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Shaw: Don't Blame Wedge, Blame Dolan

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Shaw: Don't Blame Wedge, Blame Dolan

Unread postby swerb » Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:51 pm

http://www.cleveland.com/sports/plainde ... xml&coll=2

Cost effectiveness could cost Wedge

Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Bud Shaw
Plain Dealer columnist


Mark Shapiro and Eric Wedge are working "el bow to elbow," in the words of the general manager, to find a fix.

Any similarity between that image and Dwight Clark throwing an arm around Chris Palmer's shoulder while singing "Side By Side" is purely coincidental.

The Browns' organization in its rebirth operated at cross purposes. Shapiro and Wedge have been on the same page all along.

The No. 1 selection in their book club would be "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." But somehow they run a baseball team that has looked surprisingly ineffective.

"He's part of the solution," Shapiro said of Wedge after describing his manager's status as "solid."

Wedge shouldn't be in trouble, not this soon after a 93-win season and certainly not on a team that hasn't shown a willingness to outspend its mistakes.

Shapiro thinks of his manager as a business partner instead of an employee, so his words in support of Wedge are no surprise. Wedge's commitment to involving himself in every facet of the organization earns him that consideration. It also gives a Dolan-owned team its best chance to produce a winner.

It certainly precludes the manager scoffing at the front office's assessment of a "five-tool player." That's how it ended for Charlie Manuel and Shapiro on the topic of Milton Bradley. At least now, the blame is a co-share.

As Shapiro's first manager, Wedge will get time to win here. And he needs it, especially given that the rebuilding phase of the plan made winning an impossibility for the first two seasons.

The theory that Shapiro has given Wedge everything he's wanted - for instance, letting Bradley go because he was insubordinate and parting with Brandon Phillips because Ramon Vazquez was a "better fit" - is used as a way of saying Wedge had better win soon.

Well, Wedge better win sooner than later. Every manager must. He's not a brilliant game-day strategist but he's a strong communicator. Shapiro talks about him working extra with Jhonny Peralta, trying to solve Giullermo Mota's troubles, having "motivational talks with players who need motivational talks."

What exactly are the riches he's received from ownership and the front office other than picking his roster?

The Indians still don't miss Bradley. They could use Phillips, even if Phillips would have been unhappy in a limited role. As it turns out, a fill-in for the slumping Peralta wouldn't be collecting splinters.

Moving Derek Shelton into Eddie Murray's spot as hitting coach was obviously welcome. Giving the manager "everything" is a relative term in the $55 million payroll neighborhood.

My guess is Wedge wanted Kevin Millwood back. Bobby Howry, too. Maybe even Scott Elarton. So did Shapiro. The payroll made it next to impossible.

"It's always going to be tough for us to pay $4 million to a setup guy," Shapiro said of Howry.

The Indians aren't paying the freight on Mota, which doesn't even add up to a saving grace because he's pitched so poorly. At this payroll, it doesn't take too many misses in reconfiguring teams year to year before the manager suddenly doesn't look as smart as he once did.

John Hart used to gripe that he couldn't outspend his mistakes as the Yankees could. Shapiro can't outspend his mistakes even to the extent Hart could.

Wedge better be a solution for Shapiro, because money certainly isn't one.
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Unread postby pup » Wed Jun 14, 2006 1:07 pm

Shocking development here. A Cleveland sportswriter puts out an article that was probably proofread and edited by Shapiro. What a crock of shit. Why even write this article? We all know Shapiro and Wedge are connected at the hip. We all know Wedge is a great communicator. Unless it is communicating the fundamentals of the game of baseball, then he must be speaking some sort of ancient language that noone understands.

Personally working with Peralta? Does that make ANYONE fell better about the chances of Jhonny turning things around? What do you presume he is doing with him? Sending him text messages telling him how good he is? Telling him we are 100% behind him, even if he hits .230 and can't catch a cold. Think he bought him some sympathy balloons when he took him out of the 3 hole?

In tomorrow's column, Bud Shaw will break down Jason Johnson's chance at winning the Cy Young award, all it will take is a little time.
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Unread postby mark » Wed Jun 14, 2006 2:16 pm

Will the players ever be held accountable for playing bad? It seems fans love to play hot potato with blame Dolan or Wedge. I guess it is easier to blame one guy than 6-8 guys who can't be replaced because they are the best of what the organization has.

