In the Fletch-Thoughts about Wedge

October 1, 2009

Alright, let the speculation begin. After seven mediocre seasons at the helm of the Cleveland Indians, Eric Wedge has been shown the door. This is a decision that comes of no surprise, but the big question of “what now?” looms large.
A quick look at the former coach’s line. He finished with 560 wins to 568 losses, a .496 winning percentage. Now, lets give some credit to the guy for leading the Tribe to a 93 and 69 record in 2005 that should have ended in the postseason except for a complete melt down by the players. As well as a 96 and 66 record in 2007 which was tied for best in all of baseball.
He ranks fifth all time in wins for the franchise, third in losses and fourth in total games managed. What killed him was the fact that his team finished one game from the World Series in 2007 and since then, they have gotten worse.
There is plenty to dislike about Wedge’s approach to the game. Mainly, his complete inability to “manage” a game. Strange to think he would be able to do that, but it is a tad important. He was, in my humble opinion, a terrible tactician. He pulled pitchers when they weren’t ready to com eout and had a tendancy to overuse and reuse inaffective players in order to get them to “break out of it”.
I am not a pro-baseball manager, GM what have you, but I know when a guy is ineffective and needs to be benched. Kelly Shoppach can’t hit a breaking ball. Period! He is a bad hitter and a bad catcher, but Wedge believed he was the answer behind the plate. Not so. Same goes with someone like Jhonny Peralta. When a guy sucks….he just sucks.
Now, some of the blame needs to fall at the feet of ownership and Mark Shapiro. This team is not going to compete with players out of the bargain bin. David Dalluci, Kerry Wood, Jason Michaels, Mark DeRosa, etc.
But can we blame him for the fire sale of the past two seasons? Yes, in a sense. The trade of CC was necessary. He was going to command big money and the Tribe wasn’t going to pay tha tout. They got a couple guys that are going to be on the club in 2010 in Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley, which is good. But the trade of Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez is directly connected with their inability to win. Why they haven’t tried to move Hafner or Peralta, don’t know, but watching those guys leave killed the heart of this city.
This team is now in rebuilding mode for the um-teenth time and again we will have to wait to see if any of this works out. Maybe someone like LaPorta will become a star and we can find a way to keep Grady healthy and here, but only time will tell. What I know is, we need a coach who can come in and immediately change the culture of the team and the franchise. A guy who knows the game, who has been around for awhile and knows every in and out there is. Wedge was lost half the time and the other half he was making it up. We need a guy like Girardi in New York or Francona in Boston. Those guys live this game and understand it.
Do I want a former ball player? Not necessarily. But I want someone who can steer these kids to becoming winners. Maybe Bobby Valentine would like to live in Bay Village. Whoever is here next season, they need to know that this city needs a winner and it needs one badly.


He’s Baaack…In the Fletch Returns to Glory

August 8, 2009

The Return! It’s been a very long time since I graced these hallowed pages. To start I want to once again congratulate my brother and friend, Jon, and his wife on the birth of their beautiful baby girl. (Thank God she looks like Sara). As a new father of a five-month old baby boy, I know that Jon and Sara are about to experience one of the greatest joys in life. Maddie is lucky to have such a great dad and I know that he will be great. P.S….Nap when you can, because she doesn’t care about your schedule AT ALL.

 Now on to the world of sports…as a devoted and sometimes ultra-critical fan of the Cleveland Indians I thought it would be wrong of me to not comment on the state of the team. WHAT THE HELL?!? I am a realistic fan, most of the time. I understand that there are times when a player is out-pricing themselves for their team, i.e. CC Sabathia. There was no way the Indians were going to be able to compete in the salary the Yankees were offering. He was going to get his 25 million and that was far too high a price for 99% of the league. However, when you hold a $9 million option on a Cy Young winner who has been the only positive in a terrible pitching staff, it’s hard to fathom the desperation shown by this front office to move him. First, they made the deal before it needed be done. If it was absolutely essential to move Cliff Lee, why not wait it out and make the Phillies sweat? They weren’t going to get Roy Halliday, because the Jays weren’t really that devoted to trading him. Yes, Roy Halliday is the best pitcher in the league and demands a huge price tag if traded, but unless the Phillies offered the prospects the Jays asked for, he wasn’t going anywhere. He wasn’t going to the Yankees or Red Sox, because…they are all in the same division and you just don’t do that. So, if you know (as the Genius Shaprio should have) that you hold the biggest pitching name on the block, make Philly overpay! They were desperate to add an arm and they weren’t going to give away talent for Jarrod Washburn or Ian Snell. Not getting JA Happ or Drabek in this deal was appalling.

