Sunday, October 25, 2009

Manny Acta named 40th manager of the Cleveland Indians

MLB: Washington Nationals at Los Angeles DodgersThe Cleveland Indians have made their choice for their manager during the 2010 season and beyond. According to writer Anthony Castrovince, Manny Acta, who was fired by the Washington Nationals last season after going 158-252 during his 2 1/2 seasons as manager, is Mark Shapiro's man.

The 40-year old Acta was canned by the Nationals mid-way through the 2009, which had put a kibosh to several years of upwards movement as a coach, which began in 1991 as a player-coach for the Asheville Tourists. From 1993, Acta managed at various levels of the Houston organization. In 2002, he became former Tribe player/manager Frank Robinson's third base coach, lasting in that position until 2004. He then became the third base coach for the New York Mets until 2006. The Nats hired him as their manager in 2007.

So is this a good hire for the Indians? My short answer is no. Acta is certainly the type of manager that Mark Shapiro was looking for. Acta is a firm believer and follower of Sabermetrics, which was no doubt important to the like-minded Shapiro. Acta also had a vast knowledge of the Indians current roster, and threw out the caveat that he's likely been in contact with the Tribe front office for the better part of a month. He certainly has a basic familiarity with the club he will be taking over. Of course, wouldn't any manager that gets the job? I'm not worried about the guy that does his homework for an interview. I'm worried about a guy who does his homework on his way to a World Series.

What worries me is that Acta fits into the same mold as Eric Wedge. Sure, Wedge had his good points. Even I can admit that. The sum of his parts obviously didn't equal consistent success. Now I don't know Acta from a hill of beans, but there are reports that Acta shares many of the same depressive traits as his predecessor. Does this make him a yes man, as everyone fears? I'm not sure. I do know that Mark Shapiro is on the hook, as he should be. If Acta does prove to be another Shapiro robot, this team likely won't succeed.

Top that off with the where Acta came from, and it equates to a bad, bad mixture. Acta came from Washington, and lost a whole bunch. His record in 2 1/2 seasons with the Nationals was 158-252. Nothing to shout home about. He comes from a lot of losing and likely will be a Shapiro yes-man. Boy, it does get you excited, doesn't it?

Losing isn't always a precursor of more losing. Terry Francona had a horrid stay in Philadelphia and rolled out a record of 285-363. He obviously did a bit better in Boston. Joe Torre was even worse with the Mets. He started his career with a 286-420 record, before righting the ship with stints in Atlanta, St. Louis, the Yankees and the Dodgers. Bobby Cox started his career in Atlanta, and struggled as well. His 263-323 start was a bit better than Francona and Torre, but it bought him a pink slip, before he was rehired a few years later for a more successful run in both Toronto and back in Atlanta.

Could Acta be the next Francona...the next Torre...or the next Cox?...or is he going to just be the next Wedge?

The bottom line? It doesn't really matter now, because he's here either way.

Is it a good hire? Not in my opinion, but I can only hope...

Isn't that what we say every year?

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