This team doesn't stink because of payroll. It is a convenient excuse to put this on the ownership (or the manager, really), but this is simply about players failing to perform. Our biggest problems on this team are players who are not meeting their career averages in key spots---particularly Byrd, Johnson, Sauerbeck, and Mota. If these players had been performing up to what they have done throughout their career, this team would be at least 5 or 6 games over .500 right now. Could ownership have spent more? Sure---but this was a bad free agent class. The Indians could have tried to trade to add payroll---but I'll tell you know, every discussion would begin with the names: Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, Jeremy Sowers, etc...In any event---I am not blaming Dolan for this. The players have to held accountable for their performance. It was not unreasonable to expect Mota to be a quality setup guy. He isn't the only one failing to meet expectation---there are a few others...and most of them have track records that said they would be better than this.
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Nice Digs

Unread postby Tree » Wed Jun 14, 2006 2:32 pm

Thought I would pop in to holler at yah!
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Unread postby pup » Wed Jun 14, 2006 3:23 pm

Mark - I agree, to a point.

The problem with that is there is someone in place whose job it is to hold the players accountable. His name is Eric Wedge. My "job" is to hold Eric Wedge accountable for the play of his players.

Johnson and Byrd are actually pretty close to their career numbers(not that their career numbers are anything to smile about). When you bring in a pitcher with a career ERA of around 5, this is what you should expect: 6 innings, 3-4 runs. That is about what they are getting. That means if your bullpen can get the job done and allow less than 3 runs in 3 innings, and your offense can score 6 runs a game you should win half the time.

If Mota is not getting the job done, then he should not be brought in to the game in situations where he can blow it. If he is, he should be on a very short leash. The problem with a clueless manager is it takes him too long to figure out that a guy like Mota sucks and he keeps going to him. It only takes a couple of those games to go from above .500 to below.
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Unread postby mark » Wed Jun 14, 2006 4:10 pm

The main thing I have been disappointed with in Wedge is how long he insisted on using the same batting lineup from last season, while Peralta was showing to be our worst hitter. That was idiotic...especially when you have two guys batting way above expectations (Blake and the 1B platoon).

As for Mota---what would you have done? Cabrera, Miller, and Bentacourt all went to the DL at the same time. He has buried Mota now that two of those three are able to pitch and pitch well. At the time, when Mota began to implode, we had no one else. In fact, the local media was trying to pretend Jason Davis was a setup man during all of that. That was the next best option, right?

It is the manager's job to hold players accountable and to push buttons. That said, I don't know what manager could have made that bullpen effective when Cabrera, Miller, and Bentacourt were hurt. As for accountablity---this only works when there are alternatives. Who is going to replace Peralta (I know...I walked into that one)? How about Johnson, Mota, Sauerbeck (who is gone now)? We already have essentially three rookies in the bullpen?

Wedge may be losing his players. I am willing to consider that. That said, you can't get blood from a stone...and when you spend weeks with Mota, Sauerbeck, Graves, Guthrie, and Davis as your bullpen...and you are celebrating when a player like Bentacourt is available again...you know you are low on options.
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Unread postby pup » Wed Jun 14, 2006 4:27 pm

As for Mota---what would you have done? Cabrera, Miller, and Bentacourt all went to the DL at the same time


i don't know. I think he is horrible at handling a pitching staff. There are 7 guys out there. If 3 of them stink, then I try to piece it together with the other 4. If I need to use 7 guys tonight to get through 3 innings, then I use 7 guys tonight. I do not, under any conditions allow one of those guys to lose a game. When a team is struggling, I will never bash a manager for over-managing. You can't make too many moves to try to win a game.

and you are celebrating when a player like Bentacourt is available again...you know you are low on options.


Not a Betancourt fan?

Sauerbeck (who is gone now)?


Has anyone seen the new lefty yet?

when you spend weeks with Mota, Sauerbeck, Graves


Those are three guys that WEDGE chose to go with out of Spring Training. You cannot tell me that there are not 3 better options in Buffalo/Akron than those 3. Yet, Wedge likes his veterans, regardless of actual performance.
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Unread postby swerb » Wed Jun 14, 2006 4:33 pm

Ultimately the players are the ones out there on the field, and also need to be held accountable.

However, this team is 24-32 since starting 6-1. Injuries and all, this is still a very talented baseball team, and I find that record over a 56 game stretch totally unacceptable. Various statistical baseball websites consistently show that the Indians record should be better than it is based on all the factual and statistical data available.

I do feel the Indians will get this thing turned around, and Wedge deserves more time with this team in my view. I think the hole is too deep though. I strongly feel that 94-95 wins will again be mandatory to make the playoffs in the AL. At 30-33, the Indians would have to go 65-32 to get there. And that's a stretch. As a matter of fact, it's damn near impossible.

But ultimately, I just don't know if this team is tough enough. They've been constantly preached a laissez fair approach from day one under the Wedgpiro Regime. Maybe it's coincidence, but this team is making lazy stupid mistakes that suggest the team does not have a sense of urgency. Terrible defense, stupid baserunning, poor situational hitting, and too many mistake pitches.

