Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sending a message

It's always interesting to see how long a manager will wait before publicly criticizing his team. For Eric Wedge this year the answer was 18 games. That's how long it took for Wedge to blow his stack. It came after the Indians' 5-1 loss to Minnesota Saturday night. With that loss the Indians had scored one or no runs in there of their previous four games.

That, as Wedge likes to say, isn't going to get it done. So in his post-game meeing with the media, Wedge ripped his team's hitters, criticizing them, collectively, for their poor approach to hitting, and inability to generate any rallies or score runs. One of Wedge's biggest annoyances was his team's sudden lack of discipline. Counting that loss Saturday night Indians hitters had gone three full games and 26 consecutive innings without drawing a walk.

That's ridiculous.

Wedge thought so, too, which is why he chose to do something he is typically very reluctant to do, which is to publicly rip his team. In his six-plus years as manager of the Indians Wedge averages about one public scolding of his team per season. Usually, however, it comes in the second half of the season. It's very unusual for Wedge to lose his patience this early in a season. The explanation for that probably lies in the fact that the Indians in the previous four games looked so bad that Wedge felt he had to say something. But another explanation is that Wedge knows, and welcomes, the lofty expectations for the Indians this season.

Many so-called experts both in and out of Cleveland predicted the Indians would win their division this season. Through the first three weeks of the season, however, the Indians haven't looked anything like a team capable of winning its division. The pitching overall has been horrendous. The hitting was good for the first two weeks but awful the last week. Clearly Wedge feels the one facet of the team he needs to get consistent production from is the hitters. That should be the least of his worries this season.

But over the last week it has been the MOST of his worries. And that led to his rip job of the team Saturday night, which, by the way, was completely calculated by Wedge. When managers rip their teams they do so with a purpose. In this case Wedge wanted the Indians' hitters to read what he had said about them, hoping to shake them from their lethargy.

Did it work? Well, they scored four runs Sunday. You be the judge.


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