The Indians have finally fired manager Manny Acta after three seasons of under performing with a lineup filled with young talent. While the manager doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the final result of each game, they do control small situations within each game and the day-to-day make-up of the lineup.
Over his time with the team, the vast majority of Manny Acta’s decisions have been the right ones for the time, but his mistakes have been obvious. As a manager of pitchers, Acta was as good as he could have been given what he has. For most of this season he has used the pitchers he trusted in the bullpen in situations that needed a pitcher of trust and used those he had little confidence in in blow outs. The only complaint you can have against his handling of pitchers was that he refused to allow pitchers to throw a complete game, although the situation rarely occurred this season when a pitcher deserved the chance.
The biggest mistakes from Acta have been with his dealing with the players individually and the setting of the lineup. Since the Indians are very tight knit and close lipped from the manager level up, it is hard to tell how much of this was the fault of Acta, and how much had more to do with General Manager Chris Antonetti. Use of reserve players in the everyday lineup is something this site comments on frequently and maybe things will get better without Acta. Aaron Cunningham played in 72 games this year while batting .175 and Lou Marson has played in 67 so far, hitting just .219. Russ Canzler and Ezequiel Carrera are now showing that there were better options in the minor leagues all year, but Acta doesn’t have direct control over roster moves. He did have the control of whether or not to play those players he did have as often as he did. He also had the right to petition Antonetti to bring in new players, but since the Indians rarely speak of in house business, we can never know exactly what he wanted.
One player who Acta mishandled was Lonnie Chisenhall. When a team has a player they are placing their hope for the future on, that player needs to play. Manny Ramirez didn’t have to split time in right field with Wayne Kirby when he came up, he was given the starting role. When Victor Martinez first made it to the Majors he competed with Josh Bard for the starting catcher job, won the competition and then was the starter for the rest of his time with the Tribe. Chisenhall, a first round draft pick in 2008 has been held back for two seasons by Jack Hannahan, a AAAA journeyman with a decent glove. Chisenhall has outhit Hannahan since day one and has played sufficient defense, but was never given more than a platoon chance at third. During this same time, Jason Kipnis (a second round pick from 2009) was given the reigns at second and has played almost every single game there since he was first promoted. This seems like blatent favoritism by the manager. Neither player has been perfect defensively and they stand with career OPS within 0.13 points of each other (.713 for Chisenhall, .736 for Kipnis), but Kipnis has managed to get himself into 182 games over the past two years while Chisenhall has played in 103.
The final straw against Acta was that when the going got tough, he gave up. This quote of his summed up his feelings during the Indians terrible month of August:
“They do need to relax. There have never been 25 guys released [at once] in the history of the game. They should relax. If one guy is going to go, it’s going to be me, not them. So relax and play the game.”
Here’s one place he was completely right, all 25 players were not released at once and he was the one guy who was going to go. Well…him and Shelley Duncan and Aaron Cunningham.
I will end with this quote from Paul Dolan from this article claiming that nobody was going to be fired this season.
“We all have a lot of work to do, but their jobs aren’t at stake.”
Well what should he have said, “we won’t be firing anybody today, but look out right before the last home stand”?
Good luck to Sandy Alomar, Jr., the newest (interim) manager of the Cleveland Indians. May your reign be long and prosperous.