And they shit their pants in the biggest way possible last year when the pressure mounted in the final week. The 7th biggest statistical collapse in the history of major league baseball according to one very reputable website.

What bothers me the most is that a team this talented is 30-33, and no one seems to give a shit. Every day in the paper, the same tired cliches.

"We'll get em next time."
"We know we're better than this."
"We're gonna get this thing turned around."
"We're close."

A couple hundred miles north, the Tigers took a little different approach. They also developed their minor league system, but supplemented that free agents like Pudge, Maggs, The Gambler, et al. Guys Indians fans laughed at when Detroit paid them what they did.

They hired a fiery veteran manager. The team got off to a so-so start, lost the last two of a three game set to us in early May ... and Leyland flipped out.

The Tigers are like 40-5 since.

Wedge is too worried in my view that all the players like him, and maybe thats a biproduct of his age and inexperience. What he fails to realize is that winning teams all love their managers. Winning cures all ills. Sometimes he needs to upset the apple cart a little bit. Piss some people off.

The White Sox and Tigers are both very good teams that don't appear to be going away anytime soon. When we play them, I just get the feeling Guillen and Leyland are looking across the diamond to the other dugout, thinking to themselves ... "these guys don't got the heart to beat us when it's all said and done."
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Unread postby mark » Wed Jun 14, 2006 4:53 pm

I disagree...I think you can certainly over-manage in these situations. I think that is especially the case when you have players struggling and trying to fit into roles. I think that quick hook and lack of faith leads to players tightening up. Maybe it is fair to criticize the way he handles a pitching staff---it seems every move doesn't work out. Early in the year, if he left the starter in the the 7th, he'd implode (Westbrook), give him the early hook, and the bullpen would cough it up...maybe it is an issue of not handling the staff right. Maybe it is an issue that the staff stinks and will cough up the game regardless.

As for who he broke camp with---do you seriously think we would go into the season with 4-5 rookie relievers? This is supposed to be a contender, right? Half of the Buffalo options have stunk just as bad as the vets (Davis, Guthrie).

As for Bentancourt----I like him okay. However, he was close to being put in moth balls during the stretch run last year. Now---he is the new Bobby Howry. He isn't a savior as a setup guy...though he is the best of what we got. Part of the issue too is he can't pitch effectively two or three days in a row.
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Unread postby pup » Wed Jun 14, 2006 5:07 pm

I disagree...I think you can certainly over-manage in these situations. I think that is especially the case when you have players struggling and trying to fit into roles. I think that quick hook and lack of faith leads to players tightening up


Hogwash. These guys are getting paid to fit into whatever roles they are assigned. If you can't hanlde a quick hook, then pitch better. IMO, the manager sets the tone. Wedge has set a tone of "don't worry, everything will be ok". Well, I will tell you what, everything is not ok, and is not going to be ok.

Last year, it turned out to be close to ok. Most people forget there was another part to the equation of the Tribe making that run. The White Sox went into coast mode. This year, with the Tigers also up there pushing them, there will be no let down.



As for who he broke camp with---do you seriously think we would go into the season with 4-5 rookie relievers? This is supposed to be a contender, right?


I expect them to break camp with the best team possible. If that includes 5 rookies in the bullpen, so be it. If that includes a guy with an perceived attitude problem who might not fit perfectly into a role, I don't care.

Bottom line is Wedge picked the 25 man roster. Wedge sets the tone for the attitude the players play the game with. The 25 man roster was obviously not good enough and the attitude is even worse. Why should the players go out and go balls to the wall when their manager is telling them it is ok to be lacadsical, there is always tomorrow? I would love to get Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner to give their opinion on the attitude of this team. My guess would be it makes both of them very sick.
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Unread postby mark » Wed Jun 14, 2006 6:53 pm

These guys are getting paid to fit into whatever roles they are assigned


At the same time---these guys are professionals and should be expected to perform...yet, you want to hold Wedge responsible for their lack of performance.

I don't like Wedge, I don't hate him...I guess that is a slam in ways against a manager if he's been in charge of your team for over 3 years. I will agree that his handling of a pitching staff is questionable. But---I think part of that is how he played roles. Last year, for example, I felt his decision to only use Bentencourt (sometimes), Howry, and Wickman down the stretch really became a self fulfilling prophecy of lack of faith in the other guys. I understand why he lost faith in Riske and Sauerbeck---however, I would argue that his choice to never use them the last month plus really rendered those guys even less effective.

