Eric Wedge: dead man walking

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It’s not a feeding frenzy yet, but blood is definitely in the water in Cleveland:

The fate of manager Eric Wedge is in the hands of owner Larry and
team president Paul Dolan. If they say he’s gone, he’s gone . . . When
asked if he was considering a change, Larry Dolan said, “I’ll talk to
you later.” When asked if that meant a change was being considered,
Dolan said, “I just don’t want to lie to you.”

Since then Paul Dolan said that nothing was imminent, and GM Mark
Shapiro says he thinks that Wedge should keep his job. As the article
says, though, it’s probably not Shapiro’s call.

I’m not one of those guys who thinks that firing a manager is
necessarily the best solution — in fact it rarely is — but I can’t
say I see any benefit to keeping Eric Wedge around. His defenders will
cite all of the injuries the Indians have suffered, but (a) they were
playing poorly right of the gate this season; and (b) even if they
weren’t, injuries are a fact of life in baseball that just have to be
overcome. Except Cleveland never overcomes them, and at some point
someone has to be held responsible for that. Maybe that’s Mark Shapiro
for not supplying the kind of depth an otherwise talented team needs in
order to work through this stuff. There’s an order in which these
things tend to proceed, however, and that usually involves the manager
getting axed first.

Not that we’d be talking epic unfairness if Wedge were to get
canned. He has has had seven years to make something work with this
team, and with one near-magical exception, it hasn’t worked. Better
managers than Eric Wedge have been let go after compiling shorter and
less disappointing records. When you add in the observation by the great Terry Pluto
that Wedge just looks lost and beat and demoralized these days, one
can’t help but think that a change would do both him and the Indians
some good.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.