Who’s the scapegoat?
Those are the two questions surrounding the Seattle Mariners right now. While the front office stays quiet, the fans are grumbling louder and louder with every passing game in this dismal 2012 season.
Something needs to be done and be done immediately to save this franchise. While many people point fingers and assign blame, it is becoming increasing obvious that everyone is fed up with this season.
Who do you blame for a poor year, though? Do you blame ownership, management, or the players?
There are plenty of places you could point your finger of blame, but is Eric Wedge the one deserving of that blame?
Many think so.
I do not.
Let me tell you why.
Many professional managers nowadays have little to no playing experience in their respective sport. That sentiment does not hold true with Eric Wedge. Wedge, an ex-catcher knows how baseball works, inside and out.
Students of the game make the best managers because they know the intricacies of the game. They know how things in the clubhouse work and how certain situations play out with volatile players or situations.
Wedge’s years as a player have prepared him to be a good manager.
Wedge managed the Cleveland Indians from 2003-2009. While the Indians are widely known as a losing franchise, Wedge was able to secretly turn things around in Cleveland before coming to Seattle.
While he may have been let go after a dismal last season with the Indians, Wedge managed to win the MLB AL Manager of the Year and Sporting News Manager of the Year.
He led the Indians to the ALCS and lost in 7 games to the eventual champs Boston Red Sox.
What strikes me most about his time in Cleveland is how they’re doing now. After laying the foundation for the Indians before his departure, they are now succeeding with the young, talented guys they stockpiled while Wedge was at the helm.
While many think he is too laid back, Eric Wedge has the perfect style to manage this Seattle Mariners team. While he is lax at times, he is also all about accountability.
Basically…if you’re doing your job, he leaves you alone. If you’re not doing your job, he will let you know. And he will act accordingly.
Figgins’ productivity flat-lined and Wedge sat him on the bench. Figgins has been relegated to bench warming and pinch hitting since.
And amidst several injuries plaguing this Mariners roster, Wedge has found inventive ways to work in the youngsters of the franchise.
We fans knock Mariners ownership each and every day. While Eric Wedge stays silent in public, he would be crazy to not question the moves that the front office are making…or not making.
One of my favorite qualities of Eric Wedge is his fearlessness. By that, I mean he isn’t necessarily bowing to ownership like managers of the past. He is not a “Yes” guy and is doing this by the beat of his own drum.
The best example this season is how the Ichiro situation was handled. With the team being mainly owned by a Japanese magnate who is from Nintendo, words trickled down throughout the years that Ichiro is untouchable and the main attraction in Seattle.
Ichiro has brought much attention and lots of tourist money to the team and to the city. While Ichiro’s numbers have slowly declined, Wedge made his own call on how to handle the lack of production Seattle is used to seeing from Ichiro.
Shaking things up, Wedge tried moving Ichiro around in the lineup to spark extra production from him and others.
Whether Ichiro was actually ok with it or not (we were all told he was), Wedge is done playing.
That last point brings me to this…Eric Wedge is unrelenting. While we sit here and criticize his lineups and personnel moves, what many people are missing is that he is not giving up.
Past managers would just leave the lineup the same every night. And every night it would stink up the field and lose.
And then the manager would be fired within a season or two.
Wedge has gone the opposite direction. He has moved the pieces around in the lineup to try and get the best production possible.
The fact that he has not given up on this team thus far should be a godsend for fans who truly care about this franchise.
To see someone care enough to go to the great lengths to make things work as Wedge has is refreshing.
When management decides to spend some money on a player or two to help spark this lineup, hell may have frozen over. While Wedge is furiously working to make things work, management is sitting back, disinterested.
Eric Wedge is clearly not the enemy. Point that finger at ownership.