The picture to this article pretty much sums up what the 2009 Cleveland Indians' season has been like from both the player's and the fan's stand point. Frustration!
How in the world did this team ever get to this point? This was a team that some experts, for the second year in a row, picked to go to the World Series. In a sense who could have blamed someone for thinking that they could at least contend?
This year was very promising to start with. The bullpen problem from last year seemed to be fixed with a little bit of tinkering that they did, but the big solution was supposed to be the arrivals of former Mets reliever Joe Smith and the fact they finally added a closer with Kerry Wood.
The Tribe was going to start the season with Cliff Lee who looked like he may have finally turned the corner after a Cy Young Award winning season and the promise of a healthy Fausto Carmona.
There was even promise in the young starters like Jeremy Sowers, Scott Lewis, and Aaron Laffey being able to solidify that starting rotation until Jake Westbrook could make it back from his Tommy John surgery.
Mark DeRosa was brought in to take Casey Blake's role on the team. Having DeRosa meant Eric Wedge could finally move Jhonny Perhalta over to third base where many felt he belonged anyway. Peralta had been at shortstop since he came to the big leagues and showed a real lack of range.
Finally some stability came with DeRosa. The team could move Asdrubal Cabrera to shortstop, DeRosa at second, and then have Ryan Garko and occasionally Victor Martinez playing first and you would have a much better infield.
All that plus this was supposed to be Shin Su Choo's and even Ben Fransisco's year; and they had all the makings of a team ready to make some noise. So manager Eric Wedge, GM Mark Sahpiro, and owner Larry Dolan all thought.
What they thought they had, turned out to be a nightmare that won't end anytime soon, or at least probably not this season. This nightmare may not have a good ending. Nor should it.
There is no reason in the world for this team to have a record of 30-42. It is unacceptable.
It would be one thing if it was full of kids and was part of a rebuilding process, but Mark Shapiro and Eric Wedge would tell you that the rebuilding ended long ago.
So what is this then? It is the direct result of a team that is poorly built and poorly managed. A team that maybe has an owner that should start to think about selling it or start putting money into his investment.
This team has the young talent and veteran leadership to be a fundamentally sound and competitive team, and they are looking like a bunch of little leaguers. It is embarrassing and if the manager cannot solve the problem then perhaps he should not be here.
While I was not a big fan of Mike Hargrove, the big difference with his six or seven years here was that not only had he won, but he also had the complete control and respect of his teams and they had players who where considered hard to handle.
He had to deal with players like Kenny Lofton, Albert Belle, and even Bartolo Colon who seemed to have their own agenda's, but he turned them into winners. Hardgrove took his teams to the World Series twice, won two American League pennants, and five American League Central Division titles.
In seven seasons with the Indians Eric Wedge has gone to the playoff's one time, won one division title, and no American League Pennants or World Series appearances. Other then that the team has pretty much been garbage.
Sure, there have been some exceptions like 2004 when the Indians did make a run at the playoffs but had it cut short in the middle of August when they lost a chance at taking over first place and never recovered.
Then there was 2005 when they recovered from a terrible start and made a run at the playoffs only to choke the last week of the season.
Then came 2007 when the Indians finally made it to the playoffs but experienced fall out in the ALCS.
For as bad as the team has been on the field they have been just as bad, if not worse off of it. Understandably, they felt that they did a better job of going out and getting players that they could plug in and actually be useful this season, but they are still suffering from years of not bringing in the right guys to surround their young kids with.
There are reasons why guys like Luis Vizciano, Jose Hernandez, Ricky Gutierrez, David Delluci, Jason Johnson, Jeff D'Amico, and other are free agents and not highly sought after by other teams. Because they are not that good or very helpful to a team looking to win the World Series.
For far too long Mark Shapiro has settled for bringing in guys like this who are not even second tier options to many teams, yet here they end up in an Indians uniform. Going after veteran free agents to surround the younger players is the way to build a franchise but only if you can find the right players to bring in.
What has been even worse is that the young talent in the minor league system (as evidence of this season) is paying some of the price because they are having to pick up the slack for the mistakes Shapiro has made for bringing in the wrong players.
Jeremy Sowers may still have a lot of talent and upside to him but he may never be what he was intended to be because he is continuously up and down from the minors. He was up here entirely too early to begin with when he made his debut in 2006.
Sowers never should have been up here until September call ups of 2007 or sometime last year at the earliest. Trevor Crowe is in his second stint with the Indians and he still does not look like he belongs up here at times. It is a mess and it is not fair to some of the younger guys.
Let's not even get started with the bullpen. All I am going to say is that it is pathetic when you have a five run lead and almost give it away like what happened last night.
There are a lot of teams that are really bad baseball teams right now, such as the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates. For the Indians to be among those teams is ridiculous. This is a franchise that for over a decade has been one of the more successful ones for better or for worse. Right now it looks like for the foreseeable future it is worse, and it is sad to see.
This product stinks and I have no shame about saying that either. It makes me sick to my stomach to watch this team play.
I could go to Eastlake, Akron, Columbus, or even drive 15 minutes from my house to see the Lake Erie Crushers who are the new Frontier league team and see what I am seeing from the Indians right now.
If I were Eric Wedge right now I would be very afraid.
I would not expect to be back next season because the play of this team has gotten worse the last month. It is too bad because I met Eric at spring training last year during their last season at Winter Haven and he is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, however, being nice won't get you very far when you do a lousy job running your team.
Mark Shapiro is not too far behind. If you or I do lousy work at our jobs, our bosses would fire us. Why should it be any different for Wedge and Shapiro?
In reality while it is still early and yes there is still time to at least finish the season with a sub .500 record, it will be very difficult. The last thing that I or many other fans want to hear is how well the team bounced back and was one of the best teams after the All-Star break. That could be what happens but it is unacceptable from a team that should be one of the best all season long.
In the past I have been criticized by many for being too critical but how can I not be when these teams are nothing but garbage in and garbage out like the Indians have been this season?
This better be a bloody offseason and the right changes better be made. If they are not, the team will be able to play their games in a television studio instead of Progressive field because no one will want to see this team like it is now.
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