Tuesday, May 30, 2006


That's where you have to look in the AL fielding standings to find the Tribe. Our starting pitchers have been nothing to brag about, but boy the fielders haven't helped. Victor Martinez committed the Tribe's league-leading 39th error today. That number doesn't count missed double plays, balls dropping between fielders, and the utter incompetence of the pitchers and Victor in controlling the running game. The Tribe's still scoring a bunch of runs each game, but as long as they keep giving up extra at-bats, they're gonna keep losing.

The good news is that they squeaked by the Sox tonight 4-3 thanks to Carsten Charles. He pitched a hell of a game. The other good news is that while his pitches were diving straight over the plate, his hat was crooked on his head as usual. Jhonny Peralta(who should be playing 2B or 3B) hit a big fly that plated two, and no one screwed up so much that it cost runs.

Earlier in the day, Mark Shapiro deflected criticism from Wedgie and made statements that, on the surface, appeared to support him. Hopefully, that's the usual GM double speak they use whenever they start looking around for another manager. Wedge is a problem. He and his coaches aren't getting results. They don't appear to get too upset with crappy play, idiotic baserunning, or poor pitching decisions. Wedge keeps running out the same guys no matter what they did the prior night. Moreover, Brandon Phillips is not here solely due to Wedge's inability to deal with him.

It made no sense to trade Phillips, at age 24, for a big fat nothing. Remember, Phillips was the lynchpin to the Colon deal. He was the guy baseball people compared to Jeter and Tejada. He happens to be hitting .309 for the Reds. He's also playing excellent defense at 2B and is 10 for 10 in stolen bases. Don't forget that the Tribe traded Phillips to keep Ramon Vazquez. That's Ramon friggin' Vazquez folks. He's the least feared hitter in all of baseball. Or, I should say, he was the least feared hitter in all of baseball. Now, he's back where he belongs---AAA. The funny thing is that no one believed Vazquez was better than Phillips. So, why did the Tribe trade him? Why not keep a 24 year old talented guy who was way above average defensively and who only needed to work on his hitting rather than a big league bum?

I can't think it was motivated by Shapiro. There was no upside for him to do it. When sitting around with all the other GM's, he'd have liked nothing better than to be able to say that, in his signature deal, he got a stud centerfielder (Grady), a very good left-handed starter (Lee), and his starting shortstop/second baseman for the next 10 years. Shapiro's too good at talent evaluation to think Vazquez was anything other than a bum or that he could develop into anything other than an older bum. Don't tell me it was his defense. Phillips was and is better defensively. Shoot, Johnny McDonald was 10 times the player Ramon friggin' Vazquez ever could be. Phillips was nowhere close to arbitration or free agency. That means that money wasn't a problem. So, Shapiro utterly lacked any motivation to trade the guy.

That leaves Wedge. Wedge already demonstrated that he couldn't or wouldn't deal with a talented head case in Milton Bradley. But, Bradley's an extreme example. He was a bit of a lunatic. He had been that way even when he was in the minors. Every analysis of Bradley as a player ended with something like, "the only thing that can hold Milton Bradley back is his mental make-up/emotional development/lack of maturity...." You get the picture.
The difference is that no one said that about Phillips. People said he was "cocky," that he exuded "supreme confidence," and that his demeanor bordered upon "arrogance." So what? So he was a cocky horse's ass who was playing great defensive ss at Buffalo. Big deal!

My personal theory is that Wedge couldn't deal with him. I don't know if Wedge is thin-skinned or lacks self-esteem (he is, after all, a lifetime .233 hitter in 86 major league at bats), but something soured the manager on Brandon Phillips.

1 comment:

Hornless Rhino said...

This morning's Canton Repository has the party line on the Tribe's troubles from Wedge and Shapiro.