Shaking Things Up

   The Indians began the month of June by losing 12 of their first 17 games.  They wrapped up a 2-7 road trip by getting swept in Milwaukee, then came home and got blown out by the Chicago Cubs 12-8.  The following day Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro shook up the Tribe’s clubhouse by making several roster moves.

   Starting pitcher Jason Johnson, who hadn’t won a game since April 23rd, was designated for assignment and reliever Jeremy Guthrie was sent back to AAA Buffalo.  RHP Edward Mujica, who didn’t give up a single run at AA or AAA was called up to take Guthrie’s spot in the bullpen.  Joe Inglett was also called up and will give Manager Eric Wedge flexibility because he can play 2b, SS, left or center field.

   Sowers The biggest move won’t take place officially until Sunday when LHP Jeremy Sowers makes his major league debut against Cincinnati.  Sowers was taken with the 6th overall pick in the 2004 draft and was named the Indians minor league pitcher of the year on ’05.  He will arrive at the big league level faster than anyone could have anticipated.  Sowers has been described as a "cerebral" pitcher who has a great "feel" to pitch.  What does that mean?  When CC Sabathia arrived at the big league level in 2001 he was more of a "thrower" than a "pitcher".  Sabathia relied on his 97 mph fastball to get him through his Major League indoctrination.  Sowers doesn’t have a blazing fastball so he has developed his off speed pitches and has an excellent ability to locate those pitches.  He also has a great understanding of how to attack hitters by exploiting their weakness.

   Shapiro cautioned that no one should expect Sowers to carry the team on his back.  There is always a transition period for any young player making their first foray into the big leagues.  The hope with Sowers is that transition won’t take nearly as long as it has with others.  The bottom line is that Jason Johnson wasn’t going to get any better and with Sowers you have a pitcher that could be a permanent fixture in the Tribe’s rotation for years to come.  It also shows you how desperate teams in contention are for starting pitching when the Boston Red Sox traded for Johnson the day after he was deemed expendable by the Tribe.

   Eric Wedge has also intimated that other veterans jobs could be at stake if things don’t improve quickly.  The Indians aren’t throwing in the towel on the season but, its obvious now they aren’t going to sit around and wait to pull the trigger on more moves to try and get the most out of this season.  The Indians traded Coco Crisp in the off season to acquire a third baseman for the future in Andy Marte.  He was just named the International League player of the week when he homered in 5 straight games.  To a certain extent Sowers forced his way onto the ball club with how well he pitched at Buffalo this year.  The time may soon be coming when Marte does the same.

32 Comments

Wedge has been putting pressure on his veterans to perform. But has he reflected much upon his own decisions and how it’s cost the team dozens of games over the past 2 years? I conservatively estimate they could have had another 15 wins last year had the team worked the situations more strategically. This season, that number sits at about 6 games already with both seasons having about 20 percent more wins that could have logically gone there way without having the best case scenario every time. When a young team fails to do the little things to pad early leads and chip away at early deficits, should that fall solely on the players? Aren’t the coaches resposible for teaching the young guys situational hitting and the team aspects of approaching an at bat to move runners and get runs in? Player substitution and using your bench is key there on the bases and at the plate.

My perception is that Wedge just sits back and lets things happen until it’s too late in the game and the game has already gotten away from him or until a critical situation has bubbled to the surface. That’s no way to manage a young team by putting them in the pressure cooker night after night when they could be playing with a 3 run lead in the 9th instead of a 1 run lead or deficit. Wedge does well with the players in the clubhouse and puts together a solid starting lineup. But he fails to manage well during the middle innings when you can really make adjustments and produce runs. In the 6th and 7th innings, he fails to make moves to put the right guys in the right situations to accomplish one task and help the team from an offensive perspective. Though the team leads the league in hitting, there is a severe lack of timely hitting that comes with experience and good management.

I was dumbfounded last season when Wedge was being talked about for manager of the year because of what the team had accomplished. In my mind, they accomplished those things against the odds and in spite of not getting much help from the coaching staff in getting them to do the small things right. Big innings is no way to make a living. I noticed it early last season, and he improved to mediocrity where he sits today.