Second, trading Victor when he was also sitting on a very reasonable option after this year was the dumbest move I have ever seen. The man cried for Pete’s sake! He wanted to stay here, because he was committed to this team. He liked playing here. He very well could have given us a hometown discount! But, then again, that would assume Mr. Dolan has any desire to spend his money. Granted, I think Justin Masterson is a good pitcher that will step into our rotation and pitch well. He’s a young talented kid who may develop into an ace. Notice I said MAY. What gets me the most with all this is the audacity of the front office to allude to this “cost cutting” as necessary because Dolan is worried about the gate receipts. GATE? If you want people to fill your “Insurance Sales Named Baseball Field” you have to put talent on it! I love going to JACOB’S FIELD to watch games in the summer. I was so excited to take Max (that’s my boy) to a game later this year for his first Tribe game, but I’ll be damned if I spend major league ticket prices and concessions to watch a field full of guys I’ve never heard of. Outside of Grady, Asdrubal and Jhonny…this is a minor league team. I’d rather spend half the money to see the Aeroes or Clippers or the Scrappers here in my backyard. If he wants more ticket sales, invest in the product. Cleveland isn’t Los Angeles. These people have limited income, work extremely hard for it and are hesitant to thrown money at such a poor product. The fans are there, Mr. Dolan. Witness the Cavaliers. Dan Gilbert is throwing around his Quicken Loans money likes its Monopoly money, and for it his team was one of the top grossing teams in the NBA. People pay to see LaBron, Shaq and 66 wins. People stay home to watch Tomo Ohka pitch a crappy game so they can turn it off in the 4th inning. This front office needs to be overhauled, the coach (who is the dumbest baseball mind in the game) and the owner needs to realize he has to spend to succeed and if he isn’t willing to do that, sell the team to someone who is. You can say all you want about the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers, but they spend more than anyone does else does, and make more than anyone else. Just think, two years ago we were one game away from the World Series.


Indians pitching staff

June 19, 2009

wahooAbsolutely disgust me…

http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/sortable_team_stats.jsp?c_id=mlb&baseballScope=mlb&statType=2&sitSplit=&timeSubFrame=2009&groupByTeam=true&Submit=Submit&timeFrame=1

Last in the league in ERA, leading the league in walks given up.  Hmm, me think’s that is a problem…


Grady Sizemore

June 3, 2009

I was reading today that Sizemore’s elbow might need to be scraped out if it doesn’t get better in the next few weeks with rest. That would mean 4-6 on the DL…Not good for Cleveland Indians fans.

www.clevelandindians.com– look for news here…


In the Fletch-Rant and Rave

November 25, 2008

In Fletch’s defense, the editor has been slacking and didn’t get this up in a timely fashion…More good stuff to come.

 

BROWNS

 

As I sat at work, daydreaming of a season that didn’t end with disappointment and more questions than answers, I heard something coming from the sports department that I have been expecting to hear for weeks. “Brady Quinn is getting the start”. That one simple sentence has a number of implications. First, as much as the CC trade symbolized a white flag for the Tribe…the Browns are beginning to extend their own white flag. They have, officially, not fallen out of anything at this point, but it would take the type of miracle that Clevelanders are just not used to. Second, it marks the beginning of an era. If all the hype and the belief in his talents are accurate, Brady Quinn will never relinquish his position. If he in fact is the future of this organization, Brady Quinn will be under center for the rest of his career…no more clipboards.

 

The third implication is one that I may be reaching on, but I truly feel this to be true. Romeo is fighting for his life. The man has made a million mistakes and in turning to offense over to Quinn may buy him more time. The Browns should be in the playoffs at the end of this season. That is bold, but it is true. They have talent all over the field and the gross mishandling of them falls on the bulldog-like head of Romeo Crannell. He is desperate and by removing DA…one year removed from being the “savior” of the team…he is trying to appease the media and the fans. My opinion…he will be a sought after coordinator come next August.