These guys are still human---confidence goes up and down. I think that is probably the hardest part of being a big league manager. We talk about this like a fantasy team---but a real skipper needs to have an ability to know when to let a guy work out of a funk, when to yell at him, when to give up on him...maybe Wedge isn't as strong at that as some other guys.

Anyway---I don't think this thing is all him. These guys have to be held accountable for performance...while Wedge might not be pushing the buttons in the best combination, I don't think a mangerial change makes this team better.
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Unread postby pup » Wed Jun 14, 2006 8:08 pm

I will agree that his handling of a pitching staff is questionable


+

but a real skipper needs to have an ability to know when to let a guy work out of a funk, when to yell at him, when to give up on him...maybe Wedge isn't as strong at that as some other guys.


=

A bad manager?

What does he bring? A manager has a few very specific responsibilities.
1. Decide on the best lineup. I don't think anyone agrees with his performance here so far.
2. Handle pitching staffs. Maybe the parts aren't there, maybe they are. All I know is every move he makes is wrong.
3. Keep players motivated and playing hard. Peralta is all I need to say about that.
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Unread postby pup » Wed Jun 14, 2006 8:09 pm

Wedge might not be pushing the buttons in the best combination, I don't think a mangerial change makes this team better.




Ask the 2004 Astros if a managerial change can make a difference.
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Unread postby mark » Wed Jun 14, 2006 8:47 pm

you might as well invoke the 2003 Marlins while you are at it too...Twice in the last 100 years of baseball, a managerial change in season lead to a big change in performance and team moving to the playoffs. More often, it is a sign of throwing in the towel.

I guess a new manager might work miracles. I new voice might help...I just have my doubts. It is possible a new manager makes Mota, Johnson, and Byrd good pitchers. It think is more likely that a manager won't change those performances
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Unread postby pup » Wed Jun 14, 2006 10:43 pm

Twice in the last 100 years of baseball, a managerial change in season lead to a big change in performance and team moving to the playoffs.


Anything pre wild card and three divisions is not even in the conversation. When a talented team is playing UNDER expectations, it has proven to work twice. We are not talking about replacing a Joe Torre here. We are talking about someone who in 3 years of service has gotten his players to all play good at the same time for less than one half of a season. And this is not the Kansas City Royals changing managers. This team can win. They can score runs with anyone in the game and have 3 guys in the rotation that can win nearly every time out.

There are worse guys you can run out there as a #4 starter than Paul Byrd. Jason Johnson is mud, and should be skipped at every oppurtunity (like tonight) or shipped out of town and let Sowers, Carmona or Guthrie have a shot. A new manager would not give Mota the ball in close games, so that is a mute point IMO.
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Unread postby mark » Thu Jun 15, 2006 8:58 am

Well, I feel like I have been put in the position of defending Wedge. I really feel surprising neutral about the guy. If Shapiro fired him this weekend, I wouldn't be terribly surprised...if he was still the manager at the start of next year, I wouldn't be terribly surprised. Either case would certainly be defensible.

While, I am willing to hear that he may have lost this team or that the guys need to hear a new voice or whatever...the reality is that even with a new manager, player performances need to change dramatically...and it has to be, for the most part, the guys that are currently on the roster. There aren't really many reasonable alternatives in the organization. While Wedge picked this roster---I really think that only two spots on this roster were really in doubt (the Graves spot and the Vazquez spot---Graves was a calculated risk...Vazquez, a huge mistake). I don't see someone else saying, "We have to cut Mota". In fact, he actually pitched pretty well the first month or so.

Anyway---I don't love Wedge. But, I am not going to dillute myself into thinking that this comes down to one guy. This team stinks...and it does stink...because of a solid handful of players underperforming. There are not enough alternatives in organization to replace all of the underperformers. There aren't enough players on the 25 man roster playing well enough to even switch roles around and get better results. This is a player issue. In fact, 99.9% of the time, team losing is simply about the players. Which is why firing a manager rarely, if ever, leads to dramatically different results. It's normally just a way of putting a new dress on that pig.

So---I say, go ahead and fire Wedge...but you better hire some sort of wizard that can make a full third of the roster stop being bad baseball players. Otherwise, you are just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
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Unread postby pup » Thu Jun 15, 2006 9:45 am

So the most compelling argument anyone has given comes from someone that isn't sold on him either. Is there anyone out there who feels Wedge should stay? Is there anyone who thinks this season is still alive? Is it time to start selling some of the veterans off? I don't think there will ever be a time where Brousard, Perez, Blake, or Boone will have more value than today. There are some teams out there with some young middle infielders that are stuck behind some guys that need some help. Is there a trade that might land us a Brandon Wood (Angels) or Stephen Drew (D'Backs)?
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