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Wedge & Associates

Wedge & Associates
I don't blame Eric Wedge for everything that is wrong with the Indians . I don't even blame the Indians' manager for much of what is wrong with the team that took the field Thursday night against Tampa Bay with a 13-22 record, worst in the American League.

But I do blame Wedge for some things, like David Dellucci. Not for signing Dellucci to a three-year contract. That was the front office's brainstorm. But I do blame Wedge for trying and trying and trying to squeeze something out of the brittle veteran over the past three years. I also blame Wedge for sitting rookie Matt LaPorta for four games last weekend, often turning to Dellucci instead.

I blame Wedge because Dellucci was 6-for-9 in his first two games off the disabled list, and is 2-for-24 since. He's back to a .242 batting average, fitting right in with the .238 and .230 the previous two years. I do blame the front office for not cutting Dellucci after last season, writing off the final year of the contract.

I don't blame Wedge for Masa Kobayashi. He is not scouting Asian teams. He didn't give Kobayashi a two-year, $6 million deal. If they cut Kobayashi yesterday, that would be fine with the manager. It was a bad call on the part of the front office, just like signing Jason Michaels a few years ago.

I do blame Wedge for sticking too long with Dellucci/Michaels over Ben Francisco, but now I blame Francisco for not taking advantage of the left-field job Wedge handed him. In fact, all of this begs for more time for LaPorta in left field.

I don't blame Wedge for the struggles of Jeremy Sowers (51 Tribe starts, 5.36 ERA, 41 homers in 286 innings). Nor do I blame Wedge because Sowers looks like another failure as a first-round pick. Consider that since 1994, the Indians have had only two first-round picks make an impact - Jaret Wright (1994) and CC Sabathia (1998).

I don't blame Wedge for taking players such as Michael Aubrey, Brad Snyder, Corey Smith, Matt Whitney, Dan Denham, Adam Miller, J.D. Martin and Corey Smith in the first round from 1999-2005. I'm not sure who to blame for giving up on first-rounder Jeremy Guthrie (19-20, 3.80 ERA for Baltimore since 2007) too soon. But someone did, and the Indians could use Guthrie in the rotation.

I don't blame Wedge for Grady Sizemore's slump, but I do fault the manager for keeping him at the top of the lineup when it has been obvious for a few years that Sizemore is evolving into a power hitter.

I do blame Wedge for making excuses about his team's excessive strikeouts. He knows they are damaging with runners on base, and it's odd how a team that stresses seeing a lot of pitches and getting ahead in the count tends to dismiss the strikeout issue.

I don't fault Wedge for the team not stealing more bases. Sizemore has been thrown out on six of 11 steal attempts. Other than Shin-Soo Choo, and possibly Asdrubal Cabrera, where is the speed on the roster? It is the front office that does the drafting, trading, signing and has the major say in assembling the final roster.

Nor do I fault Wedge for Jhonny Peralta having yet another lousy start, and for Peralta (yet again) admitting it's because he's trying to pull the ball too often. They have told Peralta that a thousand times over the years. I do wonder why Wedge hasn't made more of an issue of moving Peralta from shortstop, where his defense is below average - no matter how the Indians try to explain it.

I do blame Wedge for at least some of five losing April records the past seven years, but I'm not sure what he's doing wrong. I also know the front office has to take part of the rap for handing the manager the likes of Jason Johnson, Dellucci, Michaels and other veteran experiments. Some of the strong performances after the All-Star break came when the front office dipped into the farm system and brought up prospects, replacing veterans who had flopped.

I do blame Wedge only partly for the trade of Brandon Phillips. But they could have insisted Wedge wait on Phillips for a while, There was no rush to have Ramon Vazquez. In the end, Phillips being virtually handed to the Reds is the front office's fault.

I don't fault Wedge (or even the front office) for some of the veteran stars being traded off. That's a result of ownership and budgets.

I do fault Wedge and his coaches for Raffy Betancourt, Jensen Lewis and Raffy Perez all having terrible starts in the bullpen. It seemed one of them could have been fixed faster. Of late, Lewis and Betancourt are coming around. Perez is in the minors.

I also fault Wedge for pitching Tony Sipp twice in about 18 hours when the Indians knew that he was coming off arm surgery and was not supposed to be used in back-to-back games.

I do fault Wedge for a few innings this year when he went through three to four relievers, seemingly not sure of what he wanted to do. And I do wonder why the coaching staff can't help Fausto Carmona with his mechanics and control.

I do fault Wedge for some other things, too. But not enough to fire him in the middle of the season, especially when there seems to be no long-term replacement available. Firing the manager for the "new voice, any voice" rarely works when it's an interim who takes over.

Yes, I do blame Wedge for some of what has gone wrong with the Tribe - but not nearly enough to excuse some of the front office's poor moves that have as much to do with the Indians' slow start as the manager.

To reach Terry Pluto:, 216-999-4674

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Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 16, 2009

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