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.

~AC

24 Comments

AC, I don’t think defending Wedge is really an issue, at least from my standpoint. I can point to a lot of things that have happened over the last two seasons that he had no control over, although I would argue I could point to a lot of poor choices on that front, as well (you’ve yet to ring in on why the heck Chris Gimenez is on the roster, I’ve noticed).
I think my issue isn’t “what is he doing that makes this team worse” so much as “is he doing anything to make them better?” Is he? Because from where I’m sitting, he’s done nothing to make this a better team, and if that’s the case, why are we holding on to him? Why NOT take a chance on another manager? What’s the worst that can happen, we energize the fan base for a few weeks and end up last in the league?

AC,
let me present you with some statistical information that you could care less about. 381 runs scored in the majors being 4th only to TB, NYY and BOS respectively (powered by the DH without question) is nice but giving up 403 runs and being the worst in baseball is certainly another factor to only having thirty wins.

Over our 30-43 record we have accumulated a total of 226 RS and 114 RA in our 30 victories (+112). Conversely, we have been outscored 155-289 during our 43 loses (-134). Let us not forget the 22-4 shellacking we laid to the Yankees, what would easily be termed an outlier in statistical terms. That one game raises our average of runs scored over our 30 victories +0.5 runs so it makes a huge difference. We have a record of 9-11 in games determined by 1 run; 12-25 in games determined by 2 runs or less; and a ******** 13-28 for games 3 runs or less.

What does all this nonsensical jargon mean? We score in bunches, we lose as a team, and we can’t win close games.

I promise I didn’t swear there. I said wh0pping.

I think all of those who are less-than-impressed with the leadership as of late are also willing to admit to ourselves that the chances of a change being made are about 15%. I’m not counting on it, because then my next fear creeps in: so they boot Wedge, probably insert Lovullo, and then its ‘second verse, same as the first’ because they won’t go out and hire a new manager at the conclusion of the year. They made a change, so we all should quit complaining, right?

There is a need for some fresh blood in this organization, some new ideas, and some straight-up guts.

“Because from where I’m sitting, he’s done nothing to make this a better team, and if that’s the case, why are we holding on to him?”

No offense, honestly, because I know you were looking for a good year and have been on board since day 1, but where exactly are you sitting? In Los Angeles? My point is, us fans dont have a damn clue what goes on behind the scenes.

AC made a lot of good points. Guys, don’t even begin to fool yourselves. Do you really think if we had, say, Torre, Leyland, any elite manager, they could just motivate these pitchers to go deep into games? We replace Wedge with Skinner and suddenly Jeremy Sowers will go seven innings? Any reliever out there will throw strikes?

We knew from the start of the year that we would score runs (probably in bunches like always), but we’ll take that. We also really knew that our rotation was extremely suspect. So there you have it, we score and our pitching blows.

All Wedge can do as the manager once the season gets under way is hand the ball to a reliever and see if he gets the job done. That’s all I can say. I’m really NOT defending Wedge, but you must notice the position players, except one (JP), play their *** off every game and give us a chance to win. We have had monster leads, and have come back many times. That would not happen if these guys had quit on Wedge.

If he goes, he goes. That does not change the bullpen. Sorry for the long post.

Well put AC. Is it possible for you to get on a loudspeaker in downtown Cleveland and just repeat that over and over until everyone else gets it? I’m glad Shappy is sticking with Wedge. The managers aren’t the problem, the players are. This is an ok team with a few stars (and two superstars). Our pitching is, simply put, horrendous. Without the money of the big clubs or the apparent great scouting of say Arizona, this club is going nowhere. Getting rid of Wedge will do absolutly nothing for this team other than take away the one main-stay of the organization. And I don’t see how that can be a good thing. The team needs better players, and that’s it.

While the bullpen certainly isnt Wedge’s fault, he has to bear the burden because of his change at the bullpen coaching position. He took out one of the more respected coaches on our staff and replaced him with a man freshly dismissed after coaching the worst AL bullpen of last season. He said it then and must face it now, the bullpen is his responsibility, even if it isnt his fault

Word on the street is that Hargrove is coming back as player/manager, and Shaq will be the new hitting coach.

