It may come as no surprise to some that the talent-depleted Indians are stuck in the mud so-to-speak while mired in a 10-game losing streak. The Tribe is now an Indian village loaded with rookies (12) who are simply over matched by what has become a somewhat competitive AL Central Division.
Cleveland has been swept by Minnesota and Oakland, leaving them with a game against Detroit to prevent yet another sweep. In the meantime, Cleveland has sunk back down the basement of the division, and only leads Baltimore in terms of American League standings. Despite the 10-game losing skid, Cleveland is a mere 3-18 in the current month.
The final year of Manager Eric Wedge’s contract is slated for next season. Whether or not he will be retained is up to general manager Mark Shapiro, who has also taken his share of criticism from the fans. The beef on Shapiro seems to be that he never retains a veteran as a true clubhouse leader. That may have been brought to the forefront when Victor Martinez was sent packing to Boston, a move that still makes me sick to my stomach.
Wedge’s tenure in Cleveland hasn’t been littered with success. In fact, it has been met with unfulfilled expectations. Year-in and year-out, the Indians are mentioned as contenders for the division, league, and world championship…at least John Kruk from ESPN’s Baseball Tonight thinks so. And each season, the Indians almost always live up to their reputation as choke artists. It seems like yesterday (not really, but bear with me) that the Indians led Boston 3-1 in the ALCS. Not even the Tribe’s best pitchers were able to keep hot-hitting Boston at bay as Cleveland squandered an opportunity of a lifetime.
Save for that season, the Indians have built a reputation as a slow starting team that finishes hot down the stretch. Even that hasn’t been true this year. Shapiro traded away several key pieces to a team built to succeed in 2008, and various injuries have slowed the Indians down further. That has culminated in the dreadful streak currently sucking the life out of Progressive Field…if there was any left after June.
A team meeting was called by Wedge today, in hopes of raising the spirits of the younger players. Wedge thinks the team is too tense to be winning ballgames down the stretch apparently: “You have to relax to play your best. You have to be loose. It’s keeping it in perspective that allows you to free up and play and be the best you can be. It’s a tough thing because it is the big leagues and it is so important. It can really take over if you let it.”
Does this really surprise anybody? The young players are getting tense at the thought of possibly playing to save a manager’s job. Recently, the Rockies’ players noted several similarities in dealing with former manager Clint Hurdle. The Rockies were only ahead of the lowly Washington Nationals in terms of wins. Suddenly, a new face in the clubhouse helps the players loosen up, and the wild card playoff berth is no longer a long shot.
Hopefully…hopefully…this has been considered for next season in Cleveland.