No use jiving, no use joking… everything is broken
Reading through your comments here and those elsewhere in the Internet stratosphere, it’s obvious that the most vocal of Tribe fans are overwhelmingly in favor of the Indians making a managerial change.
And maybe that change will happen. If so, it probably wouldn’t happen until the All-Star break, and it might not happen until season’s end, if at all. But a team can only look this bad so long before changes are made — and managerial changes are often a part of that process. We’ll just have to wait and see.
The Indians are 29-42, entering tonight’s scintillating series opener against the Pirates. You can point to Eric Wedge’s constant lineup juggling, his snake-bitten bullpen moves and some questionable in-game decisions, and you can certainly make an argument that he should take the fall for that record. When a team has sunk this low (only the Nationals, at 20-47, have a worse record, and they entered the season with no expectations to contend whatsoever) this late in the year, arguments in favor of the manager tend to sound like spin and excuses.
All that being said, I have not read one argument or witnessed one sustained stretch of play this season that has convinced me that the Indians ridding themselves of Wedge would be the difference-maker. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe the Indians could have used his dismissal as a wake-up call to a stagnant ballclub. But I’m afraid that time, if it even existed, has passed for 2009. The Indians are 10 games out on June 23, which does not exactly bode well for AL Central survival — no matter how poor the AL Central is this season.
Relieving Wedge of his duties at this juncture, then, would also look like a spin job and a desperate search for an excuse. GM Mark Shapiro called the notion a “cop-out,” and he’s right. Because the fact of the matter is that Wedge inherited a poorly constructed ballclub. The rotation, as we all knew entering the season, was suspect. The bullpen, as few of us predicted going into the year, was a disaster. And the team was ill-equipped in the upper levels of the farm system to offset the multitude of injuries and the dazzling display of ineffectiveness affecting some key members of the ballclub, most notably Fausto Carmona and Rafael Perez.
These are problems that are more accurately pinned on the front office, not the manager.
Still, this is a business, and the Indians have to keep the interests of their fans in mind with each move they make. Maybe Wedge will get the axe at some point, and maybe those fans who are ranting and raving about his performance will be temporarily appeased. And again, maybe that would have a positive impact on this club’s play.
But I’m watching a ballclub that has plenty of problems, managerial and otherwise. And no matter how much venom I read in the comments and on the message boards, I don’t see a quick fix. All I see are a lot of excuses for a team that has simply not had the talent or the depth to contend — or even avoid the cellar — in what might be baseball’s worst division.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Grady Sizemore’s back, but he won’t be in the lineup on an everyday basis. At least not this week. Wedge didn’t get into specifics, other than to say that Sizemore will be considered on a day to day basis and might be used as a DH when the team returns to playing in AL parks.
- Asdrubal Cabrera (sprained left shoulder joint) begins his rehab at Double-A Akron tonight and will likely play two games before the Indians evaluate him again. He could be back with the club as soon as Thursday.
- Cabrera will return to the leadoff spot when he comes back. As a result, Sizemore is back in the No. 2 spot.
- Rafael Betancourt threw a 30-pitch bullpen session today, using just his fastball and changeup. He threw curveballs off flat ground. Betancourt is three weeks removed from straining his right groin, and he said he feels great physically. Now, he just has to get back in the flow of pitching after the long layoff. He’s scheduled to throw another bullpen Thursday.
- Tony Sipp has become the Tribe’s elevator man of ’09, as this is his third promotion to the big leagues. He said in his last outing at Columbus, he got a strikeout on a wild pitch with a split-fingered fastball he hadn’t thrown since college. “I was going down memory lane,” he said. Unfortunately, catcher Damaso Espino had called for a changeup, so he didn’t know the pitch was coming. Hence, the wild pitch.
- The Indians are not carrying three lefties in the bullpen by design, Wedge said. “We’re just looking for the best arms and the best options we can have as we move forward,” he said. “You’re always looking for something to click.”
- Ryan Garko remains day to day with a sprained wrist.
- Right-handed reliever Greg Aquino cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Columbus.
- Another Draft pick has signed on with the Tribe. This time, it’s 18th-round selection Dwight Childs, a catcher out of the University of Arizona. The Indians have signed 19 selections and 15 of their top 19 picks. The Tribe also signed left-hander Ryan Anthony (Emporia State) and infielder Dan DeGeorge (Princeton) to non-drafted free agent Minor League contracts.
- The Indians are just 9-21 in Interleague Play over the last two years.
- In the course of losing seven of eight games, the Tribe has blown leads of five runs twice and seven runs once.
- Finally, don’t forget about the Mystery Ball charity event taking place during Saturday’s game against the Reds. For $50, you get one of 1,200 baseballs signed by players, coaches and managers from the Indians and around MLB. Tickets will be sold at Gates A and C once gates open. A silent auction will also take place with items such as a Kerry Wood game-used glove and a Victor Martinez catching mask. All proceeds benefit the Providence House.