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Monday, April 18, 2011

Eric Wedge, Manager, Transitional Period - Then

  • This post covers Eric Wedge's managerial days. A post on his playing days came earlier:Eric Wedge, Liked It
Eric Wedge's rise in the minors had been quick. It was 1998 when he got his first managerial job with the Indians, at single-A Columbus. That was after a decade as a player.

By 2001, he was managing at AAA Buffalo. By 2003, barely five seasons retiring as a player, the 34-year-old Wedge found himself managing in the major leagues, in Cleveland.

"The last couple years in Triple-A were invaluable for me," Wedge told reporters after becoming the Indians manager. "I'm comfortable at a higher level. I'm very comfortable with a leadership role. I hope to lead this organizational through the transitional period."

Wedge went on to lead the Indians for seven seasons. In one of them, helped lead them to one win short of the World Series. Disappointing seasons later, however, led to that tenure ending, moving on to manage the Mariners for 2011.

Wedge entered the managerial ranks after a nine-season professional playing career, with brief time spent in the majors in four seasons.

That first season as the Indians manager, Wedge oversaw a 68-94 campaign. By July though, Indians GM Mark Shapiro had seen enough to give Wedge a contract extension.

Going into 2004, Wedge saw his Indians going in the direction the top officials expected Wedge to take them.

"We're going to take the next step this year," Wedge told The Lakeland Ledger late that spring. "We're looking to take that next step and be more competitive in the division."

Wedge soon made that progress a reality, bringing the Indians almost to .500, ending with a record of 80-82. By 2005, Wedge's Indians had made it all the way back to 93-69 and a second-place finish.

It was in 2007, that the transitional period appeared over. The Indians finished in first place, with a record of 96-66. Wedge would later win Manager of the Year honors.

But the big honor he wanted, was that championship. The Indians made it to the ALCS, going up 3 games to 1 on the Red Sox. Then they lost.

"We played better than [the Red Sox] early on," Wedge told after the loss, "and they played better than us late. We won three in a row, and they won three in a row. They're still playing. That's all that matters. Everything else is just rhetoric."

Wedge's next two seasons went in the wrong direction, a .500 season and one in 2009, two years removed from nearly making the World Series, where he only won 65 games. His Manager of the Year award couldn't save him. He was fired before 2009 was out.

After sitting out 2010, Wedge joined the Mariners as manager for 2011.

"The experiences that I've gone through over the course of seven years in Cleveland have been tremendous for me as I move forward," Wedge told reporters after being hired by the Mariners. "I think there's a strong argument that when you go through something the second time around, you should be that much better."

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