"Fine, then. Get me current players. Living players!"

There was an episode of “The Simpsons” once in which Mr. Burns assembled a softball team of Major League All-Stars (after he came to realize the likes of Cap Anson and Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown had passed on and the Negro Leagues were defunct).

simpsons.jpgAt a pivotal point one game, Burns pointed to Darryl Strawberry and said, “You, Strawberry, hit a home run!”

So Strawberry, of course, hit a home run.

“I told him to do that,” Burns said proudly to his effeminate assistant, Waylon Smithers.

“Brilliant strategy, sir,” Smithers replied.

I bring up this anecdote with a purpose. Because as I continue to read the comments in the Internet stratosphere about Eric Wedge’s job security, it’s come to my attention that some of you out there really believe this is how managers operate.

Actually, maybe Burns is on to something. Wedge has tried everything else, so perhaps tonight he’ll just point at Rafael Perez and yell, “You, Perez! Throw a strike!”

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • General manager Mark Shapiro spoke to reporters about Wedge and the Tribe’s bullpen. The story on Wedge can be found right here. As for the bullpen, Shapiro said, “With an average bullpen, we’d still be in the mix right now. That’s why we’ve got to continue to look at things and examine how we do everything. From bullpen usage to how we acquire and build a bullpen to the way we develop relievers.”
  • Asdrubal Cabrera took part in pregame activities today. He’s taking batting practice from both sides of the plate. Still dealing with some mild soreness in his sprained left shoulder, Cabrera wasn’t yet sure when he’ll be activated. It could be in time for Saturday’s game against the Reds, or the Indians might send Cabrera back to Double-A Akron for a couple more days.
  • Aaron Laffey’s next rehab start will take place Sunday for Akron. He is scheduled to throw about 80 pitches. Laffey said he believes this will be his last rehab start, and then he’s expecting to join the rotation. Stay tuned on that, too.
  • A lineup that includes Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner? You don’t see that every day.
  • Matt LaPorta, getting consistent time at first base in Columbus, is on a tear of late. He is 7-for-13 with five runs scored, two doubles, a homer and five RBI. He’s batting .330 with seven homers and 16 RBIs in 23 games in June.
  • Some fans and media were frustrated with LaPorta playing sporadically and getting just 42 at-bats from the time he was promoted to the big leagues on May 2 to the time he was optioned out on May 26. Shapiro talked a little bit about the use of LaPorta. He said when LaPorta was added in the wake of Travis Hafner going on the disabled list, Wedge was told to put what he felt was the best lineup on the field each day. There are times, Shapiro said, when prospects are called up and the manager is instructed to play them regularly, but this wasn’t one of those times.
  • Right-hander Kyle Smith, the Tribe’s 20th round Draft pick out of Kent State, was on the field taking in batting practice today. It’s believed Smith and the Indians have agreed to terms.
  • The Indians are 6-12 in games decided in the last at-bat.
  • Infielder Eric Perlozzo was signed to a Minor League deal and assigned to Class A Kinston. Perlozzo is the son of former Orioles manager and current Phillies coach Sam Perlozzo. He was a 25thr-round choice by the Orioles in 2007.
  • The Tribe’s Major League-leading 302 walks are 29 more than the number logged by the Tigers, who are second in the AL.

~AC

28 Comments

Huh.
AC, I’m sure there are a lot of people who read your blog who never, ever post a comment, and perhaps never will. But you have a decent group of people who do, many of whom provide well though out, rational arguments on all aspects of their favorite team. For every “Wedge is a bum, he needs to go because I said so” comment, there are at least four or five lengthy comments from people who also think Wedge should go, but have valid reasons to back up their opinions.
I say all this because it seems that you took something of a pot shot in the opening of today’s, one that only applies to a minority of people who respond to your blog aka a minority of people that you can verify READ your blog.
Honestly, I think it was something of a disservice to those of us who come here for good discussions, particularly when you’re basically cherry picking what you decide to address in your column.
Kind of unfortunate, I think.

As a fan – I often find that screaming at the TV telling the players what to do makes me feel better! lol! They don’t often listen but I do feel better.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

losangelesclevelandfan,

I respect what you’re saying, and I regret that my good-natured ribbing rubbed you the wrong way. And perhaps I should have been more specific in pointing out that the mindless “Wedge is a bum” chatter you reference has, thankfully, not been a regular feature of the comments in this blog.

I hope you understand that the comments I’m referencing more often turn up elsewhere on the ‘net and, quite often, in the comments sections on the stories on Indians.com (perhaps you’ve seen them).

The intelligent debate has always been and will always be welcomed and encouraged. There are many arguments to support Wedge getting the axe, but the inability to, say, “inspire” Jeremy Sowers to last into the seventh inning or Jhonny Peralta to hit more home runs are, in my opinion, not among them.