Wedge simply appears to be in over his head when it comes to the tactical aspects of managing a game. He seems to be a great guy to have on the bench, in the clubhouse, or in your minor league system, but the majors are about wins and strategy to skew the numbers into your favor. There a tons of ways to gain the respect of your players without having to worry about hurting someone’s ego by pinch hitting for him to produce a win … assuming that’s why he often does nothing when something should be done. It’s one thing to trust your players and quite another to manage run-scoring situations effectively. By the 5th and 6th innings, you should have an idea of what your offense is going to accomplish against a given pitcher on a given day. So rather than sit back and wait for the big inning, chip away at early deficits and pad leads. Often times that leads you to that big inning.

We’re simply too talented to have this bad of a record. The pitching falls on the shoulders of others, though there are some very questionable decisions there where Wedge has put struggling young guys into tough situations where there are more likely to fail than succeed. But most of that falls on the shoulders of upper management for unrealistic offseason expectations of a pitching staff that accomplished a great deal last season. That though is another discussion.

Sorry to say this, but I feel that the Wedge and his hitting and pitching coaches need to go. Sadly, I root against the Indians now so that new management can be brought in sooner so that they can work toward a realistic chance for next season. We’ll likely never even make the playoffs with this current group even if we had made the right moves over the offseason with the relief staff. And if we did make the playoffs, we haven’t shown the ability to manage playoff caliber baseball because of the tactical failures listed above.

I only hope that when the shakeup comes that Wedge steps down and takes a position elsewhere within the Tribe organization. He’s good for the organization … just not the right guy for what he’s doing now.

For those readers out there who may question my knowledge of the game and put me into the ignorant category, I’ve been playing and coaching baseball for 25 years and continue to play in adult leagues with guys that have retired from pro baseball. There’s a great deal to learn from them as baseball has a lifetime of lessons if you’re open to listening.

This year’s team disgusts me after the great results of last year.I have been a faithful fan since 1952 but the debacle of the current season is painful to watch.
Seems like one player after another takes turns in stopping hitting,blowing leads,errors,etc.

“Don’t anybody here know how to play this game?”,as Casey Stengel once said.More housecleaning is needed and FAST!I wonder about Eric Wedge,too.

Sometimes good things evolve from adversity. At least that is what I am hoping for with the Indians. A collapse of the bullpen again, has moved Scott Sauerback and soon with move Guillermo Mota out of the organization.

The purpose of the farm system is to provide fodder for the parent club. A youngster like Ed Mujica may not be ready but at least his performance on the farm has earned him the chance to show his stuff. Likewise Jeremy Sowers may be green but he has earned a chance. If they do not prove to be ready that is not a problem. They have plenty of time to hone their craft in Buffalo should they need to.

The Indians have been bitten by the Brandon Philips Syndrome – the fear of bringing up a youngster too soon. I hope they soon get over it and cultivate the raw material that has shown excellent credentials in the minors, a chance at the major league level. Even at the utility player level, Inglett deserves a chance and Shoppach is more deserving of some more big league time. The Indians are going nowhere with the Laker-Vasquez-Hollingsworth bench tandem.

The year is pretty much a write off at this stage so why not give the next generation of Hafners, Martinezs and Sizemores some big time experience.

In fact, the Indians need to send a thank you card to Juan Gonzalez. If he had not been hurt after his one at bat last year, Grady Sizemore would still probably be grooming in Buffalo.

Let’s give the kids a chance to learn their craft in Cleveland and give the veteran has beens a warm send off, with appreciation

Any time an organization struggles to win games with the kind of talent that the Tribe obviously has, it always comes down to coaching. The team has to play together as a team to win games, regardless of how much talent they have. I don’t know what the current coaching staff is doing to foster the proper “team” environment, but it obviously isn’t working, and the blame rests with them ….

It is time for the Indians to really shake things up and fire Wedge. He has cost the Indians so many games it is amazing. Plus the sign of a leader is his ability to keep his team from quitting. This ball club has quit!
Also, Don’t give me this “small market” ****. Look at St. Louis. I have lived here for 5 years and had to learn quickly that if you live in Cleveland, you support the Cleveland teams but you also pull for someone else because with the exception of the Cavs,(maybe) Cleveland teams are always “next year” away from winning. You know you **** when Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Minnesoda are all better than you. It is time for a change!

