Cleveland’s biggest losses recently have come at the hands of the Seattle Mariners (3 game sweep at home at the end of August) and 3 out 4 losses to the Royals ( this past weekend at home). Those 6 losses are certainly games that should have been won. What if we had won those 6 games? We would be 78 and 71, 5.5 games behind the White Sox, and certainly considered in contention (albeit a long shot) with 13 games remaining. Instead, we are 72 and 77, 11.5 games behind, and not even an afterthought. We all know that the Cleveland Indians were hit with massive injuries to begin the season. We also know that barely nothing was done to improve the staff in the off-season. Then, players that probably had career-seasons in 2007 failed to produce early on in 2008.
The facts are that because the team stayed pat in the off-season was a pretty clear sign that they did not have the money to improve after missing the World Series by 1 game. That sends a message to the players as well as the fans. (The addition of Masa Kobayashi will be the standard that this past off-season will be measured.)
Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner began the season obviously injured and went on the disabled list after contributing no more than 40% because of those injuries. They shouldn’t have played until they were healthy. Who would be better in the line-up, Travis and Victor at 40% or Shoppach, Choo (when he came back from the DL), Blake (before being traded), Gutierrez, or Francisco at 100%? Andy Marte is out of options and is taking up space on the team, just as Martinez and Hafner were early on. With a 25 man roster, we generally had 12 to 13 position players. With 25% of those players being the unproductive Hafner, Martinez, and Marte, how could you possibly compete?
What would other teams do with Andy Marte? (When I say other teams, I mean good teams that contend year after year.) The Yankees would consider Marte expendable. They have the $$$s to make a decision like that. Ditto the Red Sox. The Indians do not have that luxury but they certainly could have gotten something for Marte by now, even if it was a minor league something. They are just too afraid to pull the trigger, fearing that Andy Marte will become another Brandon Phillips. Marte is out of options so he cannot be sent back down to the minors for more work. Are we not capable at the major league level of improving him or assessing that he is as good as he can be?
Those 6 games are very irritating right now.
We put Hafner, Martinez, and Jake Westbrook on the DL, traded CC Sabathia, Casey Blake, and Paul Byrd, and the Indians became one of the hottest teams in baseball since the All-Star break! There is no denying that General Manager Mark Shapiro has his payroll hands tied with this small market team, but to wait until the team was 40 games into the season and spiraling down in the standings before acknowledging a problem is unforgivable. To keep Hafner and Martinez in the line-up was revenue prompted. The team may not have been winning but these fan-favorites put butts in the seats.
How about Eric Wedge?
Despite the trades, injuries, and poor production, it is my belief that Wedge was not the engineer of this team playing better since July but that he was caught by surprise. His constant inclusion of David Dellucci in the line-up and his resting of producing players (Sizemore, Peralta, etc.) on days before a team day off make you wonder just which team he wants to win. This is one of the most stubborn managers the Indians have ever had. I fear that he makes Dave Garcia look like St. Francis of Assisi.
There are those that would argue that things were stacked against Wedge this year. That is a bunch of crap!
There are also those that would argue that the manager cannot make that big of a difference. That is a bigger bunch of crap!
Tell that to the Blue Jays as Cito Gaston has them roaring into contention since taking the club over.
Tell that to the Mets since Jerry Manual has them in 1st place since implementing his philosophy and pointing them in the right direction.
Shapiro and Wedge got comfortable sitting on their laurels, 2007 G.M. and Manager of the year in the American League respectively.
Shapiro and Wedge were not honest in dealing with the media and the fans as far as player injuries were concerned.
Shapiro and Wedge need to go away…and take your little brother Masa Kobayashi with you.