And we are cutting Kerry Wood and picking up John Rocker.

Furrski, your comment is actually part of my problem with the whole organization: they don’t tell the fans anything. How long was Hafner playing injured, and playing poorly, before anyone mentioned his shoulder? How long was Grady putting up awful numbers this year before anyone mentioned that hey, he’s actually been hurt since spring training! Do anyone have an explanation for Chris Gimenez? Or Kelly Shoppach? Does anyone have any idea what this team is doing and what their plans are?
We’re the consumers. We deserve information. Not all of it, but some of it, and we never get it with this organization. I honestly think I know how Jhonny Peralta feels, because I never know what’s going to happen from day to day, either. And if it’s frustrating to me, I can only imagine how frustrating it is for the rest of the team.
Still, the bottom lines is wins and losses, and Wedge has done nothing to suggest that his management has gotten us more wins this year. He IS responsible for mismanaging our bullpen, even if they’re not very good to begin with. He has mismanaged our line-ups. And he’s lost the good will of the fan base by never explaining anything.
Honestly, I’ve defended Wedge every year he’s been manager. I always disliked the “fire Wedge” crowd. But the time has come.

Are we getting the best, the most, out of our players? What steps are being taken to help them adjust when they get into slumps, or miss their spots?

By being content with mediocrity, players & fans get the message that this is the expectation. So we really are just a AAA+ team, a destination for your entertainment dollar?

losangelesclevelandfan:

I absolutely agree about Jhonny. He has been one of my favorites since his first promotion, and he has every right to be frustrated. IMO the club should have had him play third every day this spring, and into the season. But I think you take the team’s secrecy WAY too personally. Sure, it seems like they could give you a little more at times, but NO other team gives away injury information to the public. It is a competitive disadvantage, plain and simple. Ex: Obviously they knew Hafner had shoulder pain as soon as Pronk did, but if he is trying to play through it, telling the public that he is injured gives Hafner no chance. If the fans know, then other teams know our cleanup hitter is hurting. Dont get so upset. Pay closer attention and judge for yourself, because they dont have to tell us squat.

Giminez can play multiple spots well and could be our future utility guy. Shoppach has been exposed to the league and has to adjust accordingly. The only way he’ll figure it out (hopefully) is with MLB at-bats. And I’ll just say that nobody complained about Shelton when “Gorrilla Ball” was in effect, now did we? He must be doing something as our hitters have ALWAYS worked a starting pitcher, taken walks, and scored a ton of runs. But personally, I do feel that Willis, and Hernandez need SERIOUS evaluation. And for the question of what direction is this team heading, I think its obvious- LOOK FOR PITCHING! I doubt they trade any of our studs, but some position players (DeRosa) are ripe for the picking.

losangelesclevelandfan, I am totally with you when you said this,
“Honestly, I’ve defended Wedge every year he’s been manager. I always disliked the “fire Wedge” crowd. But the time has come.”
Up until a couple weeks ago, I was still with Wedge and giving him the benefit of the doubt. I know plenty of fans haven’t liked him for years, but I have had his back. I 100% get that this is not all Eric Wedge’s fault, but you can’t fire the whole team, you can’t release the whole bullpen, and there are certain stats, like the Indians record in April under Wedge, that bring up big questions about him getting the team ready to play. I understand these players are big boys, and need to take care of themselves, but a change has to be made, and any major league manager knows when he signs with a team, there is a good chance he will be fired and have to take the blame for poor performance, and unfortunately for Wedge, we have gotten to the point where this seems like the option that makes the most sense.

