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Wedge or No Wedge: Cleveland Indians 2010 and Beyond

By Michael Kohler

As the nightmare season of 2009 continues its torturous plight many fans have increased their displeasure with manager Eric Wedge. Whether it is justified or not many fans want Wedge gone to ensure a better product on the field for next year. While the manager is certainly important so are the players he has to manage. All one has to do is look at this years bullpen to know that sometimes it doesn’t matter who the manager puts in- the results are the same. The 2009 version of the Cleveland Indians is quickly reaching a crossroads that none of us wanted to see: do they retool for another run next year or is it time to tear down and rebuild for 2011 and beyond?

The answer lies in how Mark Shapiro views his minor league system. Thanks to last years trades of CC Sabathia and Casey Blake the Indians minor league system SHOULD be a position of strength right now. Having said that, the real question is how soon the likes of Santana, LaPorta, Brantley and Rondon will contribute. If they can be ready by next year then perhaps we are only in store for a retool. In this case you keep Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee around as a veteran leadership to teach the kids about the grind of a Major League season.

However, if it is thought they won’t be ready to contribute until 2011 or later then the Indians must seriously consider moving Martinez, Lee and possibly even Wood. There’s no need to have a top notch closer on a rebuilding team, especially at 10 million plus per year. The Indians do have a need for front of the line starters with only Rondon on the horizon. The value of Lee and Martinez are particularly high right now due to their contract situations. If the Indians can add 2 or 3 potential front of the rotation pitchers and some other pieces that would aid huge in 2011 scenario.

The speed of which the Indians top prospects develop and can be expected to contribute will be key in deciding how the rest of the 2009 campaign will unfold. Wedge or no Wedge; it’s a moot point when thinking about the Indians roster for 2010 and beyond.