the lineup is set in stone right now — not even, as mentioned yesterday, Wedge’s long-standing stubbornness regarding Grady Sizemore and the leadoff spot. “Things can change daily,” Wedge said.
- Also in the Minors today, 1B Matt McBride has moved up from Kinston to Akron. It was a well-earned promotion. McBride was batting .405 with 15 doubles, six homers and 36 RBIs in 31 games. He was converted from catcher to first base this season.
- Bob Feller will hold a book signing of his “Little Blue Book of Baseball Wisdom” during tomorrow’s afternoon game. If you’re in attendance (I’m talking to YOU, Mike Kovack!), look for Bob outside Section 156.
- Sitting in the Tribe clubhouse today was a well-crafted card from the students of Willoughby Middle School. Jensen Lewis visited the school today as part of The Plain Dealer’s Newspapers in Education program.