Furrski, the problem is that they are so secretive on so many levels that when they fail to perform the injury explanation comes across as an excuse, not unlike Roger Clemens getting injured in every game where’s getting shelled. He just “happens” to get injured then. It also bothers me because while Wedge talks about how versatile our team is, he keeps guys like Hafner and Sizemore in the line-up even when they’re hurt — if our team is so versatile, why would he need to do that? Why wait so long to rest them?
Gimenez is an awful choice for the utility man of the future. We have literally a dozen guys in Columbus who had better numbers when he was called up (and still do). The only thing that Gimenez offers that those other guys don’t is the ability to play catcher…which he hasn’t done. Not once.
Gimenez has been playing first and outfield for us, yet we have two different guys with better numbers in Columbus who happen to be able to play both of those positions.
Honestly, I generally don’t complain about Shelton. He’s perhaps the only member of the staff I don’t complain about, as our offense has always been strong, even if they do run hot and cold. Are there problems with it? Sure, but it’s not as glaring, to me, as the other aspects of our game. For that matter, our hot and cold production would be helped by a regular line-up, not to mention keeping hot hitters in the line-up when they produce instead of benching them for unknown reasons — which is a manager’s decision.
Also, as most who know me on this blog can attest, I pay very close attention and I always judge for myself. It’s why I demand better from my favorite team.

Losangelesclevelandfan:

I remember specifically Grady pulled himself out of the WBC because of his injured shoulder, Wedge said “It was no big deal”. He benched him for a few games, and then Grady was deemed “ready to go” now my question is would it have made a difference if Grady had started the season on the DL, would he be healthy now? I know this, if Wedge had DL’d Hafner at the beginning of last season, Travis would be playing everyday now. I am sick of this organization being so secretive, and if Mark Shapiro really wants to continue his “partnership” with Wedge, then maybe it’s time for Chis Antonelli to come in and take over. And this is the first time I have ever said that, but I do know changes need to be made.

What is missing from this discussion of Wedge is the fact that it is his job to have the players ready to start the season out of ST. Wedge has failed miserably on this.

Would the BP be better if ST was done different? We don’t know for sure, but for every single RP to have such a horrible start to the year can’t be just the players. Perez, Wood, Lewis, Betancourt are all better than they have done so far this year. Coincidence that they all flop out of the gate at once? I highly doubt it.

And now we are into another of Wedge’s faults. His overplaying of his hot player. Martinez has started every game but 2 so far. Now he is slumping badly. Wedge has done this over and over in the past.

And as far as the Colorado situation, Hurdle was juggling the lineup daily. The players said they didn’t come to the ballpark to win, they came to see where and if they were playing. Same thing that is happening in CLe. Stability is important. Wedge has gone off the deep end with his juggling of the lineup and positions.

If they were moving Peralta, it should have been done in ST not mid May.

Wedge needs to go and the media, which now, sadly, includes AC, needs to stop making excuses for them.

Hey Anthony-I’ve been watching the Rockies vs. Angels late night the last few nights just to wind down from the Tribe games and the mgmt & coaching is on a completely elevated level compared to Wedgie & Co. The Angels won but the Rockies looked stellar as well. Their second baseman rocks (starts with a T and is 25 letters long in the last name). anway, the only similarity that i saw bet Colorado and the Tribe was the 9th inning pitcher last night who gave up 5 runs in the 9th and began chucking balls to the left side way off the plate!!! They were scrambling in the Rockies bullpen. The pitcher was so desperately crying for help that he was laughing at his own performance while waiting for someone to get warmed up! i was certain that Kerry Wood had played for the Rockies last night, but alas, there was actually a rockies player chucking those balls.

Tribetime1:

Wow, aren’t you all of a sudden becoming the den mother in all of this. So what you say goes, correct? You don’t see this organization accepting mediocrity? Answer this, what has Wedge done to make this team better? I know we all have to deal with it, but the last time I checked, oh wait, I am checking now…yup, WE ARE ALL ENTITLED TO OUR OPINION. Even you. But has Wedge made this team better? Remember, we were 1 win away from reaching the World Series in 2007, and what have we done lately? NOTHING. Oh wait a second, injuries, yeah well injuries are just an excuse. We have the Minor League talent to come in, step in and do their job as best as they can. Certainly, our team is better now with Grady play than it was just this week with Trevor Crowe in his spot, but guess what? I don’t buy the injury excuse because last season this team was dealing with injuries and guess what? The 2nd half they started to learn how to deal with it and started to win ballgames. How? They found a way to win, something they aren’t doing now. Gee, can;t this team win 2 games in a row just once? That is all I am asking right now, and I am really low selling everything now because all I want are 2 LOUSY wins in a row. We have starting pitchers who blame their 5th inning meltdowns on the fact they ran to 1st base. REALLY? Running to 1st base is tough? Gee, when I played Softball for 8 seasons and even when I played baseball as a kid, I never found running to 1st base all that excrutiating, and I surely didn’t go to Vanderbildt for my education, which tells me Jeremy Sowers isn’t as smart as we might think. He surely isn’t baseball smart. We have relievers who have track records, they are called VETERANS who are underperforming. I blame part of it for that stupid WBC that they played in the spring, but that’s just a small part of it. I know, maybe Chuck Hernandez should be fired? After all, according to Willis and Wedge, Luis Issaac was part of the problem for our meltdown last year, so maybe they should fire Chuck. FIRE ANYONE because at this point, we can’t accept being 30-43, but apperently you do.