The Indians cannot have it both ways–you can’t build a team for the future and contend at the same time especially when you are in a smaller market. So, you don’t trade a Coco Crisp for a Marte and expect to contend when you have also lost Kevin Millwood. And then you watch your primary competition, the White Sox sign Jim Thome and bring back a stronger team than last year.

Having Marte in the minors while Boone plays third gains nothing for the team in the short or long run. Same can be said for having Wickman, Saurerback, Mota, etc on the pitching staff instead of creating an opportunity for our young pitchers to learn under fire like the Braves did with Glavin, Avery, etc. 15 years ago.

It’s time to battle test our kids and rid ourselves of mediocre players!

IMHO, the missing link this year is Bobby Howry and Kevin Millwood. You can’t let the AL ERA leader go without at least a bona fide attempt at re-signing him and basically now have no setup man in the bullpen and expect to contend. This year’s debacle falls squarely at Mark Shapiro’s feet. Two big blows were dealt to this pitching staff by not making a legit attempt to re-sign those two. Howry especially hurt because it’s painfully obvious that even when they DO get a quality start from a starter, there’s literally no on that has shown they can consistently get them to Wickman. Shapiro needs to look in the mirror and reflect a little on what he’s cost this team in terms of veteran leadership (Coco included) and critical pitching talent.

I do agree that Wedge needs to go, but you cant put all of the blame on him. You know what they say, “the manager is only as good as his players.” And there are some great players on this team, just for some reason they arent playing up to everyones (and Im sure their own) expectations. But if they really want a shot at winning, they’re going to have to give Wedge the boot. True that this season is a little disappointing compared to last season, but there is still 4 months of baseball to play. I believe things will start to look up soon.

I just put a pencil to the numbers. If Detroit goes just .500 the rest of the way, they’ll win 93+ games and obviously be in contention. To catch them, the Indians must go 60 and 29. This year is done. The ‘shake up’ is too little, way too late. And the players are underperforming. They’ll likely ‘quit’ on Wedge – if they haven’t already. I can’t see how they can’t fire him. And Shapriro needs to prove that the talent he’s cultivated in the minors is legit – or he should go at year’s end too. Might as well bring up the kids and have them get some experience. Unbelievably, it’s not even July and they’d be put into a no-pressure situation. Because there’s no WAY the playoffs are reachable for this team.

I want my money back! I purchased 75% of season tickets this year, and after Wedge’s comments as of late we need change. I know it is Major League Baseball but I can’t go anywhere else as Wedge would like us too if we complain about the team. I couldnt unload my tickets if I tried. My problem is I support the team, but what about supporting the fans!! Just give me my money back along with the money spent on overpriced hotdogs and drinks and then when they start putting something back into the team I will come back!

When you watch day in and day out the same failures to execute basic baseball plays such as bunting to the right area of the infield (or bunting at all), hitting behind the runners, throwing to the right base, hitting the cutoff man, taking the extra base when possible, etc the blame has to fall somewhere besides the players making the bonehead plays. Even though they are in the major leagues, many of these guys are far from polished major league players. They are responsible for their own performance, of course, but this clueless coaching staff must share the blame for failure to execute the fundamentals. Wedge is hopeless when it comes to managing the game. Obviously, the rest of the coaching staff is not doing their jobs teaching the right way to play the game and, most importantly, getting the message across and making sure it sticks in these overpriced, ego driven heads. Its very difficult to manage millionaires but it can be done. To paraphrase Clint Eastwood in the film Heratbreak Ridge, the Tribe is looking for a few good men. Unfortunately, these guys ain’t it.

Last night’s debacle was just too painful-now we are 18games out.
How long is this free fall going to be allowed to continue?It is always excuses from one player or another.Now that they are out of playoff contention,Shapiro MUST do something.Enough is enough.Only June and we are done!! The manager and coaches surely have to take responsibility for this mostly incompetent bunch on the field.

I can’t help but notice that postgame phrases from Eric Wedge have gone from, “As a ballclub, you should have some sense of urgency with each day,” he said. “But it’s something you have to keep in check. It’s a fine line. That’s why this game is so tough. I don’t think anyone here is waiting on anything. But we’ve got to go out and do it.”

to,

“It was a total defensive collapse,” said manager Eric Wedge, his voice stern and his face red with anger. “It was an embarrassing end to what could have potentially been a big game for us.”

