Twenty games into a baseball season that's 162 games long is not the time to panic.
Forty games into a season is the quarter pole and by then you should have a pretty solid idea of what your team looks like. If you're still close to the leaders then you stay the course for another 4-6 weeks and you see if you get some breaks and some health and give it a run.
But when you're 60 games into season and 11 games under .500 it's time to make a move.
Understand this: I do not blame Eric Wedge for the Indians woes. Eric Wedge is just a guy. He's an average Major League manager reliant upon talent and good fortune like 90% of the other managers in the game. If the talent he's been given produces and stays healthy you can have a season like 2007 when the Indians were a game away from a World Series berth and Wedge was the American League Manager of the Year.
And there is nothing different about Eric Wedge or his managerial style this year when you look at guys like Grady Sizemore, Fausto Carmona and Jhonny Peralta who have struggled famously in comparison to 2007 when they helped lead the Indians to the brink of that World Series appearance. Eric Wedge had nothing to do with Carmona's collapse or the fact that Sizemore can't get healthy and Peralta can't hit his weight.
Eric Wedge has nothing to do with the fact that Rafael Perez turns into a puddle of goo on the mound in 2009 or that Travis Hafner has linguine in his shoulder where muscle used to be. Eric Wedge can no easier make a silk purse from a sow's ear than he can make Luis Vizcaino or Greg Aquino throw strikes.
The Indians are where they are in the standings because there is a lack of talent at the Major League level and because once reliable performers are no longer performing for one reason or another.
It's not because of Eric Wedge.
But he needs to go.
And the reason that he needs to go now as opposed to six weeks ago is that the team has actually lost ground to the .500 line and continues to falter. Allowing Wedge to remain in control of a sinking ship sends the wrong message. It says, "Hey, we all struggle and that's okay. We understand and we're willing to wait and hope that things turn around."
And that's not acceptable.
Baseball seasons and, more importantly, baseball rosters are fluid. They change from year to year. At every point in the season you have assets and fortunes are in a constant of flux. Some of those assets, like Mark DeRosa and Jamey Carroll, have expiration dates. It's time to consider exchanging some expiring assets for future assets and a manager who's unlikely to survive into next season is not a person who should have input on if and when such moves are made.
This season looks to be over folks. It's time to consider what's best for this team in the near future.
This is important enough to reiterate: I don't want Eric Wedge gone because of some ‘spark' a newly hired manager might provide. I find that premise laughable. The Arizona Diamondbacks gained next to nothing by replacing Bob Melvin's voice with A.J. Hinch's voice.
The Colorado Rockies have been one of the hottest teams in the league since Jim Tracy replaced Clint Hurdle. You believe that's due to a ‘spark' that Tracy provided or because Troy Tulowitzki suddenly regained his hitting stroke and Garret Atkins did the same?
It's not about a spark. Hell yes, I'd take one if it went down that way but it would be coincidental and it would actually require that the Tribe pitchers pitch to their expectations and that the ofense continues to score runs.
I want to see a move made because it shows consideration for the future of the organization. Not only does it send a message that management deems this level of ‘success' unacceptable but it also knocks down the first wall of the Wedge-Shapiro partnership that has grown stale and has been largely ineffective. My impression is that they are stronger and more comfortable as a pair than they are individually. It's easy for Shapiro to get upset at a result when he has support from his manager. It's easy for Wedge to feel secure after a mind-numbing loss when he feels no pressure that his job is on the line.
When the first domino falls the safety net will be eliminated. There will be more focus on Shapiro and his record of talent acquisition and a new manager may not swallow his tongue or fall on his sword like Wedge has after he's spent countless nights watching Trevor Crowe and Ben Francisco make a mockery of the game. Shapiro will potentially feel some pressure to go out and get some major league talent as well as put more attention into the draft that has yielded this mid-market next to nothing over the years.
If he doesn't then he's next.
There is a crack in the foundation of this organization. One that's visible to anyone with more than a passing interest in the team. The men in charge have given no indication thus far over 60 games that they are capable of repairing it.
Changing the leadership on the field will signal that the status quo is not good enough and that no one is safe from the process of improving the product and it will be a shot over Shapiro's bow that he is also on notice.
In the short term firing Eric Wedge is unlikely to make a bit of difference this season. And as stated before it's largely a symbolic move. But there comes a time when a symbolic move is the only move left to make. And in this case it comes after multiple moves have been made to a roster and no ground is gained.
Wedge has had his opportunities and been given his chances. He's proven to be a solid baseball guy who hasn't been able to overcome the lack of talent bestowed upon him.
It's not all his fault.
But it is time for him to go.