Best regards,
Anthony

AC:

LAfan pretty much took the words out of my mouth. Thanks for your response. Your work here and at Indians.com is excellent – frankly, you’re the best reporter on the Tribe beat right now.

I’m frustrated with knee-jerk responses too, but I do think Wedge is culpable (for example, with La Porta, as you point out above) in many ways and it’s probably time for a change.

Much appreciated, exposition2.
It’s unfortunate that the comments section on a mere baseball blog has, over the last two years, had to double as a group therapy session.

Thanks for the response, AC. I think part of my sensitivity is that I’ve never been on this side of the fence before — I’ve always defended Wedge, and thought that all calls for his removal were overreactions from irrational people. And, to be honest, I generally dismissed those views because of it. I think it’s often easy to relegate the “fire the coach” crowd to the lunatic fringe because, more often than not, that’s where they belong. But I think a lot of the more thoughtful fans have switched sides over the course of this season.
Sadly, I have read the same comments as you around the ‘net (it’s why I don’t post on the Indians.com forum, to be perfectly honest) and it IS mind boggling. Changing coaches will surely change things, but it won’t fix everything.
I think, though, that most of us are willing to take a chance on something different, as opposed to sticking with what we have.

I have not crossed over to that side. Not totally. But as I’ve written before, I’m certainly open to the possibility that a managerial change could be a first step toward repairing what’s been damaged. But that’s just one of several potential first steps. I think this organization has other matters that are just as, if not more, pressing, be it scouting or drafting or player development or free-agent evaluation.
I’ve been called a Wedge apologist in recent days, but my defense of him really boils down to my belief that there’s not a manager, living or dead (in case there are any Mr. Burns types out there who want to resurrect Connie Mack), who could have taken a team with this particular pitching staff to the postseason. Fourth place, perhaps, but not October. And the long-term needs of this club run a lot deeper than a mere managerial switch.

AC….

I would agree with that. I don’t think there’s a manager out there that could have saved this team as far as making them a contender. For me, personally, my concern is more with the future than it is for this season, and as unfair as it may be (and a big part of it is, I will admit), I think the environment of Cleveland baseball has to change. We’ve become the team that is only good when no one expects us to be, the team that always folds under expectations. While a manager can’t control everything, he does set the tone for the team as a unit, and the tone has to change for the Tribe.
Sadly for Wedge, the next guy will no doubt get new players (he’ll have to, if we want to win), so any comparison will be unfair.

AC I feel that in regards to the Wedge situation, I look it from multiple views. Sure the injuries are there, but like you pointed out; the LaPorta situation, etc. I think though that everyone should look at the fact that Wedge has been manager since 2002. In the years we have had him as manager, we have been to the post-season once. I think a 1:7 ratio calls for the managers dismissal. That is just my opinion on the matter.

I was initially wounded a bit myself, but then recalled a lot of the savage posting I’ve seen elsewhere, and was calmed. I hold this blog and the DiaTribe as the two bastions of reasonable and rational commentary and discussion, at least that I consistently read. While I admit I place a lot of the blame on Wedge’s management (especially seeing how players struggle on the team, but do quite well elsewhere, whether it be Columbus or other clubs), it is hard not to get upset with how some of the players perform, especially under pressure. But, between the two problems with the management and the players, it has been shear torture watching what I think a division winning team struggling to not be the worst team in all of baseball. I guess that will teach me to get my hopes up.
And, nice job by Tony Sipp! Striking out the side in the 9th!

Yeah, Sipp was one of the reasons to keep following this team. I think he has real potential, and perhaps a decent stretch in the bigs will prepare him for next year.
There actually seems to be a decent number of starter/reliever guys out there right now, like Motts in St. Louis and Sanchez in SF, guys who don’t see to have the ability to go 5 innings, but have strong arms and could be good relievers if that’s all they did. I’m hoping we can pick up a few guys like that an insert them into the bullpen right away so we can mold them into relievers for next year.
I really do think we could put together a quality team next year, particularly if we have some stability in our line-up.