 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

           

I have done everything I can to keep myself occupied on Saturday afternoons this season. I have even gone as far as registering for baby stuff while my beloved Wolverines were on television. I can rant and rave about all the mistakes and injustices that have occurred in Ann Arbor, but I won’t. Because I have, for the first time in many many years, allowed myself to enjoy the game as a whole. I have stepped back from my team and enjoyed unbiased football viewing. In doing so, I have enjoyed the game because it is a great game, not because I was worried about the Wolverines standing or who they needed to beat.

           

I rarely sit and watch a non-Michigan Ohio State game. I have to lean on the fact that I hate OSU so much that I refuse to watch them and their “fans” rejoice in victory after victory. Makes me sick. But I did sit and watch most of the Penn State v. Ohio State game a few weeks ago, and I loved it. The ending was the icing on the crapcake of the season. But I have to feel sorry for the guys in blue and white, because even though they beat the Buckeyes, it is the Buckeyes that will keep them out of the National Title game. Why? Because the Big Ten is considered weak. Due to the way the Buckeyes have been beat in the past two championship games it would take a two loss SEC team to put the Lions in the title game, and even then it would be close.

           

However, I would have to put that PSU v. OSU game as the second best game I’ve seen this year. To no one’s surprise the Texas Tech and Texas game this past Saturday was the best ending I have seen since the LSU v. Kentucky game of 2003. I have a tendency to root for the underdog in those types of games. I have nothing against the Horns, but I always seem to root for the guy that isn’t expected to win. The poise and the play of that Raider team was incredible and I was left speechless by the conclusion.

           

I doubt that Tech will make it through all the way to the National Championship game, because they have a brutal schedule to finish the season, but it is great to see a program like that stepping up and making a name for themselves. It put to rest the idea that the Red Raiders are a pass all over the field, shoot out type team. They played a complete game on both sides of the ball and showed that they are (at least this season) one of the best teams in the country.

 

           

INDIANS

           

Come on…you didn’t think I was going to write an entire piece without mentioning the Tribe? I have nothing to rail on and on about. But I want to take a second to mention the free agents (or additions) that I feel could be a great fit for this team. The first name on my list is Adam Dunn. For the first time I read another Cleveland writer agree with that. Dunn has flaws and with teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Mets and Cubs focusing on names like Sabathia, Texiarra, Peavy (maybe), Ramirez, etc…a guy like Dunn won’t be commanding a huge payday. He is only 29 and plays left field pretty well. Put him in the shallow left field at the Jake and he is an above average outfielder. What makes him a great fit…he hits the ball. We don’t know if Hafner will ever hit again, and a guy like Dunn is a natural 3 or 4 guy in a lineup. You can chalk in at least 30 homeruns, and that is low-balling it. Plus, he is the low key, no flash type of player that Wedge works well with.

           

Next, Bob Howry. He is familiar with everything Cleveland. He played here and was the best reliever the team had. He is a little older now, which financially gives the team more flexibility to sign him to a short contract. He is a veteran (which this team needs badly) and he gets outs. However, EVERYONE in the league needs relievers and he may become expensive as the winter plays out.

           

Third, make a trade for Houston Street. He is still a very young man who has shown he can be a very good closer. He plays for a bad team and his chances to finish games dwindle in June every year because his starters get traded. He has good stuff and given a chance to play for a contender would make him one of the better closers in the league. We have more prospects than we have teams to play them, which makes a trade very very possible.


In The Fletch-Remembering Herb Score

November 14, 2008

I know that I have a tendency to write about the Cleveland Indians more than anything else does, but I feel it is important to take a minute to note that the Indians family lost one of their greatest members of all time. Indians great, Herb Score, passed away Tuesday, Nov. 11 in Rocky River at the age of 75.

 

Score was known as one of the best pitchers of his day, until a line drive hit him in the face in May 1957…his third year in the league. Score was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1955 and led the league in strikeouts in both 1955 and 1956.  Teammate and Hall-of-Famer, Bob Feller, remembered Score on Tuesday. “He would have been probably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, left-handed pitchers who ever lived.” He continued, “Herb Score had just as good a curveball as [Sandy] Koufax and a better fastball.” High praise from one of the game’s greatest.

