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Indians fire manager Eric Wedge and entire coaching staff

Sep 30, 2009, 12:32 PM EDT

Last week I wrote that Eric Wedge was unlikely to be back for his eighth season as Indians manager in 2010 because “general manager Mark Shapiro probably needs to make someone the fall guy before all of the attention turns to him.”
Sure enough, this morning Shapiro cleaned house by firing Wedge and his entire coaching staff, including hitting coach Derek Shelton, pitching coach Carl Willis, bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez, first base coach Luis Rivera, and third base coach Joel Skinner.
Making the announcement with less than a week remaining in the season is curious timing, but apparently Wedge and his staff have agreed to stay on for the final six games before clearing out their offices. Don’t feel sorry for him though, because Wedge has one season left on his contract and the Indians will be paying him $1.3 million in 2010.
Indians fans can provide a laundry list of Wedge’s faults and I’m certainly not going to suggest that he deserves to stay on the job for an eighth season after going 560-568 with just one playoff appearance in seven years. However, the team’s problems clearly stretch beyond the man writing out the lineups. When viewed in isolation most of Shapiro’s moves look sound, but the end result of his wheeling and dealing has been a series of disappointing teams that have now turned into a full-fledged rebuild. Again.
While in Cleveland for the Society for American Baseball Research convention two years ago I attended a panel discussion featuring Shapiro and St. Paul Saints owner Mike Veeck. Shapiro came across as incredibly intelligent and capable, impressing a room full of hardcore baseball nerds with both his open-mindedness and experience. Yet even then there was plenty of unrest among the Indians fans in the room and he had a hard time shrugging off questions about Wedge’s job security.
Now that Wedge won’t be around to take the first wave of criticism, it’ll be interesting to see if Shapiro can get things turned around before the attention turns to him. He’s been on the job since 2002, constantly rebuilding and reloading, but has just one playoff appearance and two winning seasons to show for it despite playing in a weak, low-payroll division that the Indians absolutely dominated from 1995-2001.

  1. John Seale - Sep 30, 2009 at 1:23 PM

    Thank you fellow Tribe fans…we did it…

  2. Frank-CA - Sep 30, 2009 at 2:36 PM

    Trying to a Cleveland fan is difficult to do when as long as I can remember the ownership of the city is either lacking the expertise or knowledge to bring a winner to that city. Team after team have falled for decades and it doesn’t seem to matter what sport you choose. Not since the 60’s has the city had any kind of winner so the question is why then and not now. Original teams of the city have moved to other cities and with the exception of the Cavaliers, mediocracy seems to be the accepted norm (of ownership). Part of it could be that these teams have not evolved from the model and plans that worked in the past to what is successful for teams today. Building prospects from within the organization seems to be working elsewhere why not in Cleveland? Or have they all been traded away for a one time wonder that again didn’t work out for the long haul.

  3. D.G. - Sep 30, 2009 at 2:50 PM

    Shapiro should have also been fired.

  4. Keith - Sep 30, 2009 at 4:27 PM

    1. 3rd base coach Joel Skinner has been with the Indians since before Wedge and was making the same mistakes then.
    2. The Idians batting coach was a personal friend of Eric Wedge’s and couldn’t teach streak hitters to be more consistant.
    3. The pitching coach started off the year attepmting to change how Carmona was pitching, which caused the problems with his delivery.
    4. Cliff Lee wanted to leave because he and Wedge disagreed on Lee’s performance. Lee wanted to finish games and Wedge was insistant on a setup man then closer. (roughly 10 games were lost for Lee by our relief pitchers.) He should never have been hired!!!
    The funny thing is I’ve talked to spotswriters for major publications, e.g. sporting news; and they seem to be aware of our internal problems, but can’t voice it past their editors… You’d think that our local newscasters would be better, but the sportswriters that I know here follow the same rules…
    Truth is the only reason we have teams is to round out the league… MLB, NBA, NFL…
    WE ARE THE LARGEST MARKET NATIONWIDE, not here in Cleveland, but there are many transplanted Clevelanders nationwide. There are resturants and pubs nationwide that broadcast Cleveland sporting events that rely on the business… And the networks hate it.
    Look at the Atlanta/Cleveland World Series touted as boring by the network affiliates who couldn’t wait till it was over, (Costas said that); it was the highest rated World Series… When Yankees and Mets played, they rammed it down your throat, lowest ratings ever… All I gotta say is think about it.

  5. Mike D. - Sep 30, 2009 at 5:13 PM

    Any discussion of the Indians should start and end with a look at the economy in Northeast Ohio. The fans expect perennial success, but the market will not sustain the kind of spending that builds championship teams. Watching Mark Shapiro try to put together a competitive roster each year (and succeed more often than not) is like watching that survivor guy on reality TV assemble a shelter in the wilderness. You marvel at how his ingenuity can conquer adversity, and you only wonder at what he could build if he had more than twigs and grass at his disposal.

  6. The Mathews Compound Bow - Jan 15, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    Hey, I stumbled upon your web site a few weeks ago and have read all the posts quietly. I decided I should make my firstpost. Not really sure what to write but anyway. Great site. Will visit in a while to hear what else you have to offer.

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