I try not to get too involved with critiquing a manager, unless they’re making (what I feel are) blatantly bad decisions on the field on a regular basis. While I’m certainly not happy with the way the Indians are playing right now, Manny Acta can’t get in the game and bat, nor can he pitch. As far as his lineups and in-game decisions, what more could he do? He can’t make these guys suddenly hit left-handed pitching, and he can only send the starters he has available out there every five days. At the same time, I’m very upset with some of the things I’ve seen involving Acta’s leadership (or lack thereof) and Tuesday night’s game was really the last straw for me.
Throughout the season, it seems as if pitchers have been left drowning on the mound, long after they should have been removed. I understand the counterarguments – you don’t want to have too quick of a hook, especially when the starting staff (and everyone in the bullpen not named Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez) are struggling. At some point you do have to let pitchers work through their problems and save some of your arms for the rest of the games that week. At the same time, I’ve seen some spectacular implosions on the mound that just seemed to keep going and going. If you’re not going to pull him, at least send Scott Radinsky out there to talk to the guy and calm him down. Have Carlos Santana or Lou Marson walk the ball back to him and give him a breather for a second. I used to pitch (granted it was softball and a very long time ago) but I’d get into trouble every so often. I’d throw a lot of pitches, many of which were balls. It honestly helped me to have someone call time and come out to talk to me for a second. It’s like it got me out of the rut, so to speak, and I was able to clear my head, adjust mechanics, and move forward.
The most egregious example of this I’ve seen recently was during the Saturday, June 16 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Progressive Field. Nick Hagadone got into a lot of trouble, and really let the game slide out of control. He was surrendering hits and throwing tons of balls; I half expected about every other pitch to go to the backstop. It got to the point that I wasn’t even angry with Hagadone, I just felt sorry for him. It was one of those days that you just didn’t have it, yet nobody appeared to help him make adjustments, and nobody removed him from the game. He finally got out of the mess when he managed to get the third out of the inning. My father and I actually argued over this incident, because he believed that you have to let the young kid work his way out of trouble. I felt the exact opposite – you’re likely to destroy his confidence by leaving him out there. To me, this is the kind of thing you do to a Dan Wheeler; a veteran who struggled, but had been around the block enough times to get through the situation. I was so irritated by the Hagadone incident, that I predicted that he’d eventually have to make a trip back to Columbus to straighten himself out before everything was said and done. Since that day, Hagadone has a 21.60 ERA with a 3.60 WHIP. His overall ERA has now ballooned to 6.08 (it was under 2 for much of the season).
During last night’s game against the Yankees, there was a spectacularly bad call that went in the Yankees favor. (Will already mentioned it in his post from last night). Umpires are human, and human beings make mistakes, but to me that was just an extremely lazy call. He never asked Dewayne Wise to show him the ball, never conferred with other umpires; just went ahead and went with the bad call. The Indians are in a huge rut right now, and this bad call could’ve been used as a rallying point, an opportunity to get everyone fired up to give the Yankees some payback. (After all, they came darn close in the ninth inning.) Instead, I didn’t even see Manny Acta come out to argue the play (unless he did so during the commercial break).
Here are some possible reasons I jokingly came up with:
- He was really sick of watching the Indians play such terrible baseball and he decided to duck out early.
- Wanted to do some sightseeing in New York before the team left for Baltimore.
- Was out shopping for new glasses to add to his collection.
- He passed away several weeks ago and there’s been a Weekend at Bernie’s scenario taking place since that time. If anyone sees Andrew McCarthy in the dugout, CALL THE POLICE! (If you’re too young to get that reference, please hold on a minute while I go cry in the corner and lament my lost youth.)
Whatever the reason, Acta never seemed to get too worked up about the play. In the bottom of the inning, Jack Hannahan (the same person that hit the ball into the stands) said something to the umpire and eventually got himself thrown out of the game. How in the world does it get left up to a player to handle this situation? How does a manager let his third baseman get thrown out of the game? I always thought it was the manager’s duty to come out and intervene in those kinds of situations, to protect your players and make sure they don’t get tossed. Isn’t that why you typically see a coach literally dragging players away from umpires and completing the argument themselves? In this case, Acta really never got worked up about the situation.
While this can sort of be reduced to innuendo and rumor, I still feel it’s worth mentioning – Acta was recently voted one of the least respected managers in the game by an anonymous player survey. Men’s Journal anonymously polled 100 major league players on questions like the least respected manager, the most hated player, and the biggest trash talker. Acta was third in the least respected manager category, behind Ozzie Guillen and Bobby Valentine – both considered pretty polarizing and melodramatic figures. I was kind of surprised to see the quiet, calm Acta in their category, but maybe I shouldn’t have been. If he can’t even come out and support his third baseman, and lets him get thrown out of a game, it may make sense as to why players don’t respect him.
I know I certainly lost a great deal of respect for him after last night’s game.