To the surprise of absolutely no one, Eric Wedge will reportedly be fired as the manager of the Cleveland Indians today.
There are few who would dispute that Wedge needed to go, but just how much of what went so wrong for the 2009 Indians was his fault? Perhaps not as much as he has been blamed for, but certainly enough to merit his dismissal.
Many have argued that after the trades that sent CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Victor Martinez (as well as other big players) packing, Wedge was left to fight a war he couldn’t win, armed only with sticks and rocks against an enemy packing heavy artillery.
There is no doubt some truth to this assertion, but the fact remains that if Wedge had been able to manage the team successfully back when he had such talent at his disposal, most of those players would never have been traded away.
The Dolans promised to put money into the team if the team did well, and for a time, both parties held up their end of the bargain. In the end though, Wedge couldn’t continue to honor his part of the agreement, and ownership responded in kind by cutting back on payroll for a bad team, arguably a correct and proportionate response.
What the ownership giveth, the ownership may take away.
Of course, Wedge cannot be blamed for injuries, for the epic demise of Fausto Carmona, or for young pitching that failed to produce simply because the staff wasn’t ready to compete at a major league level.
The blame lies not only with bad management courtesy of Eric Wedge, but with poor personnel decisions made by Mark Shapiro, with a group of players who appeared to have given up at the first sign of trouble, and with just plain old bad luck.
Still, Wedge was well aware of what failure, no matter how the blame was divided up, would cost him personally. The proverbial Sword of Damocles has been hanging above Wedge's head for quite some time now. He, as much as anyone else involved, had the opportunity to stop the blade from falling.
Certainly there is some accuracy in the claim that Wedge was just the sacrificial lamb made to pay for the 2009 season, just as Louis Issacs was when the bullpen failed in 2008. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t deserve to be shown the door.
If Wedge was merely the whipping boy meant to stand before the world and take all the lashes that a whole cast of characters had earned, then I can’t think of a better candidate to take the fall.