Better ask questions before you shoot
Continuing the conversation from yesterday, many of you have taken to pointing at what’s gone on in Colorado as an example of why Eric Wedge should be dismissed.
The Rockies had reportedly tuned out Clint Hurdle and were motivated by his ousting.
They were 18-28 under Hurdle this season. Since Jim Tracy replaced him, they are 19-6.
And that’s great, for a 25-game stretch. It will be interesting to see if it lasts and if Tracy is a long-term solution.
I’m reminded of covering the Reds in ’05. Cincinnati ousted manager Dave Miley in mid-June and replaced him with Jerry Narron. Instantly, the club played better, going .500 down the stretch (which doesn’t sound all that great, but it was major, major improvement on what had come before) and earning Narron an extension for 2006 with an option for ’07.
The players, who had never shown much respect for Miley, remarked about the improved communication and leadership Narron provided. He brought them a change in direction and a new voice in the clubhouse.
What a difference a manager makes, huh?
Alas, the Reds finished under .500 yet again in 2006, and, midway through ’07, Narron himself was ousted — the fall guy for a 31-51 record. The team needed another change in direction, another new voice in the clubhouse.
Fact is, the Reds were a flawed organization. They had no pitching in the upper levels of their system, and their draft, trade and free-agent acquisitions in the years leading up to Narron taking over were horrendous. No manager inheriting that club was going to have sustained success.
I’m not saying the Indians are as flawed from top to bottom, but the Tribe’s pitching staff at present (and looking ahead) has some glaring holes that aren’t going to be fixed by a managerial substitution.
It’s become popular to accuse Wedge of mismanaging the ‘pen, but can a bullpen this bad really be mismanaged? No matter what move you make, it’s going to be the wrong one. That’s what Wedge is experiencing this season. You simply can’t win with starting and relief pitching this erratic.
Major League manager is not only one of the worst jobs in professional sports, it’s also one of the most overrated. Little to nothing is in your control as a manager, aside from filling out the lineups. Many of Wedge’s lineups have been a disaster this season, but the Indians are fourth in the league in runs scored and, really, that should be enough to get you more than 30 wins at this juncture, shouldn’t it?
It’s the pitching. It’s the walks. It’s the crippling home runs allowed. It’s the starters struggling to give you more than five quality innings. Those are the factors that have had the Indians in last place for all but three games this year.
Look, I’m not writing all this to say that keeping Wedge, who has enjoyed a rare amount of job security, is the answer. I’m open to the possibility that it’s the first of many steps to right the ship.
But those of you lashing out at Wedge and his staff need to be prepared for the possibility that if that day comes where the Indians go in a new managerial direction — and, again, that day could very well come at any point this year — don’t expect it to be the move that turns this organization around after two highly disappointing seasons. I’d go so far as to say removing Wedge might not be as significant as, say, moving a Mark DeRosa or a Carl Pavano in exchange for some young, quality pitching. Because that’s what this team really needs.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- No word on who will go when Jose Veras arrives. If it’s a straight reliever-for-reliever move, then the only two guys who strike me as safe are Kerry Wood and Matt Herges. Perhaps the three-lefty situation in the ‘pen is short-lived. We shall see.
- Veras will be the 24th pitcher used by the Tribe this year, which is the most in the Majors. And he’ll be the 42nd player used overall, which, at present, would put the Indians in a tie with the Padres for most in the Majors.
- The above, by the way, is quickly becoming my favorite bit of statistical minutia from this season.
- Ryan Garko, who has been nursing a sprained left wrist, was available off the bench Wednesday. He remained out of the starting lineup, as Wedge opted to stick with the Kelly Shoppach-Carl Pavano tandem.
- A reporter mentioned to Wedge that Jensen Lewis, who has logged scoreless appearances in six of his last eight outings, has showed improvement. Wedge didn’t seem to buy into that notion. “We need to see some consistency from these guys,” Wedge said. “One good, one bad doesn’t get it done. You’ve got to have an idea of what you’re going to get. Jensen’s very capable of helping us out of the bullpen, but he needs to be more consistent in throwing the ball where he wants to throw it.”
- Bizarre outing for Kerry Wood in the ninth last night. I might be wrong, but the RBI double to Jack Wilson might have been a foul ball, had it not nicked Jhonny Peralta’s glove. And the RBI single to Andrew McCutchen was about a 97-bounce dribbler up the middle. So you cut Wood some slack for those. But walking Nyjer Morgan and Freddy Sanchez was a problem, and Wood nearly walked Adam LaRoche. Wood said he’s struggling to find his cutter and fastball right now. Wedge gave him credit today for getting that last out.
- Getting Wood consistent work this season has been a problem, especially given the Indians’ reluctance to use him for multiple innings because of his injury history. “It’s particularly hard on the road,” Wedge said. “Because in a close game, you need to save him for that ninth inning. If you use him in the eighth and need him in the ninth, that’s not good.”
- So, yes, this is what people meant when they talked about the risk associated with signing Wood to a two-year, $20.5 million deal. I know one thing — the chances of him reaching 55 games finished for his vesting option for 2011 aren’t looking likely this year.
- Three more Draft picks have signed with the Tribe. They are: outfielder Jordan Henry (seventh round, University of Mississippi), infielder Casey Frawley (17th round, Stetson) and infielder Greg Folgia (40th round, Missouria Columbia).
- In last night’s Class A Carolina/California League All-Star Game, Lonnie Chisenhall went 1-for-3, Cord Phelps went 0-for-2 with the Carolinas only RBI and left-hander Eric Berger threw a scoreless inning. Also of note, Chisenhall won the Home Run Derby before the game, beating five other participants.
- Nick Weglarz got off to a horrid start this season, but he’s been torrid since the beginning of May. He drove in four runs against Trenton last night and is now tied for third in the Eastern League with 47 RBIs.
- It is roughly 132 degrees in the PNC Park press box. Where the White Sox cut back on printing costs in their press box, the Pirates cut back on air-conditioning costs. Either way, the media ends up hot and bothered.