When analyzing a manager’s job status, measurements go beyond the wins and losses. It’s how the team loses. What talents does the team have? How does the team respond to the manager as a motivator?
Unfortunately for the Indians, the majority of their losses come from blown leads and poor pitching performances in the later innings. The front office carefully built a power hitting ballclub years back to complement the arms of CC Sabathia and Fausto Carmona. This ballclub peaked in 2007 as the Indians were a mere one win from reaching the World Series. Surely, the fans would have reason to cheer, as the Tribe was simply an upstart team, perhaps lacking the experience of the Red Sox. Surely, a year of seasoning would bring even better results on the grand stage.
Flash forward to the current season. Cleveland is last in the division, after several publications projected the Tribe to rebound from a disappointing 81-81 record. Despite that record, people took notice of Cleveland’s 44-28 finish after a pathetic 37-53 start. No doubt, injuries played a factor, as did some major slumps by key players.
These days, Hafner and Sizemore are battling through those pesky injuries…and so is the rising infield stud Asdrubal Cabrera. While Victor Martinez seems to be back on track, Fausto Carmona is nowhere near his former battery-mate in Cleveland. Carmona was recently sent from the major leagues all the way down to rookie ball. The pitcher who began his Indians career with some troublesome head issues, now appears to be heading down the same path, just a few seasons later.
Who is to blame for the teams lack of success, despite the talent? For the people who think this problem is purely because of the bullpen, then pitching coach Carl Willis and bullpen coach Chuck Fernandez take sole blame. Maybe GM Mark Shapiro really didn’t obtain the right personnel to win ballgames with. And lastly, the Big Chief himself, Eric Wedge…maybe he just isn’t cut out to get the job done with this year’s Indians.
The next question, IF Wedge goes, what happens to the rest of the season? Jim Tracy in Colorado is proving that the interim tag could possibly become a permanent gig, something proved by the man Tracy took over for, Clint Hurdle. For years, the Rockies were mired in mediocrity under Hurdle, until the dream stretch in 2007 in which Colorado went streaking through the end of the regular season and the playoffs to reach the World Series against the Red Sox, only to lose in four straight. Interim manager of the 2003 Florida Marlins, Jack McKeon, enjoyed the taste of champagne and the sparkle of a World Series ring after taking over in Miami midseason.
Do the Indians have a man to do the job now? Is Wedge the best option? Does he deserve a chance to finish the season? As the losses to mediocre teams mount, and as the Indians plummet farther from the pack, the seat for Eric Wedge gets hotter. How hot is too hot?