 

Score never was able to realize his potential, but it was what he did in his later years that younger generations, such as myself, remember fondly. For over 30 years, Score was the voice of the Indians. “The only thing people could rely on here from year-to-year was that Herb would be there.” Said Tom Hamilton, who partnered with Score during the 1990’s.

 

That is what I remember of Score. My father and I would spend hours during the summer, sitting in front of the television watching the Indians lose much more than they won. I didn’t understand at the time, but my father liked to watch the game with the sound down, and he would turn on the radio to listen to Score, whose love of the game and his team was apparent, every night, no matter how badly the team played.

 

It was Score who stepped outside of his even and calm broadcast when the Indians clinched Game 6 of the 1995 ALCS against the Orioles sending them to the World Series for the first time since 1954…a year before Score’s rookie season.

 

What I remember of Score was the last game he called. Game 7 of the 1997 World Series was building into the end of a great storybook. Score has been in the broadcast booth for the team he loved for 34 years, and was going to walk away at the end of the season. The Indians were poised and ready to take home the World Series trophy when a bit of bad luck struck the team again. As the Marlins celebrated their first championship in team history, Score calmly and graciously walked away from the game for the last time.

 

Although his playing career faded and ended before he had a chance to show his true greatness, Score was able to preach the greatness of the game to thousands of young fans all across Northeastern Ohio. Simple moments of families sitting together on warm summer evenings listening to Score. I remember spending many of those evening in the backyard, pretending to be a ball-player, while I listened to Score’s play-by-play on my battery powered radio.

His health had diminished over the past few years, suffering a debilitating stroke in 2002, and he never returned to the broadcast booth after he signed off in 1997. But his impact on the game and the team that he loved will never be forgotten. The only way I can think of ending this is to print the last words many of us heard Herb Score speak. I will always remember hearing these words as I hid my face in my hands and cried,

           

“Line drive, base hit, the game is over.”

“And so that is the season for 1997, and there’s very little else we can say except to tell you it’s been a pleasure. I would like to thank all the fans for their kindness over the years. You’ve been very good to me. And we hope that whoever sits in this chair next, you’ll be as kind to them as you have been to me.”


Fletch looks back at season, and his predictions

September 30, 2008

The 2008 MLB Season (A look back)

               

As the regular season comes to a close, I took a moment to look back at one of the first things I wrote for this fine blog. I thought I’d show off my ability of prognostication and tell everyone just how the season would go. I, as I’ve been told a million times, am a complete moron. First, a quick look at my standings as they were to stand at the end of the season.

 

AL EAST (X denotes a playoff team)                                                              

X – Boston            94            68                                                                           

NY Yankees          85            77                                           

Toronto                 85            77                                           

Tampa Bay            75            87                                           

Baltimore               1              161                                         

 

AL CENTRAL                                                                     

X – Cleveland       98            64                                           

X – Detroit             97            65                                           

Chi Sox                   80            82                                           

Minnesota             75            87                                           

Kansas City          70            92                                           

 

AL WEST

X – LA Angels     100          62

Seattle                    88            74

Texas                      70            92           

Oakland                 63            99

                                                                               

NL EAST

X – NY METS       95            72

Philedelphia          88            74

Atlanta                   85            77

Washington          80            82

Florida                    72            90

 

NL CENTRAL

X – Chi Cubs        90            72

X – Cincinnati       88            74

Milwaukee             80            82

St. Louis                70            92

Houston                68            94

Pittsburgh             0              162

 

NL WEST                                                                                             

X – Arizona            95            67

San Diego              87            75

LA Dodgers          85            77

Colorado                80            82

San Francisco       75            87

 

               

 I’ll start with the AL East and say that if anyone out there expected the Rays to come together this season and do what they are doing, I applaud your vision. The Rays have gelled, in part because they have one of the best managers in the game, and also because they are stock piled with talent. That many high draft picks HAS to work out eventually. Evan Longoria has become a top tier 3B and will be an All-Star for many years to come. The pitching has been outstanding, and they showed that they are a mature team when team leader Carl Crawford went down for the season. I also have to toot my own horn, because I didn’t buy into the Yankee hype. They have to lose the rest of their games to have the record I predicted, but an October without the Yankees is a great thing. Lastly, I have to apologize to THE fan in Baltimore. I underestimated the talent on that team. They still finished in the basement, but they have legitimate ball players on that team, and they played teams a lot tougher than expected.

