Cokin's Corner

  • Someone needs to turn down the heat! Those might be the words coming from the mouths of a handful of major league managers. There are three, perhaps four locales, where patience may be growing thin. Even though it's merely speculation at this point, this is a baseball bettors need to keep an eye on. That's because these managers are running teams that are underachieving, and it might make sense to at least hesitate before asking these teams to do something they haven't been doing as often as they should.

    First stop, Cleveland. The Indians just missed qualifying for the playoffs in 2005, and were on virtually everyone's short list of serious contenders coming into this season. But the Tribe has once again stumbled out of the gate and with the emergence of the Tigers and the presence of the defending champion White Sox in the AL Central Division, this team is in serious trouble. So is manager Eric Wedge. He's enduring heavy criticism for fans, and I can't disagree with their verdict. It's beyond me why Wedge has refused to juggle his batting order. The two and three holes just haven't produced. Jason Michaels hasn't been awful playing left field and hitting second, but he.5?s been far from great.

    Even worse has been shortstop Jhonny Peralta hitting third. Peralta has labored all year, and isn't flashing much power while living in the low rent .250 neighborhood. I can live with Michaels in the two hole, but Peralta should have been dropped in the order weeks ago. Yet he's still taking up space in the three spot. Unless Wedge gets things rolling soon, he might be looking for work before the All Star break.

    Charlie Manuel is on the threshold of some big heat in Philadelphia. Like the Indians, the Phillies also narrowly missed qualifying for the 2005 post season. They're very much in the mix this season, but have left too many wins on the table. The players that had to endure the manic Larry Bowa may appreciate Manuel's countrified attitude. But where are the improved results? Manuel's misuse of the bullpen has come under fire, with the most notable gaffe coming last week in a 16 inning loss to the Mets.

    In that game, Manuel used Arthur Rhodes and Tom Gordon for a total of seven pitches, while putting back of the bullpen righty Ryan Franklin into the most important situation of the game. Manuel also was an Ed Wade hire. But Wade is no longer the GM in Philly, and new head man Pat Gillick may very well want to put his own skipper in place. Manuel might want to start scouting around for a good real estate agent.

    I've got Oakland manager Ken Macha on this list as well. The A's aren't playing well, and let's remember that Macha and GM Billy Beane weren't exactly on the same page following last season. The injuries to the Oakland pitching staff aren't the fault of Macha, but there's an impression among many observers that the A's aren't playing very inspired baseball. They.5?re a disappointing entry to date at the very least.

    Finally, there's Dusty Baker. The Cubs manager is easily the most criticized in all of baseball and there's no way the Cubs should be this bad. But the absence of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior from the pitching staff and the injury to superstar 1B Derrek Lee are merely excuses that may net Baker yet another reprieve. The view from here is that Dusty is a great clubhouse skipper, but a brutal game manager. Personally, I think Baker will keep the job through at least this season. But if the Cubs are really intent on winning, changing managers might be the first move they ought to make.

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