Shave those sideburns! AC – is this your first Simpson refrence? After seasons of ‘Saved by the Bell’ and ‘Sienfield’ quotes, this may be your best pop culture reference. My only beef with Wedge is that he is too close to Shapiro and his actions are not acountable because of their relationship. It’s like Burns and Smithers. (btw – the Softball episode is one of the greatest)

AC:

I want to share my view and go in complete detail here, I haven’t always been an Eric Wedge fan, but I thought what he did last season was incredible and really, only until this season have I been under the “Fire Wedge” category. See, if this was just an injury thing, that’s one thing. If this was just a bullpen thing, that would be another, but you said it in your stat line, the Indians are 6-12 going into their final at bat. The Indians have also played horrible against some weak NL Central teams, meanwhile the rest of the AL Central has more or less feasted on them and gained some ground on us, for the 2nd year in a row. 2 of Wedge’s 7 seasons, the team has had success in April, for the 2nd year in a row there has been a key injury in spring training that was deemed “no big deal” only to turn out that was why the player was underperforming and they missed some signifigant time. I have seen this team stop doing the fundamental things such as moving the runner over when they needed to, instead they pop out or strikeout because they were trying to go for a 9 run Home Run. Now, I don’t expect Wedge to tell his players to “hit the ball” and boom, they suddenly do, but I at least expect these same ML players who did it in 2007 to know how to do it in 2009. Again, it’s everything that is causing this team to be 31-44, currently in last place. But joeybelle hit it on the head, Shapiro and Wedge are too close, and Mark, until now seems to have allowed that to interfere with his job. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen many teams in my 34 years of watching have a GM call his manager his “partner” and continue to use that phrase for many, many years. In fact, I can go back in time and say John Hart and Mike Hargrove were never buddies, but they certainly had a good thing going, right?

Maybe I should just simply watch an old classic episode of “Saved by the Bell” during a loss, I think maybe that would make me feel better. I’ll try that and let you know.

One more thing guys, the Indians lineup scored 9 runs tonight. So you think Wedge can actually do the right thing and use the SAME lineup tomorrow night? He continues to plug in Kelly “I hit .199 and still play” Shoppach and Ryan Garko tonight went 2-3 with a Home Run. So with that logic, Wedge should give Garko the night off tomorrow. Oh please Eric, use the same lineup tomorrow night, you never know there might be a level of consistency there.

AC I think you have fallen into the trap of getting too close to who you are writing about and you lost objectivity in your analysis.

Saying no manager could do well with this pitching staff sounds like FO PR excuses. There are several managers that wouldn’t have had this pitching staff pitching this bad to begin with.

Many, many very knowledgeable people, before the season started stated that the Indians were contenders. The talent level of the team was capable of contending. Shapiro thought that too.

But when so many players came out of ST so unprepared mentally and possibly physically to start the year, you have to blame the guy in charge of getting the players ready for the season. Wedge. Especially since this has happened more often than not.

And when they started poorly, it screwed them up mentallly to where they were playing to not lose. Prevent defense. And that rarely works.

There are at least 10 guys underperforming their career norms. You will always have some. But 40% of the team?

The worst part of this year is how Wedge is over managing the team. Constant position switches. Constant lineup changes. He has lost control of himself.

And another one of Wedge’s faults is showing up. His overplaying of his hot hand. Martinez has started every game but 2. That is not enough time off.

In the offseason Wedge gave lip service to giving Grady more days off. Well if Grady needs more time off then a guys who catches definitely needs more time off.

Is Wedge the only problem? Heck no. But he is one of the biggest. And to fix the team Wedge has to go or nothing will change.

This is about Shapiro saying he will continue to look into things about the BP. Does Shapiro have molasses in his blood?

After having multiple bad BP over the years, you would think they would have already looked into this and came up with a better plan.

And I am totally sick and tired of Shapiro trying to deflect the criticism of Wedge. If the mess is your fault then quit, Shapiro. If not then get to work and solve some of the problems. Bringing in washed up vets, released form other teams, is never the answer.

Based on how the team plays you would think this is the first year that Shapiro and Wedge have led a ML team.

Early in his tenure Shapiro talked about pitching, defense and building the team through the draft. He has failed on all 3. He has built an offensive team that can’t catch the ball, throw the ball and too many players don’t progress or develop.

One more thing. Shapiro told Wedge to put the best lineup on the field. So Wedge started Dellucci over LaPorta. Multiple times. That is all you need to know that Wedge isn’t the best at player evaluation.

and Duane, Wedge himself said that Laporta would play in 5 of the 7 games before he got called up, oooops. In fairness, at times Laporta has looked lost at the plate, but when the manager continues to throw .199 hitting Catchers in there so they can continue to strikeout with changeups in the dirt, and keep throwing in Dellucci, who started off 5-7, but fell back to Earth rather quickly, you have to wonder why not throw Laporta into the mix? There really isn’t an excuse, not with Dellucci over Laporta in the lineup.

Plus Wedge had LaPorta start in 3 different on the field positions in 3 consecutive games when he did play him.

Wedge always talks about trying to not put pressure on rookies. How was he making it easier on LaPorta by moving him all over the diamond in his 5th thru 7th games in the ML? Defend that AC.