               

Let’s just skim through the AL Central…the Tribe imploded…the Tigers couldn’t pitch…the Sox are playing like they should have been the past 3 years…the Twins are a complete surprise…and the Royals still really really stink.

               

 Now the AL West, the Angels are the best team in baseball. They have good pitching and good hitting. The July trade for Mark Texierra made them a force at the plate. They are the only team in the league that has a legitimate shot at breaking 100 wins and are my pick to win the whole thing. My next pick was…well…a total miscalculation of a real dump of a team. The Mariners are TERRIBLE. They may not win 60 games this year. They couldn’t hit…couldn’t pitch…couldn’t do anything well. As for the other teams, they did what you expected. The A’s sold off their top players and the Rangers were fun to watch, but couldn’t put it all together. I did, however, become a Josh Hamilton fan.

             

To the NL East and the yearly collapse of the Mets, they are still in the hunt for the pennant, but they have the worst bullpen in all of baseball, including AA and AAA. The Phillies are again surging for the pennant as they should with that much offensive power. The surpirse to me is Florida. Is there ever a time when this team isn’t winning? They get rid of their best players and they just replace them with more talent. This team, if they can solidify some pitching will be very tough to beat next yearr. As for the Braves and Nationals…they aren’t good….period!

               

 The NL Central has been a one horse race all season. The Cubs are the best team in that mess, but the late season struggles should worry everyone in the Windy City. I overplayed my hand with the Reds, hoping that they got it together. Instead, they traded away Griffey to the White Sox and Adam Dunn to the Diamondbacks. They look to be rebuilding again, but have a couple real talented young arms in their rotation, but my 88 wins is laughable. The Brewers have been much better than I expected, and partly due to their acquisition of CC Sabathia. They are fading a bit, and not because of Ned Yost, but they have played extremely well this season. I don’t think highly of this division, but everyone has been competitive. Okay, not the Pirates, but who expects them to be? They unloaded their best players and seem to enjoy losing in an beautiful empty stadium.

               

The NL West was last year’s darling division. It was so competitive and so wide open. This year…ehh. The Dodgers have become a playoff team with the addition of former Indians, including Manny Ramirez. My belief that they finish with 85 wins is very doable, but the rest of the division is so poor, that will win it. The Diamondbacks have fallen apart in recent weeks, and if it weren’t for Brandon Webb, they would be totally out of it. They are tettering at .500, and that is the best they can do. The Padres stink, the Rockies where a flash in the pan, and the Giants did what everyone figured they would.

               

I predicted that the Indians would beat the Red Sox in the ALDS and then beat the Angels in the ALCS. The Angels would have beaten the Tigers. In the NL, the Diamondbacks would beat the Reds in the NLDS and the Mets in the NLCS. The Mets beat the Cubs in their NLDS. In my fantasy World Series, the Indians outplayed and outlasted the Diamondbacks for their first Championship in 60 years. No dice!

 

               

So, I’m going to take this last opportunity to make predictions. These are the guys that I have picked as the award winners for this season. I can’t believe the year went this quick, but that just mean we are getting closer to the 2009 Opening Day.

 

 MY PICKS

AL MVP: Francisco Rodriguez, LA Angels. (Call me crazy, but it’s only been 16 years since Eck did it).

NL MVP: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals. (How long before he wants out?)

AL Cy Young: Cliff Lee, Cleveland Indians. (He deserves it! A year for the history books)

NL Cy Young: Brandon Webb, Arizona Diamondbacks. (Sorry CC, you had to be perfect to get it)

AL Rookie of the Year: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay. (An immediate Super Star).

NL Rookie of the Year: Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs. (Fukodome’s collapse opens door for teammate.)

AL Comeback Kid: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers. (What he’s overcome is truly amazing)

NL Comeback Kid: Lance Berkman, Houston Astros. (Catalyst to surprising Astros club).

AL Breakout Player: Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox. (Throw away player becomes All Star)

NL Breakout Player: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants. (Will have a Cy Young in next five years.)