So, Manny Acta, eh?
I can't disagree too much with general manager Mark Shapiro's decision, which the Indians announced today. I wanted someone who was an outsider, a strong voice with a different perspective, to manage the Indians. Acta sounds like that voice.
"We are very excited to have Manny Acta as our Major League manager,” Shapiro said in a press release. “After speaking with an impressive array of candidates, we feel that Manny is a very strong and experienced leader who possesses great energy and enthusiasm along with tremendous communication skills and a positive mindset that will command a presence in the dugout, clubhouse and with our fans.”
Seems like a nice choice, right?
Acta might be, too. He would not, however, have been my choice; I preferred Bobby Valentine, a less-risky hire. But I'll have to defer to Shapiro on who was the best fit for the ballclub he's trying to remake.
In picking Acta, Shapiro brought in a respected teacher who is bilingual and comfortable with a bad organization.
I do wish Acta, 40, had a record of success on his managerial resume. I mean, what he did with the Nationals doesn't suggest he's the next Walter Alston or Sparky Anderson. But under the circumstances -- and the circumstances in D.C. were dire -- Acta did about as well as anybody else could have done. A bad organization needs miracles to succeed, and miracles don't fall out of the baseball tree too often.
Now, the question is this: Is Acta trading one bad organization for another?
He won't be inheriting a team deep in talent. The Indians are short of top-shelf pitching, have a bullpen in disrepair and lack speed. At times last season, they displayed the fundamental soundness of a Little League team, which is an indictment of fired manager Eric Wedge.
Not sure if the Nats were the symbol of a fundamentally-sound team, because I didn't see much of them. Why would I? If baseball fans in D.C. didn't bother with them, I had no reason to watch them either.
But the shipwreck that was the 2009 Nats is behind Acta. What is ahead of him is hard to tell, the obvious shortcomings of the Indians notwithstanding. Yet if he thought he was inheriting a pennant contender, he is sadly mistaken.
He's coming into a rebuilding project, a job that might be worst than what he left. It won't be a quick turnaround either. The job will test Acta's patience, as it will tests the patience of the hungry-for-a-winner Tribe faithful.
For now, fans know who will be at the helm of this team. It will be run by a man in Acta, who reportedly turned down the Astros job, with experience and the ability to communicate. The team will also be run by someone who can bring a fresh eye to it all.
That's what Shapiro needed for the organization: an outsider. The question he can't answer now is did he pick the "right" outsider.