Project manager gets the boot when the team loses…bye bye Wedgie!

cantonguy and hovanec make great points about spring training/WBC, etc. And that all leads into the numbers someone mentioned earlier regarding how badly this team ALWAYS starts.
Now, it would be easy to suggest that guys like Sizemore and Hafner and even Scott Lewis (who said his elbow was hurt during his last few starts in Spring Trianing) basically withhold information from the coaching staff regarding their injuries, but if that’s the case, then doesn’t that speak volumes about our coaching staff? If guys aren’t coming forward with injuries and are a) making themselves worse and b) playing horribly rather than be honest with our coaches, isn’t that something that should be dealt with?
In the end, it comes down to sending a message to your consumers — the fans. And, as cantonguy said, it should be a message stating that our performance this year is unacceptable.

Maybe its time for the Indians fans to start questioning why the Indians are consistently the underperforming team. Even ESPN has branded the Indians with that label- “underperforming.” with a roster loaded with potential all-stars, how do we rationalize repeated failure? And Jhonny fighting with Wedge is just fuel to the fire…

I hate to admit it, but it’s time that the Indians’ current “management” crew ALL take a hike. It’s not just Wedge… the pitching staff is never ready to start the season in April… the hitters are never ready in April… the team’s not physically in shape in April… that’s why so many injuries early in the year. What the @#$%^&* do they do during Spring Training? I went to AZ this year to find out and only one-two regulars appearing in each of the 3 games I saw. For years I have watched… Wedge never has anyone warming-up or “ready” in the bullpen when we get into trouble… so he always waits 1 or 2 more opposing batters than he should in EVERY tight situation. If a pitcher walks the first batter in the 4-5-6 innings, someone should be getting lossened-up… but NOOOOOOO! Not with Wedge. He waits til the bases are loaded, then calls the billpen for someone to get up.

Eric seems like a nice guy, but then again nice guys tend to finish last. What has he done for us lately? What has he done for us EVER?

I’ve been an Indians fan since 1947. While they’re looking at getting rid of Wedge, why don’t they go ahead and look at getting rid of Shapiro too. He’s the worst thing to happen to the Indians since Frank Lane.

I have been a die-hard Tribe fan all my life, and have come to a point this season where Im asking where have the Indians gone wrong? 2 weeks ago the team was struggling but still were only six games back in the division. After 2 horrible weeks of play, the team has dropped to a horrible 12 games back in the division. They are losing to mediocre teams like the reds and pirates, and only look to be playing worse every day. While I understand that injuries have plagued the team this year, I also understand that the majority of the pitching staff has been active, and throwing worse than I have seen in many years. The lackluster performance of the pitching staff got me curious to how they compare to the 07 and 08 teams. In 07 the pitching staff ranked in the top 10 if not the top 5 in almost every pitching category. They had the 2nd most saves in the majors and the 5th best ERA, and because of that they were 1 win away from the world series. In 08 the pitching took a turn for the worse. They ranked 20th in ERA and 28th in SV’s and the team ended up a .500 team. Now that were in 09 amazingly enough, the pitching has gotten even worse. They rank last in both ERA and SV’s and have already given up more than half the walks they recorded in 08. My questions are what has caused the pitching to become so horrible? Why has this world series contender become one of the worst teams in the majors? Lastly, how do the Indians regain the skills/confidence to contend for a title once again?

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