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 wedge.jpgjuggling, 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.

~AC

18 Comments

“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.”
Well said, the comments have been very intense recently and people need to relax, accept what’s happening and focus towards something positive, even if it’s the 2010 season.

I agree with what you are saying for the most part, I am trying to remain positive. But two points I have made recently which I will repeat are, 1.) Any time someone accepts the position of Manager, they have to be willing to accept that at some point, they will almost certainly be relieved of their duties, whether it is their fault or not. Though he wasn’t fired, it happens to people like Joe Torre. That is just how the job works. You can’t fire the whole team, so you fire the coach. I also think someone made a good point recently about how Wedge seem’s to have lost some of the guys ears, as evidenced by Peralta, and I would say Shoppach to perhaps. If your players stop responding to you, than someone has to go. And 2.) If it is time to start looking towards 2010, if they are going to make a managerial change anyways, whether it is at the end of the season of the all-star break, what good does waiting do? If you are going to do it anyways, why not just do it and begin the next chapter now, so a new manager doesn’t have to spend the first few weeks or months of next season learning the players and instilling their system?

AC, as I mentioned in one of my comments, I don’t think firing Wedge is “spin” — I think it’s sending a message that we’re preparing for next year. And I, for one, would be interested in watching this team for the remainder of the season if I were seeing the building process for next season.
And let’s not forget the disastrous handling of Peralta and that Wedge, himself, has admitted to using Perez too much the last few seasons. Those things didn’t happen in a vacuum.
It’s one thing to play a rookie like Valbuena every day when he’s replacing an injured starter and we don’t have a better option, but it’s another thing to stick with a guy like Shoppach when we’re benching more productive bats to get him in the line-up.

Anthony,

With all due respect, any excuse to keep Wedge here is a “copout” not the other way around. Here is the problem, Mark Shapiro sees Eric Wedge as his “partner”. That says it all. I can understand and agree that a GM and a manager must get along with each other, but they should never EVER be “partners” in this. A Gm is a manager’s boss. They can be friends, but at the end of the day, a GM needs to be that boss. And if this team is playing poorly as they have, you can’t accept mediocrity. You just can’t, and I still refuse to see that Colorado, pound for pound is a better team than Cleveland. Jim Tracy and Clint Hurdle are polar oppisites. Maybe that would work, if we get a tough nose, in your face manager, not a mild mannered guy who golly gee whiz “respects” the game. I am sick of seeing that routine, because it doesn’t win. At the end of the day, if Wedge keeps his job, then Mark is saying that being 29-42, heading into tonight’s game is just fine, and that to me is unacceptable.

Well, if tonight was the beginning of the “building for next year” part of the season, it was a good one. My guess as to the rotation next season has a spot open, and David Huff did a nice job of showing that he has the potential to actually make the next step (unlike some AAAA pitchers who shall remain nameless).
Jhonny is, of course, finally hitting, and with power to the opposite field. Perhaps all the “Wedge is on the chopping block” talk has gotten him excited. If Jhonny can perform to where we know he’s capable, he’d be a nice third baseman for the next year or two until Hodges steps up.
And, of course, Grady returned. Let’s hope they stick with resting him regularly. As much as he dragged for the first part of this season, he really is the spark of this team (to go with Victor as its heart).
There’s no point in worrying about the bullpen anymore. It is what it is and Wood just needs to figure out what to fix before next year.

We beat the Pirates. Let’s get some perspective. Huff may have had a great outing and Jhonny may have gotten a hold of one, but the bullpen still almost blew it and we’re still 10 games out. If we fire Wedge, who gets brought in? Wedge may not be great, but he’s better than the alternatives.

“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.”

AC, does this above sentence not speak volumes to the undeniable fact that the organization overvalues their own talent? Many of us have said this countless times about Mark Shapiro but it has been said that they make these decisions together. The problem I have is that while Shaprio is just as culpable as Wedge is for this recent run of uninspiring baseball it is up to Eric to make a lineup that works given the talent on the 25 man roster. Wedge’s veteran loyalties always seem to get in the way of potential progress. For my point there I will reference Brandon Phllips and Matt LaPorta. For a minor league guy Wedge is alarmingly veteran-bound in terms of playing time. Why call up young players to sit the bench? Calling up guys to sit the bench is reserved for guys like Tony Graffinino. Oh that’s right. We call up Graffinino rather than finding playing time for someone like Josh Barfield. Wedge’s decisions are terribly flawed. Shapiro is also to blame. Sports is a dirty business and one particular person is never 100% to blame but the figurehead typically gets too much credit for failures and not enough for successes.

friendofthefeather, I’m not sure who you were responding to, but my comments regarding the game were all about perspective. At this point, wins and losses are irrelevant. The season is over. It’s time to focus on next season, and today was a nice indication that we really do have some potential on this team.
AM, while you know I’m a fan of calling up the youngsters for some regular time from here on out, I’m going to beat a dead horse here and say that Jordan Brown should get the call. If we go by straight numbers, Brown is the top dog out of Columbus these days (but not by much). LaPorta’s never played a full season in AAA, so I’d be fine with leaving him down there to get some experience and let him make the leap next year. But if they hope to get anything out of Brown (even as trade bait), they need to give him the call.
I mean, Chris Gimenez was hitting .235 in Columbus and HE was playing first today. It’s baffling….
…and another reason why Wedge isn’t working.

