Mark Shapiro almost rewarded Eric Wedge with a contract after last season, and during spring training, but I think he probably feared the backlash after the egg the Indians laid last year. Oh well, his explanation works for me:
`Eric has maximized the talent in this organization to sustain a level of success, and doing this demonstrates a certain consistency. We've retained our core players, and Eric is a core part of the team. I just think it's the right thing to do to maximize the positive environment.''
A lot of detractors (especially on WKNR yesterday) pointed out the reasons he shouldn't. One basically challenged Mark "Munch" Bishop (who I kind of liked as the Clear Channel sports guy, and kind of can't stand on a call-in show) to tell him another current manager who has been around 5 years without bringing his team to the playoffs. Munch couldn't even wager a guess, but I found that Clint Hurdle and Ned Yost are the other two. But this argument doesn't hold water. Wedge took over a scorched Earth group of young players and players who, well, didn't exactly raise memories of the '95 squad. He has led a group of young players to consistent improvement, and many of them came up with him in the minors. In 2005 they famously tanked (remember the title of this blog) in the last week of the season, however they furiously came back on the fluky White Sox for two months before that.
Last year's rotten egg nonwithstanding, I disagree with the critics of his managerial style. A famous quote from Casey Stengel (I think) said something like "Managing is getting paid for home runs that someone else hits." Many look at him as the best manager due to his Yankees' success, but remember his stint as the Mets' manager. Who's the best manager now? Jim Leyland? Sure he won a World Series last decade I think (but I think I skipped watching it that year), and is doing a fine job with the Tigers, but his only Pirates success came with a skinny Barry Bonds, and those 1998 Marlins sure were awesome, weren't they?
Give Wedge a chance, at least he's not putting Carmona out there for 130 pitches every night. And who knows, he might grow the mustache back.