Cleveland Indians in the Crosshairs

Tom HammerContributor IJune 22, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 19:  Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge argues with the umpire about a Jorge Posada #20 of the New York Yankees pinch hit two-run home run in the seventh inning of their game against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium on April 19, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  The hit was reviewed by instant replay, and was ruled a home run.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

To preface this post, I'd like to share that I am and have been a hard core Cleveland Indians fan for over two decades.  To say that being a fan equates to a weekend at Cedar Point is probably an accurate parallel as the ups and downs are extreme and violent. 

I've become numb the past several years as I feel like I've reached the point of indifference.  While this is a horrible spot to be in as a fan, as a writer it actually allows me to be more objective with my opinions on the direction of the team. 

In this light, I'd like to address this current version of the Tribe and give readers a little bit of a different angle on the lack of success that's been demonstrated on the diamond this year.

I'll first go to the "Fire Eric Wedge" mantra that's been so prevalent the past few months. 

Accountability and responsibility are two terms that are often used interchangeably in the world of business and in sports and I think in order for an organization, be it a professional sports franchise or a fortune 500 company, to be successful a crystal clear definition needs to be communicated and understood by all resources. 

In professional sports, ultimate accountability for success or failure falls to the manager, albeit baseball blurs the line more then any other sport.  I personally feel it is more difficult for a manager to put their personal prints on a game, then any other coach for any other sport.

But the fact remains, if a team doesn't win it is the manager who should be held accountable. 

Responsibility in professional sports falls to the players, as their actions and performance directly correlate to whether a team wins or loses.  So while the manager is accountable for wins, the players are responsible to do what the manager asks and execute in order to get those wins. 

In the case of the Indians, I definitely feel like the players have not lived up to their responsibilities, especially the bullpen, and I also feel that Eric Wedge should be held accountable for the failures. 

Eric Wedge has been around baseball his whole life and I do not doubt or dispute that he is a very intelligent and cerebral coach who also seems to demonstrate the ability to motivate and relate to the players.

He knows more about baseball then I do, that I'm sure, so for me to question his game tactics I feel is like the custodian questioning the principal of a high school. 

Not one member of Tribe nation knows the inner workings of the team and franchise like Wedge so I think a lot of wasted words have been written.  But the bottom line remains, the Indians have not been winning games and you can go back to last year for examples. 

I think it's time management holds him accountable and goes a different direction.  The longer they wait to make this move, the more credibility they lose with the fans and players.  If a player sees that a manager isn't held accountable then they definitely won't feel responsible to perform for that manager.  It's a cycle and it's time to make a change.

Second and lastly, I'd like to address the elephant in the room and that is the bullpen.  Let's be honest, the bullpen has been flat out atrocious.  Some of the worst work, I've seen done by a staff of pitchers in my thirty three years of watching baseball.  They lack confidence, they lack discipline and they lack talent. 

That is not a troika of favorable circumstances that leads to success. 

Now to be fair, I think the pieces that were in place to start the season, and the exhibition of talent and past statistics would not have led me to believe they would be this bad.

But, I also believe that the major flaw that I see of Tribe management is their willingness to put heavy stakes on inexperienced and unproven players who have demonstrated a lot of talent but haven't necessarily ever achieved consistent results. 

I'd say this is especially prevalent with the pitching staff.  For example they tagged Fausto as the ace of this staff and he really has only ever shown flashes.  The same can be said about Jensen Lewis and Rafael Perez, two relieves whom I'm sure Wedge felt he could rely on as his set up men to get left and right handers out in pressure situations. 

The issue I see is, these guys again are young and inexperienced and when you put these type of players in these tight situations and they don't experience success early, it creates a snow ball effect where each time out the pressure grows and they don't have the tools to draw on to get them through it. 

What is left is a head case of a player with no confidence and that doesn't not bode well for a relief pitcher in the big leagues.  Again, this is where the accountability factor rears its heads, and I think Wedge should have eased these guys into those roles and allowed some of the more veteran guys to assume the pressure situations to start the season.

He didn't go that direction and now he's left in panic mode, searching his minor leagues and the waiver wires for any arm that is different then the arms that have failed. 

I'll continue to write about the Tribe for the remainder of the season but with the season in the crosshairs at this very moment, I felt compelled to post my opinion.  I don't feel all is lost at this point for the Tribe and I think if management made a decision, that would offer a fresh start that maybe could spark them in the right direction. 

Personally, I feel Wedge has a great relationship with management because he is a great guy and has a great personality.  But, to parallel business again, nice guys finish last in most cases.