OK – here’s a kooky theory on why a change may be a good idea. Remember last season when they were playing bad and it was just like they were all waiting till C.C.* was traded and then once it happened, it was like, “Ok, the bottom fell out, now what?” and they just finished out the year with apparently some success, from everything that I’ve read from the Wigwam. That’s what I think is going on this year – instead of C.C., its Wedge.
Instead of a pressure to succeed, its just the pressure of waiting for something to happen – its just hanging out there and until it finally happens, you go through the motions because you don’t know how to deal with the result of that big unknown.

Like I said, “kooky”, but I haven’t been privy to the official Indians Management Thesaurus to correctly word it.

And, if anyone cares, I think its going to have to go deeper than Wedge. It’s going to have to be a post-season house cleaning from top to bottom, not just field management, but player development/management too.

* he was still C.C. with us, not CC

Why would you get rid of a guy that got you to the ALCS and 1 game away from the World Series just two years ago? Has he become worse? Has his added experience harmed him in some way?

You gotta flush last year because Haffner, Betancourt and Carmona were all non-factors (just to name a few). Everyone is injured this year and our bullpen can’t execute.

Judge him when he has a healthy team. He didn’t throw Grady’s elbow out of whack. He didn’t zap the strength from Pronk’s shoulder. I think we could all safely assume that Kerry Wood was gonna perform better than he has. We made a bona fide run in 2007! Come on, y’all, he’s a very good manager, got manager of the year not too long ago and managed the All Star team.

With that said the hitting instruction might need a shoe to the nuts. The way Francisco, Peralta and Shoppach try and pull outside pitches is no good… but this is hardly the single source of this awful season, just a contributing factor.

Yeah, but when they made the ALCS, we had a consistent line up that he stuck with in spite of the injuries. And apparently Ryan Garko wasn’t such a bad 1B then either, and he was just an infielder that season.

Also take into consideration that the AL Central is a joke – we were just taking our turn that season and we didn’t really beat that dominant of a Yankees club either to get to the ALCS.

I wonder where the flexibility kick really stems from, Wedge or Shapiro.

AC – I have totally agreed with you on the Wedge front completely, until last night. When the local news stations played over and over that scene with Huff and Wedge in the dugout, arguing, after the 8th inning – I was dumbfounded. Huff obviously thought he could have finished the game. Wedge said no way. And the bullpen was this >

I also hate to make excuses, but there has to be some sort of an excuse, right?

This team has talent oozing out its ears! I don’t like the argument that Wedge isn’t too blame. I’ve played for many different managers from tball to college, and the best managers (the one’s I had when we won a lot of games and championships) were guys that got up in your face and entirely ruled the clubhouse. Coaches/managers that when we missed a groundball hit another one at us twice as hard and cussed us out for doing it. Wedge would never do this because it might hurt somebody’s feelings! Horsecrap! This is the major leagues. Time to take the kid gloves off and push these guys to the brink. Wedge cannot and will not do this. Get rid of him.

He’s not solely to blame, but time and again he has made poor decisions in game. Stuff simple fans can even see. A bad manager can make talent disappear in a hurry…just look at our team. Like I said, we’ve got talent oozing out our ears–Sizemore, Victor, Travis, Valbuena, LaPorta, Lee, Cabrera, Choo. God bless America, those guys there should be enough to at least make the playoffs and possibly even the WS!!! If you can’t make that group of talent winners, then the coach has to go.

NOW, that’s not to say that the bullpen hasnt’ been bad. But the bullpen has been bad b/c since opening day they’ve had to pitch 4-6 innings a game!!! HOLY CRAP! Why Shapiro felt good having Carmona (who has been down right bad last year in the 2 slot), followed by Pavano (who ain’t pitched in 4 years), Reyes with cronic arm trouble always looming, and S. Lewis (completely unproven)! How do you even consider throwing that set of starters out there? That is Shapiro’s fault. The bullpen is a direct result.

Also, partially Wedge’s fault, for bringing in a Bullpen Coach who destroyed Detroit last year. What? Why? Who hires the guy who stinks? NOBODY but Mediocre CLEVELAND, that’s who! This org is defunct and changes need to be made. This team doesn’t need to completely rebuild. You can’t fire all the players, so start with the manager–it sure as heck is working for Colorado (who has a third of the talent that we do)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here’s a question AC: How can firing Wedge possibly make us worse? Your entry, while great, conveniently forgets his mismanagement of a bad bullpen. I was at the game on Friday at The Wrig and when (the corpse of) Raffy made an appearance I swear to God I saw at least 20 Indians fans start booing and leave. They had seen enough and the Indians were still winning! What does Raffy do? Doesn’t record an out in two batters. When Wood gave up the homer my Dad and I caught the Red Line back downtown and it was packed with frustrated and angered Indian fans. In fact throughout our trip everyone Indians fan was in agreement that Wedge needs to go.