Where were these words of urgency and motivation a month ago when it mattered?!?!? This team has become unwatchable.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Larry Dolan reacts as this team spirals off the face of the earth and attendance dwindles down to near 4-digit numbers in late August and September (maybe sooner).

The Indians knew that Martinez could not make it in the majors as a catcher, that was reported in Buffalo before he came up. We watched him throw at Buffalo and laughed. Why did the Indians wait until now to try and move him to first base? Peralta is going to make a good thirdbaseman somewhere. The Yankee radio station reported that the Indians are shopping him around. Any comments on that.

The Indians knew that Martinez could not make it in the majors as a catcher, that was reported in Buffalo before he came up. We watched him throw at Buffalo and laughed. Why did the Indians wait until now to try and move him to first base? Peralta is going to make a good thirdbaseman somewhere. The Yankee radio station reported that the Indians are shopping him around. Any comments on that.

Matt, Iknow things are bad but no blog update in almost a month? Your performance is mirroring the players

jhonny peralta is not the long term answer at shortstop for the indians. what are the chances of A-rod coming to cleveland? he’s a natural shortstop, and is very unhappy in new york, and new york is unhappy with him. is it a possibility that the tribe and A-rod could negotiate a deal where both the tribe and A-rod could benefit? A-rod could come to a competitive young team, and a city that would appreciate his talents and accomplishments. the way things are going in new york and the money that A-rod already has in the bank, could the tribe possibly contact his agent to a five year 30 million dollar deal? that would not break the indians bank, and A-rod would come to play for a team that he could be the proven veteran team leader and help them to take a championship.

Here we go again with the recent with the Braves. I think it’s time to turn off the spin doctor and get to the point! The Indians orgaization, led by Cheaparrow has one main initiative! The Indians orgaization will continue to trade a proven player for a hopeful. meanwhile the fans have to suffer by waiting for another “X” years. The problem is that sooner or later the jig will be up. GAME OVER!

I agree with chip and chris. first Peralta is never going to be good defensively, he has to be moved to third base now. What was Shapiro thinking when he gave away so much for a thirbase prospect (who also can’t field) when if fact we needed a shortsstop. Its time he took responsibily for the wheels coming off this team….

If you remember the 1970’s, then you recognize this team and ownership group. The team is always young with one nearly washed-up veteran, always trading their talent. No surprsise, the then GM was located in New York like this ownership group.

Maybe they thought Martinez would improve defensively, they were wrong. His bat does not make up for is lack of defense.

Peralta at third? Maybe for a short time. We do not need Boone. Recall the Tribe send away Coco Crisp for a third baseman who should be introduced now to the bigs.

Peralta was a one year wonder. I wonder what would have happened, last year and this, if they had re-signed Omar. Bring back John Hart!

I wouldn’t say Peralta was a one year wonder, he had a couple of terrific years in Buffalo and is still young. I agree about Boone, he was a another bad choice by the GM. Get the pressure of S.S. off Peralta and he will hit. If Marde plays 3rd and we don’t sign Belliard, the Indians may have the worse infield of all time.

I wouldn’t say Peralta was a one year wonder, he had a couple of terrific years in Buffalo and is still young. I agree about Boone, he was a another bad choice by the GM. Get the pressure of S.S. off Peralta and he will hit. If Marte plays 3rd and we don’t sign Belliard, the Indians may have the worse infield of all time.

I am a born/raised Clevelander who moved to Arizona 20 years ago, but I can still quote you stats for every Tribe player. Cheapiro is turning this bad season into a big joke. Wickman and Broussard for two nobodys. Who’s next – Pronk? Grady? The D-Backs did it the right way in 2001 with Johnson and Schilling, let them go and now have the best farm system in baseball. While the D-Backs won’t win the prize this year, they will be contenders for years to come. This year has been a huge step backwards and the Tribe won’t be a contender for another 10 years the way Cheapiro is making moves.

