Monday, July 6, 2009

Sticking with Wedge

The decision by Indians general manager Mark Shapiro to announce that Manager Eric Wedge will remain on the job through the end of the season was not a popular one among many Indians fans, and understandably so.

You can only disappoint a fan base so many times before the fan base becomes convinced that changes, major changes, are necessary. In this case, firing Wedge would be a major change. However, Shapiro's reluctance to make an in-season change is understandable. Nothing smacks of organizational disarray more than firing your manager in the middle of the sesaon. And nothing reflects more poorly on a general manager than organizational disarray.

Firing a manager during the season gives the appearance of instability, creates even more uncertainty, and leads to endless speculation the rest of the year, assuming an interim manager is named, on who the next manager will be. In other words, firing a manager during the season can lead to even more distractions than not doing so.

The only good reason to fire a manager during a season is if it becomes clear that changing managers might actually lead to the team playing better and climbing back into contention in a division race. That certainly isn't the case with the Indians. Had Wedge been fired, whoever the interim manager would be would still be stuck with the same flawed roster with which Wedge is trying to win. The Indians don't necessarily have the wrong manager. They have the wrong roster. There simply isn't enough talent on the Indians' roster to win a division.

That said, I still believe there's probably a 50-50 chance the Indians change managers after the season. Wedge has been given a reprieve, not a mulligan, on this season. Unless there is a dramatic improvement in how the team plays in the second half of the year, Wedge's situation will heat up again immediately after the season, and it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see the Indians make a change then.


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