The Cleveland Indians have left a lot of fans scratching their heads, as a once-promising season outlook has been replaced by the reality that their season is over at the All-Star break.
The worst record in the American league is what the team has to show for their efforts thus far. Here are 10 reason why this team has been such a bust in 2009.
The Indians front office went into last offseason knowing that their bullpen needed to be a priority. They ultimately made very few moves outside of acquiring Joe Smith.
Instead, they focused on the very back end of the pen and inked closer Kerry Wood to a huge $10 million deal.
If this move was the icing on a series of moves to bolster the pen I wouldn't complain, but the reality is the Indians are a small market club. $10 million is probably what they wanted to allocate all together to adding pieces to the bullpen.
With that being said, the money has been wasted. The set-up men and middle relievers have not been able to set the table for Wood, and he's sat to rot for the most part.
Both of these guys had been historically inconsistent in their young careers.
Both have had struggles with mechanics, especially in May.
Both have confidence issues.
Putting undue pressure on them to perform in the set-up role was unfair. It has led to early failures to a bullpen that is now snowballing.
As has been the case for several seasons now, the Indians got off to a horrible start.
This prompted manager Eric Wedge to go into panic mode, searching and shuffling the lineup to optimize production.
He has done this religiously throughout his career with little success. You look at the teams who are consistently on top of their divisions, and you will find managers who teach consistency and continuity.
Guys know where they are going to play, where they are going to hit, and they can adapt to their roles and settle in. With repetition comes success.
Name a team that has been successful when their leadoff guy strikes out twice as much as he walks, and I'll buy you a Coke.
In general, the whole lineup struggles with making contact, but it really hurt them at the top of the order to start the season.
Sizemore, Choo, and Peralta have combined for 222 strikeouts this year. It is tough to win with that many holes in your bats.
The travails of the bullpen have been well documented but what slips under the radar is how ineffective the starting pitching has been.
Fausto Carmona was nothing short of tragic this year in his futility. Starting pitching has seldom lasted late into the game outside of Cliff Lee, who also happens to be the only starter with an ERA under 5.00.
A lot of stakes were put on Carmona and some of the other young arms (Laffey, Sowers, Lewis and/or Miller) to have decent seasons, and none of them have produced as a starter.
The Indians, like many other teams, have been ravaged by injuries. Several of their key contributors have missed significant amounts of time. Both pitching and hitting have been impacted by injuries.
Stats and scoreboards don't lie.
When a team gets dominated in Interleague play you for the second straight year, you have to start asking some tough questions.
Any baseball purist will agree that a team's manager has more of a direct impact on the outcome of a game in NL play.
There are more moves to be made, due to the pitchers hitting instead of having a DH.
The Indians have been atrocious in Interleague play, which I do not think is a coincidence.
Wedge is now infamous in Cleveland for his mismanagement of the bullpen, as well as his lineup in general.
I think the same thing can be said about close games, as you look at the number of games the Tribe lost in the last couple of innings. At some point, fingers need to point at the manager. See No. 2 for reasons why this hasn't happened.
If you don't throw strikes you can't win games!
The Indians have given up more walks then any other team in the American league, which helps explain why their ERA is so bad, and why their bullpen may be the worst in history of the franchise.
Throwing strikes is the most important of all the fundamentals, and the Indians have not done this all year long.
The pitchers certainly need to be blamed
At the same time, if fundamentals aren't being taught consistently at all levels, then they will be exposed at the major league level.
For the third season in a row, the month of May caught the Tribe sleeping. Before they could even look up, they were trailing by several games in the standings.
There have been consistently bad results on all fronts, including teaching and coaching of the fundamentals.
This should draw an easy conclusion that the problem lies in the front office management.
But in the case of the Indians, they have stood steadfast by manager Eric Wedge, unwillingly to heap any of the blame on his shoulders.
The players are responsible for the bad results, but the manager should be held accountable. The team is not responding to Wedge as a manager, and a change was needed in the month of June.
Once again, the front office has not acted, and instead has given Wedge an endorsement that the job is his through the remainder of the season.
This not only leaves fans doubting the strategy of the front office, but it shows a lack of respect for the franchise in my opinion, as two full years have been sacrificed for the sake of some close bonds between a manager and a GM.
Awful, atrocious, pathetic, brutal, and just plain bad are all adjectives that correctly summarize the Indians bullpen. The bottom line is that these guys can't get people out.
Point No. 9 above was the starting point in my mind.
Wedge's unique ability to panic put the finishing touches on what will go down in history as the worst bullpen in Cleveland Indians history.