I'll rise in the morning, my fate decided
The official stance of the Indians is that the fate of Eric Wedge will be decided at season's end.
Somehow, I'm not buying it.
Ownership and the front office have been having conversations about Wedge and his coaches for weeks, as part of an overall organizational review. If they're not sure what they're going to do by now, they'll never be sure. And all indications are that these are Wedge's final days at the helm.
So, why delay the inevitable? Why extend the awkwardness? Why not just make the obvious official, in advance of the Indians' flight to Boston for the final series of the season?
Wedge told reporters earlier this month that he hopes to know his fate before the last game of the season. He's been a good soldier to this organization over the last seven years, and he certainly deserves enough respect to have that request honored.
But unless something changes in the next few days, it appears the Indians are going to be sent off on the last road trip of the season with a lame-duck skipper at the helm. It appears the Tribe will play out the string, then schedule a press conference a day or two after the season ends to officially announce non-news.
My suggestion? Announce it before that final flight toward Fenway. Wedge shouldn't have to make this trip in limbo. Shapiro should sit him down beforehand, deliver the bad news, pat him on the back and then offer him the opportunity to finish what he started and manage the season's final games.
What difference would it make, and what harm would it cause? Wedge would handle that situation like he has every other since 2003 -- like a true professional. In that talk with reporters earlier this month, he said he'd go about his job the same way, even if he had firm knowledge that his days as the manager of this club were numbered. Given his track record, there is no reason to doubt him.
And if Wedge chooses not to manage the final games, so be it. The players will get the message that a change is coming, and the adjustment period will be officially underway.
Whether dismissing Wedge is a move that is going to significantly improve this club going forward is another debate, entirely. I, for one, have been one of Wedge's most vocal supporters this season, because I recognize that he was dealt a bad hand by a front office that, through a combination of poor judgment and bad luck, constructed a sub-par ballclub. And as I wrote in July, I feel Shapiro did the right thing by announcing at midseason that Wedge and his coaches would keep their jobs through the end of the season.
But that's not what this is about. Even those who support Wedge know that bringing him back for next season would be an impossible sell to this fan base. Especially after the team just completed the franchise's worst losing streak in 78 years.
This is about putting an end to the uncertainty surrounding a guy who has been the model of consistency, with regard to how he goes about his job through thick and thin. Wedge has been in limbo long enough. If you're going to make the move, make it official before hitting the road.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY...
The ghost of Jake Westbrook passed through the Indians' clubhouse this morning. No, wait, that actually was Westbrook, and it was sure good to see him. He said he began his long-toss program Friday. That program will last three weeks, then he'll head to Goodyear, Ariz., for three weeks of throwing off a mound. Westbrook said that if all goes well with this throwing program, he's leaning toward pitching winter ball for the "peace of mind" it would offer him and the organization going into 2010.
As I wrote in this story on the main site, the last time Westbrook pitched for the Tribe, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia and Paul Byrd followed him in the rotation. Ain't it funny how times slips away?
Westbrook and Joe Smith might have something in common, because it doesn't look like Smith is going to pitch for the Indians until 2010, as well. Smith, dealing with a sprained left knee, was supposed to throw his third bullpen session this morning and then be activated off the disabled list. But he didn't throw, because the knee is still giving him problems. Smith said he's able to throw without any problems, but he doesn't have the agility to field his position. Smith was expecting to talk to the training staff and Wedge after today's game. "I wouldn't say it's looking up," he said.
The Indians are looking to sweep the Orioles today. They haven't done that since Aug. 19-21, 2005 - also a three-game series here in Cleveland.
The Indians have won back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 26-27.
Of the Tribe's 63 wins this season, 32 have been of the come-from-behind variety. Is that a credit to the never-say-die attitude of the Tribe's hitters, or a comment on the struggles of the starting staff? I'll leave that one up to you.
Shin-Soo Choo (.304) is 12th and Asdrubal Cabrera (.303) is 13th in the AL in batting average.
The Tribe's offense has hit 300 doubles this year, fourth-most in the AL.
Finally, many thanks to the reader who provided the link to this Sports Illustrated story on our old friend Sal Fasano. A rough year for the Mustachioed One. Here's wishing him and his family all the best.
UPDATE (postgame Sunday): Michael Brantley has been out of the lineup the last two days because of a sore right ankle. Wedge did not make it clear when Brantley, who pinch-hit last night, is expected back. Brantley also dealt with the ankle issue at Triple-A Columbus earlier this year.
Also, Tribe media relations director Bart Swain completed the Half Ironman competition in just under six hours. Congrats to him.