Wedged Between A Rock And A Hard Spot
Being a manager in the Major Leagues is definitely a tough job. One has to manage fan expectations, front office expectations, and player expectations, all the while trying to field a winning product every day. Managers are often the first to blame when a team is losing and seldom get the credit they deserve when the team is winning. So, Eric Wedge already finds himself in a tough situation. The question is: should he be fired? Here are the pros and cons of the argument and I’ll let you make the decision yourself.
Pros to firing Wedge: The Mariners record in one run games is currently 11-13. They are 5-6 in extra innings. Out of the 81 games they have played at the halfway point in the season, nearly a third of them have been decided by one run. This is an area where a Manager can have a lot of sway. Wedge plays a very American League style of baseball. He gets runners on and then sits around and waits for a three run home run. This is working a bit as the Mariners are in the top five in home runs this year, but you also have to be willing and able to play small ball when the situation calls for it. When there’s a runner on 2nd with nobody out and the team is down by one, why not bunt the guy over? Why not put the game in motion and do a hit and run or have guys steal some more bases?
Also, his handling of the bullpen has been atrocious. True, he has not had much to work with, but this year in particular I have noticed he is very slow to make a pitching change, often waiting one batter too long to do so. Sometimes it appears as if he hangs with his guy too long, when it’s obvious to even a casual fan that his guy doesn’t have his best stuff.
Perhaps the biggest argument that can be made for the removal of Eric Wedge, however, is in the attitude he brings to the ballpark every day. He is a very laid-back manager. Rarely do fans see him get fired up about anything - including losing. As a fan, I want to see him have the same passion I have when the team loses. I want to see him go into a press conference and tell us how he really feels instead of feeding us a bunch of tired clichés. How many times can you say you just gotta tip your hat to their pitcher today before realizing that perhaps the blame falls squarely on your shoulders? When was the last time we saw Wedge go out and chew out an umpire, just to get his team fired up? Wedge’s style of baseball is often called hard-nosed, but this, in my opinion, is one of the softest teams in the league. Where’s the edge to Wedge? Where is that spitfireness that players can get behind? We don’t see that.
Cons to firing Wedge: How much control does the Manager of a Major League ball club really have over his team? These are professional athletes who know their game better than anyone else. The manager is not the one out there playing, and if he is given players who don’t have much talent, there’s only so much he can do. The old expression is pretty accurate that you can’t get blood out of a turnip. These players just might not be good enough to win ball games. That is not Wedge’s fault. If anyone, that is the General Manager (Jack Zdurienciks) fault. Should Wedge be fired for another person’s faults? Also, Wedge has proven himself a good manager in the past. He took over a Cleveland Indians team, very much like the Mariners, who finished the 2003 season (Wedges first with them) 68-94. Within four years, that team was a competitor, finishing the 2007 seasons at just about the inverse of that (96-66). They won the division that year and came within one game of the World Series. Wedge received the American League Manager of the year that year. This is only Wedge’s third season with the Mariners. Have we given him enough time to get this thing turned around?
The guy knows how to manage baseball, he’s a great guy, treats everyone around him with respect, but is he the right fit for this team right now or should the team part ways? Like I said, that’s for you to decide! I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, however. Hit me up on twitter @Rainshivers or comment back here!
Shane Rivers, Mariners and Seahawks correspondent for KMAS. Talking all thing sports related (and sometimes non-sports)