I’ve been an indians fan ever since i picked up a baseball. I don’t believe you can squarley put all the blame on Eric Wege. These guys are professional athletes, they shouldnt have to be groomed, and petted all the time. I think peralta needs to be sent down to bufallo, he just isnt fundamentally sound yet. These guys have blown games for themselves, you cannot say well Wedge lost this one for us. Granted we went from a contender last year to a pretender. We are only 10 games up on Kansas city which is a sad and depressing thought. That team has been rebuilding since the late 80’s, and i think the Tribe are in for another 5-8 years of mediocre seasons. The big name players dont wanna come here. We couldnt get Garciapara, we couldnt get a closer. Its because they see Cleveland as another disapointment, no chance for the fall classic in their future or now. Inglett has impressed me lately, along with choo. I think inglett next year should take over the duties at second, send boone out of cleveland, and really give marte a chance up here. As far as the outfield is concerned, get another speed guy, get rid of blake, unless he can prove to stay heatlhy, and run Chapiro out of town, if you wanna play some body blame him. Trading brousard for choo was a big mistake, and Wickman even though he was shakey, hes 3 for 3 in Atlanta in save situations, and what is Carmona, 0 for 2. You put that kid in their and he blows another save, you might ruin him for life. New pitching coach. thats all i gotta say.

I’ve been an indians fan ever since i picked up a baseball. I don’t believe you can squarley put all the blame on Eric Wege. These guys are professional athletes, they shouldnt have to be groomed, and petted all the time. I think peralta needs to be sent down to bufallo, he just isnt fundamentally sound yet. These guys have blown games for themselves, you cannot say well Wedge lost this one for us. Granted we went from a contender last year to a pretender. We are only 10 games up on Kansas city which is a sad and depressing thought. That team has been rebuilding since the late 80’s, and i think the Tribe are in for another 5-8 years of mediocre seasons. The big name players dont wanna come here. We couldnt get Garciapara, we couldnt get a closer. Its because they see Cleveland as another disapointment, no chance for the fall classic in their future or now. Inglett has impressed me lately, along with choo. I think inglett next year should take over the duties at second, send boone out of cleveland, and really give marte a chance up here. As far as the outfield is concerned, get another speed guy, get rid of blake, unless he can prove to stay heatlhy, and run Chapiro out of town, if you wanna play some body blame him. Trading brousard for choo was a big mistake, and Wickman even though he was shakey, hes 3 for 3 in Atlanta in save situations, and what is Carmona, 0 for 2. You put that kid in their and he blows another save, you might ruin him for life. New pitching coach. thats all i gotta say.

Why is everyone so high on Marte? He did nothing at Buffalo except make 19 errors in 1/2 a season and hit about 265. There is a thirdbaseman now at Buffalo that just came from AA that is better than Marte. I’ve never seen a team with so much young talent just be destroyed by improper player moves by the management and now the manager. The team has become a joke around the league and our players are learning that games don’t mean anything just lose and collect your check because we’re not serious about winning. I hope people don’t go and support this kind of spring training that is going on.

we can all doubt that carmona has what it takes to become a closer, but what about our manager and pitching coach? can they handle the 9th inning? they certainly haven’t proven it in the past year and a half.I’m very concerned about this whole situation starting with Dolan’s ability to afford a championship team, the team’s ability to get a favorable return for a trade, the overall scouting capabilities, and naturally the ability to retain or attract talented players to this organization. I’m wondering about our future.

the 1970’s all over again!

So we are back into what amounts to Spring Training-trouble is it is AUGUST!!Why would anybody pay good money to watch a half team-the rest consisting of Buffalo Bisons?

If you think we fans are disgusted can you imagine what the Indians’ starting pitchers must feel like-seems the only way to get a win is to pitch a complete game.I have never witnessed such a nosedive in this team from one season to the next and I have been a faithful fan since 1952.

What a debacle!

Unfortunately, I am not confident about Eric Wedge being the one to determine the future of the Tribe’s young talent as well as the future of the entire team; nevertheless, I am confident that with Eric Wedge’s leadership the Tribe can still catch the Kansas City Royals before this season ends.

rehire the players of the 70’s i’d rather watch them lose.

Jeremy Sowers is amazing.. He should stay for ever!!! andy marte should leave and go back to AAA for another year….Boone rules third base.

ppl need to remember that..where’s the Tribes loyalty?

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