Sunday, June 1, 2008

2008, What Went Wrong?

Well, are you convinced now?
The 2008 edition of the Cleveland Indians will struggle to reach .500 by September 28th. Despite being almost the same team that was one victory away from the World Series in 2007, what went wrong?
Was it the inability to make a meaningful trade since October?
Is it the inability of the individual players to hold themselves accountable to a higher level of performance as professional athletes?
Is it the inability of the coaching staff to recognize and correct hitting and pitching issues at the major league level?
Is it the inability of manager Eric Wedge to hold his team accountable for a level of performance?
Is it GM Mark Shapiro’s acceptance of the level of play season-to-date, allowing his coaching staff to let the team work through their performance shortcomings?
Could it be the miss-handling of the 25 man roster through injuries, options, and the DL?
Yeah, probably all of the above.
However, there is evidence of a bigger issue that has emerged lately that more than likely ties directly into all of the above.
That issue is communication.
On Saturday night, manager Eric Wedge inserted his top player, Grady Sizemore in the DH spot in the lineup. Everyone knows that Sizemore saved the game Friday night with a fabulous catch, slamming both knees and his head into the fence to make the catch as he fell hard to the ground. It was assumed that the catch kept Grady out of center field. Asked about the change, Wedge stated that the catch bruised Sizemore’s knee and that prompted him to take Sizemore “off of his feet but still leave him in the game.” When Sizemore was asked, he responded, “I’m OK, maybe he’s just giving me a rest.” It sounds like there was no discussion. Not that Wedge needs to clear anything with Sizemore but wouldn’t you get more from your top player if you were up front and said something like, “Here’s how were are going to use you to your best potential tonight…” Instead, Sizemore went 0 for 5 at bat.
Wednesday afternoon, Wedge publicly addressed reliever Raphael Betancourt’s failure to pitch inside. Wedge stated that pitching coach Carl Willis has told Betancourt “100’s of times” to throw inside. 100’s of times?
The communications issue has also been a problem with the media and fans.
Since DH Travis Hafner began having hitting problems since spring training, we have been told repeatedly that Hafner was not injured. He went on the DL on Friday with an injured shoulder that is being blamed for his hitting woes.
Since spring training, the media had been hounding the coaching staff as well as the front office on the loss of pitching velocity by Jensen Lewis. The response was that nothing was wrong with Lewis. Earlier last week, Lewis was sent down to the minors to work on his velocity issues.
Same-same for closer Joe Borowski. Since spring, his velocity was down and he was getting hammered. The response was that Joe was not injured. After giving up 5 runs to blow a lead and the game in April, Borowski was put on the DL.
Sheldon Oker of the Akron Beacon Journal reports that minor league pitcher Adam Miller had surgery on his right middle finger on Tuesday. The Indians released a statement on Wednesday that Miller would undergo the surgery that would end his season.
As in any business, the Indians certainly have the right to choose what information to share and when to share it. However, this organization appears to be of the mind that they will make decisions and those decisions are not to be questioned by the media, the fans, or the players.
Honesty and openness are missing, especially with the players. By skirting the issues or lacking honesty, the organization appears to lack the confidence in their decision making.

1 comment:

Deaner said...

Yeah I was at the game on Saturday night and was somewhat disappointed to see Grady at DH and not in center.