Also check this out: In recent history when a team gets so close to the ultimate goal of winning a WS but fails that manager seems to become ineffective. Take a look at recent teams, it’s staggering. Hurdle in 07, Melvin in the same year, Leyland’s Tigers have straddled mediocrity since 06, Garner’s Astros in 05, Baker after his 02 season with the Giants, LaRussa in 04 is an exception, Macha’s 06 A’s, Willie Randolph’s Mets in 06. It goes on and on. It’s a theory but it might hold a little water.

The problem with the pro-wedge argument is that his firing wouldnt be solely based upon the 30-42 record this year. Even in that 07 season, Wedge continued to be a weight preventing the team from reaching that next level. As evidenced not only by the numerous players that have seen success in the major league after coming out of the tribe farm system during wedge’s reign, he and the front office are very good at player development, to a point. Wedge’s specialty is turning young ballplayers into bonafide major leaguers. However, he has shown himself unable to go that extra step to help those same players turn into the all-star caliber players that developed in the tribe farm system of the 90’s such as thome and ramirez. We’ve seen this failure in the likes of Brandon Phillips and Ryan Ludwick (yet to be completely determined) and are now starting to seen the negative effects of this style on barfield and laporta, young players with great potential who must have been liked enough by our front office for them to give up guys like CC and Kouzmanoff in order to get them. In this sense, there is a bit of a disconnect between the actions of these “partners” in the front office and in the clubhouse, a disconnect that will continue as long as wedge is our manager. Instead of a player development manager like Wedge, the tribe need to have a proven winner in their clubhouse, someone who can teach our young players how to win by experience (LOFTON IN 07- perhaps the reason that we had our lone division title under wedge). Instead of a thirty-something former four A catcher, we need a legend, someone whose name alone would command the respect of young players in the clubhouse.
But who would/could that be? The first name that comes to mind is Hargrove. Although it would never happen because of the way his last managerial term in cleveland ended, hargrove would be a great fit for the team and for the city.
Another possibility would be Buck Showalter. He has been a presence in our front office, leaving him comfortable with the organization and the players, and has the pedigree our young club needs.
However, I think that the best solution may be to bring back someone such as a Sandy Alomar to mentor this team and its players into becoming the type he was a part of during that 90’s run. Sandy has a familarity with the organization that would be invaluable and has the pedigree as a player that could allow him to gain the type of instant respect gained by Ozzie Guillen upon his taking the managerial position with the white sox. It will never happen, but Sandy would be a perfect fit.

strummer, in AC’s defense he DOES mention the bullpen as one of Wedge’s wrongdoings: “his snake-bitten bullpen moves and some questionable in-game decisions…”

wctribe, you have GOT to be kidding me. I am (typically) more polite in disagreeing with other commenters but you are on a different plane with your last post.

First off, Wedgie’s boys tied for the most wins in baseball in 2007, also the year he won the ML Manager of the Year so our 96 wins were not prevented by Wedge at all. Sabathia and Carmona, two 19-game winners, along with Hafner and Sizemore’s disappearing offense lost the ALCS for Cleveland, not Wedge.

Second, the fact that you say “he and the front office are very good at player development, to a point” is OUTRAGEOUS! To what point? Possibly a negative point, if that were at all possible to conceptualize. The fact that you typed that sentence is all I need to know.

Third, “the numerous players that have seen success in the major league after coming out of the tribe farm system during wedge’s reign” is a JOKE of a statement. Please, do my a favor and NAME these guys that you speak of because if you look at our 25 man roster right now I see four pieces that for more than one full season have provided significant and positive contributions: Martinez, Peralta, Garko and Perez. Huff, Sowers, Sipp, Jensen Lewis, Gimenez, and Francisco don’t fit the parameters. Perhaps I am wrong on a few players but your claim is ridiculous. I have to assume that your intellectual capacity rivals that of Corky from ‘Life Goes On’.

Fourth, I will give you Ryan Ludwick as an unproven commodity but calling Brandon Phillips “yet to be completely determined” is asinine. Again, who are these “bonafide” major leaguers that you are referring to in the case of Wedge’s specialty? Please don’t preach nonsense or else some jerk like me is going to call you out on it.

SUNDAY, JUNE 28th CLEVELAND vs CINCINNATI
I agree with the article that everything is broken, especially Wedge. I looked at the box for today. Huff gave up 4 runs in the third. Why in GOD’S green earth was Huff allowed to stay beyond that point??? Wedge kept Huff in longer and Huff gave up 3 more runs in the fifth. This is a Stupid managerial decision. Huff should have been removed after the 4 runs and a new pitcher brought in the 4th inning.
I think that Wedge needs to get the players properly motivated and light a fire under the pitching staff…Otherwise Shapiro needs to find a manager who can get results

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