The 2009 season started with great promise for the Cleveland Indians. Some publications picked them to win their division, and the long-suffering hearts of Cleveland sports fans were filled with a desperate, wild-eyed hope that this might be the year. Alas, the season quickly turned to ashes in the mouths of Cleveland fans. The Tribe was dismal from the get-go, long ago unloaded its marquee players in the hope of getting some prospects who might pan out in the future, and ended the season with a twisting death spiral that leaves then struggling to stay ahead of the horrible Kansas City Royals and out of the AL Central cellar.
The reaction of Cleveland management was to fire Eric Wedge, the manager, today. Wedge managed the Tribe for seven years and got them into the playoffs once. I’m not someone who always blames the manager or head coach when a team underperforms — usually, it is the players’ fault — but I think Indians’ management made the right call in showing Wedge the door. He was supposed to be the cerebral catcher-coach with great baseball knowledge, but I never saw much sign of that. As a small market team, the Tribe can’t buy its way into the playoffs every year, like the Yankees or the Red Sox, but it clearly has had quality players during Wedge’s tenure. I don’t think he ever took a mediocre team and made it a good team through savvy moves, much less take a good team and make it a great one.
As the Tribe enters what will no doubt be a long, painful rebuilding process, there is no point in having some failed retread as the manager. Better to bring in a new face, with some fire, who might motivate promising youngsters to overachieve.