And that my friends is part of the reason why Wedge is at fault for our record. We keep hearing about this “flexibility” in spring training, but the truth is sometimes it is better to leave one player at one position, ESPECIALLY rookies. AC, you even said it was weird about a week or two to see Ryan Garko, one of our slowest runners play in the outfield and Shin-Soo Choo DHing.

interesting, AC was conversing with commenters today and I was at work. Missed opportunity.

I said it before and I stick by my statement: managers and coaches get too much of the blame for failures and not enough for successes. Sports is a dirty business.

AC, I would be interested in getting your opinion on Shapiro’s job security. If we are in a total state of debacle with problems that run deep throughout our organization shouldn’t we assume that Shapiro and specifically his talent evaluators are also under the gun? My answer would be yes.

Yeah, I have to think Shapiro is on the fence, too, but probably safer than Wedge. That’s not a move — if they make it — I would expect them to make during the season, though.
I just want to chime in with everyone else about tonight’s line-up. This should be what we get every time out. If Shoppach MUST catch for Lee, then that’s when he gets in. Once we eventually trade DeRosa, put Francisco out there to see if he’s got anything left to show us and/or build his trade value.

My absolute favorite episode!

Most of the jerks that leave stale comments on firing Wedge (Knock Knock, Who’s there? Fire Wedge!!!) are on the Indians.com page. A few idiots to remain nameless show up here and release frustration upon AC, LACF, and Wedgie, but that comes with the territory. I always come here to see the humorous articles and a few good comments.

duanekiper74: I must ask: Did you personally think this team would have a significant upper hand in this division? With these starters? And I think you have to keep Victor in there. No one expects him to catch 150 games, but first basemen play every day in this league. And its not like Wedge is asking guys to play somewhere they’ve never played before. He doesn’t pencil in Grady at 2B, Jhonny in CF, and Choo at 3B. The players who play multiple spots are here for that reason, they are big boys and can handle it. And we have to try vets who are released or on waivers because that is how it works. Young studs are not available every time you want one. I do agree, Wedge is way too loyal to vets, and his ST approach REALLY bit us in the ***, AGAIN, but our bulpen hasn’t been horrible the whole time Wedge was here. I believe they were one of the best in MLB just a few years back.

I think that most of us have agreed that while we would prefer Wedge or at least part of his core staff to go now, if only to show a snippet of accountability, the reality is that this decision won’t come until the off season. Ditto for the Shapiro/Antonetti move. I actually think that dismissing Wedge’s staff sends a louder message than removing Wedge himself. Particuarly if he were to comment publicly about the rationale behind it. But that’s just my opinion.

There’s something called “but for” analysis. You look at all the variables and determine what one thing, if any, you could change to make things better. Clearly, the 2009 Indians “but for” is the bullpen. With Lewis being sent down, we have now changed every member of the pen except Wood. I don’t think we want to swap him out. Therefore, the obvious next move is to bring up the pitching coach who apparently is able to fix the pitchers being sent down in place of the current coach. Promote Scott Radinsky!

For the longest time, I couldn’t put my finger on what the true management problem was. I always gave Eric Wedge good remarks about what the team has been able to do in the second half of seasons. I think that goes to his credit. However, as a good friend of mine pointed out, think of what sort of a team we would be if we played all season like we typically do in the end. Without a doubt, the potential is there.

But of course, our Achilles heel has been our pitching, most notably the bullpen. Once again, I can’t put my finger on who is truly to blame, outside the players themselves. I was not comfortable in the off season last year when Hernandez was hired. The bullpen was a problem before he arrived, although I would claim it is worse this year than it ever was last year. There is a stark difference between the way our relievers perform while with the club, and when they are elsewhere (be it AAA or other clubs). This would lead me to believe that a problem lies somewhere within the management in the Indians. Perhaps it is merely the incredible pressure the players are under to perform in a struggling bullpen. Perhaps it is the pressure of the big leagues in general. But, the fact that everyone in the bullpen has struggled at one time or another points to how the players are managed. Is it Hernandez? Willis? Wedge? I can’t say for sure. I’m not there, and am merely trying to analyze the situation based on what I see.

If we are officially tired of Wedge bashing, that’s fine with me. However, we cannot deny that there are problems with how the team is run. They should be resolved. I’m tired of watching this division-winning-caliber team reside in the basement.

Well, Mr. Burns had done it…The power plant had won it…With Roger Clemens clucking all the while…Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness made us smile…While Wade Boggs lay unconscious on the barroom tile…We’re talkin’… Softball…From Maine to San Diego…Talking’… Softball…Mattingly and Canseco…Ken Griffey’s grotesquely swollen jaw…Steve Sax and his run-in with the law…We’re talkin’ Homer… Ozzie, and the Straw

Classic episode. Thanks for the memories AC. Sorry for all the bashing you took for this post. I enjoyed it

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 63 other followers

%d bloggers like this: