The Indians have informed Eric Wedge that he willl not return as manager next season. His entire coaching staff is also being released, although one or more may be re-hired by the next manager. Wedge and the coaches will finish out the season in Boston this weekend.
Wedge has a career record of 560–568 and is the fifth longest-tenured manager in major league baseball. Clint Hurdle, who previously held the fifth slot, was fired earlier this year by the Rockies. The Indians opened the season 14–26 and more recently went through a 3–20 stretch.
Shapiro's comments from today's 1:30 p.m. press conference, courtesy of woodsmeister [followed by my comments]:
- Next manager strong voice in determining staff, so staff will not be back. [Pretty standard move.]
- Wedge “epitome of team player”, “exemplary leader.” [I don't doubt this, but that doesn't mean he created an environment conducive to winning or got the most out of each player.]
- On why – “accountability lies across the organization.” This starts with Shapiro, extends to operations staff and players. “As we examined everything … we felt this was the right time to make a change on Eric … Arrived at decision collectively that this was the right time for a change.” [Of course, we likely won't ever know who really wanted what, among Shapiro, Antonetti, and the Dolans.]
“My reluctance is more related to my emotions, and my underlying respect for Eric.”
“Any time there is change, there is an opportunity, and we have to seize the opportunity.” [Another management fortune cookie.]
- “I was hopeful that this wasn’t going to come. I was hopeful that there would be an opportunity to create a more positive environment for him to continue here.” [Coming close to saying this is a PR firing only, but maybe "positive environment" refers to the clubhouse as much as the public perception.]
- “From the time we’d made the decision, Eric’s known.” [He clearly knew when Castro posted that last Q&A.]
- On why fans Ohio don’t like Wedge — “He’s consistent. This is an entertainment business and maybe he’s not flamboyant enough.” [Maybe. Or maybe it's all the losing. How many managers are actually popular?]
- “The goal would be to build a team that never dips too far down, that has opportunities to contend and play in the postseason as regularly as possible. I think the goal does evolve as the game evolves, and as the terrain evolves. I would hope we never go through a prolonged losing period and have consistent windows to contend.” [In a way, this was Wedge's downfall. The 2006 and 2008 clubs posted mediocre records but not out-and-out disasters. This was his first truly bad club.]
- On Wedge -“He’s very consistent with the values of Northeast Ohio. He’s a blue collar worker, hard-nosed guy, extremely honest. Extremely consistent. In the end, maybe why, this isn’t entertainment, it’s business. Maybe he wasn’t flamboyant enough, kept his feelings internal. Fans want to see those, on the shirtsleeve, they want to feel the frustration, they want to feel the emotion, and Eric, to protect the players, didn’t often do that.” [Yet he still dimed out Peralta repeatedly.]
- “There were tough times, when he and I bumped heads.” [Wouldn't we love to know what those were, other than cutting loose Brandon Phillips.]
And now comments from Wedge:
- It was his decision to stick around the last few games. “I’d still want to finish what we started here. It would be the right thing for the players. One thing we’ve always done here is to put the players first.”
- “I think it’s how you finish, not how you start.” [Unintentional humor here? Maybe if he thought it was "how you start," we wouldn't have started terribly almost every year of his tenure.]
- “I’m the manager of the team. It’s my job to go out and win ballgames. You know, there's not an asterisk after that saying, it's only if you have this, that or the other. I’m a big believer in being accountable for what I do. I preach that to the players, it's the way I live my life.”
- On managing a mid-market team – “It’s more challenging but it’s also more rewarding. What we came so close to doing in 07 is pretty special stuff. One thing about the Dolans – they’ve always allowed Mark and me as leaders of this organization to do what we think is best for this team.” [He hints here at an organizational issue, i.e., the manager as somewhat co-equal to the GM.]
- Hasn’t given much thought to what’s next. Concerned about “finishing this thing off the right way.”
- “As a manager, you have to work off the players you have. That dictates how you manage. It’s my job to work off that and win as many games as possible.”
- “I was here in the beginning, I understand really rebuilding, starting from scratch. This is not that situation here in Cleveland. You need to understand that, fans need to understand that. You have a solid organization, a solid minor league system. You have a process that works, here in this market. So they’re going to be fine. You have to work off the market, the economy, what you’re able to do here. You have some young, talented baseball players that are learning every day."
- "It's been a long run here, I guess as managers go. I've got a great deal of respect for the city of Cleveland and Tribe fans all over the place, and I'm a big believer in wearing the uniform with pride."