Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Indians Dismiss Eric Wedge

The Cleveland Indians today fired manager Eric Wedge and his coaching staff although they will keep their jobs for the last six games of what has been a forgettable 2009 season.

Wedge had been at the helm of the Tribe since 2003. The Indians reached their epoch in 2007 when they won the AL Central and came within one victory of going to the World Series. The Tribe had a three games to one lead against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS but could not close the deal. Instead, the Red Sox went to the Fall Classic and won their second World Series title in four years by sweeping the Colorado Rockies. The downward dissent began there and has pretty much continued unabated.

The Indians struggled in 2008 although with a strong September they finished with a .500 record. This year things got worse as the season wore on. As of this writing, they have lost 20 of their last 25 games. After they host the Chicago White Sox for their last two home games, perhaps adding insult to injury, they travel here to face the Red Sox including former teammate Victor Martinez. As if they needed any more reminders of Boston.

There's almost nothing redeeming about the Indians. Nearly all the good players like Martinez, 2008 Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee and Ryan Garko have been traded to greener pastures. Other players like Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner have been disappointments. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is starting pitcher Fausto Carmona. Two years ago, Carmona was 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA and finished fourth in balloting for the AL Cy Young Award (which was won by his then teammate C.C. Sabathia.) In 2009, Carmona is 4-12 with a 6.62 ERA, the worst ERA in the AL. At one point, Carmona was demoted to Rookie league ball. Baseball can be a cruel game (although being sent to the minors did do wonders for Cliff Lee.) Carmona makes his final start of the season tonight.

While the New York Yankees have seven players with 20 or more homeruns, the Indians have none. Shin-Soo Choo is leading the team with 19 homeruns. He has been their most consistent offensive player who is also leading thet team with a .303 batting average and 83 RBI. The only problem is South Korea wants him to complete his compulsory military service next year. Then again the way the Indians have played fullfiling his military obligations might be easier than playing another season for the Tribe.

I remember being in Cleveland a decade ago at Jacobs Field (now known as Progressive Field) when they sold out their 350th consecutive home game en route to a fifth consecutive AL Central Division title. Now their ballpark looks nearly as empty as old Municipal Stadium did in the 1970s and 1980s.

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