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.

13 Comments

  • SeattleStu says:

    not that it would matter with this team, but Acta is a boob….your analysis was right on point and probably more respectful than he deserves…pitcher management & lack of passion have always been weak spots for me w/ this guy….i dont know why but this season feels even more depressing for me than last year.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    I agree with you – there’s something about this season that bugs me that I haven’t been able to put my finger on. I almost feel like they’re really apathetic and lethargic this year. They may not be, but I keep getting that impression.

  • Charity says:

    This is one of the reasons Acta failed as a manager in DC. Young, struggling teams see their opposition get the benefit of close and not-so-close calls all of the time. Acta never fought for his guys, so they didn’t respect him and umps didn’t respect the team. I thought when he left the Nats he might do better with a more established team. For awhile, it seemed like the Indians were a good fit… but maybe he just isn’t cut out to manage. If he can’t act like a leader, he needs to find a better way to utilize the skills he does have.

  • Mary Jo says:

    At least the Tribe is no worse than 26th in the category “Which team would you least like to play for?” I know, grasping at straws…

  • Bob Sproule says:

    I get your frustration here. I can remember an interleague series a few years back – can’t recall the exact year – when the Pirates went into Yankee Stadium for the first time since 1960. A call that could have been highly arguable went against the Pirates and Lloyd McClendon never left the dugout. The umpire even looked toward the dugout awaiting McClendon to charge out, but Lloyd just sat there with a sheepish look on his face. It seemed like he was afraid to challenge ANYTHING since it happened in Yankee Stadium against the NEW YORK YANKEES. As I say, I can’t recall if that was Lloyd’s last season as Buc skipper, and I’m too lazy to look it up, but it seemed to me that McClendon was DONE as the Pirates manager as of that night.

  • David says:

    I just read an article that appeared in the Washington Post not long before Acta was fired from the Nationals job in 2009. Acta is quoted as saying that he had a short temper that he displayed during his first managerial job, with Auburn in the New York-Penn League (1993-96).

    “I spent too much time arguing with umpires and stuff and getting thrown out of the game until my farm director just flat-out told me, ‘You’re being paid to manage the ballgame, not to get thrown out [of] the game. You gotta stay in the game and watch these kids and teach them how to play.’ ”

    Later, while watching televised games, he noticed the negative reactions managers had to mistakes made on the field, and thought of the embarrassment players and their relatives might feel seeing or hearing about those reactions.

    “I told myself . . . the day I get a shot [at managing in the majors] I’m not going to be able to do that. I’m aware the camera’s on me; that’s why I’m not [cursing] anybody or doing anything that’s uncalled for.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/28/AR2009062802479.html

    Now of course, it’s one thing to embarrass a player, and quite another to protest a bad umpire’s call. But the impression I get here is that Acta disdains any public outburst. We’ve seen him be sarcastic with reporters during postgame press conferences, but that’s about as far as he seems willing to go.

    I know that as bench coach, part of Sandy’s job is to offer input that may be contrary to Acta’s decisions and procedures. Wonder if he has suggested a more fiery approach in situations like last night’s.

  • John-Ryan Dobbs says:

    I think I can sadly say that most Free agents would rather play for the Browns than the Indians.

  • Tim says:

    For me, I think it is a cumulative effect at the continuing failure of this front office to address the team’s glaring needs. Month after month. Year after year. Every month, the excuses make sense. Every year, the excuses make sense. In totality though, it’s pathetic.

    We’ve had a LF problem for how many years? No RH power for how long? No production from 3 of our corners for how long?

    They’ve worn me out.

  • Brenden Lowery says:

    *nods head while clapping* I could not have written it better myself Stephanie.

    If you asked me to rank all of the MLB managers best-to-worst as far as a manager that “sticks up for their players”, to me Acta ranks DEAD last. I mean, how he cannot muster enough anger to come out and argue some of the bad calls the Indians have dealt with in the past few games is beyond me. I really do believe he is just a corpse, a la Weekend at Bernie’s style as you mentioned.

    With that being said (And I am not saying fire the guy by any means), but I am going to go into severe depression if we keep Acta at the end of the year, and Sandy Alomar Jr. becomes a manager for an upstart team. I certainly would not blame him considering he’s just an assistant for us, but I really think the guy could be an excellent manager. He definitely commands the player’s respect due to his career, is a very vocal guy, and would definitely argue some calls.

  • Chris says:

    The Men’s Health article you referenced was interesting; however, Acta only received 5% of the vote. Given that there were only 100 “randomly selected” players surveyed that means that 5 randomly surveyed players stated that Acta was their least respected manager. To me the opinions of 5 random MLB players doesn’t hold much water. Do I wish he stood up for the players more? Maybe. But, there is also something to be said about a manager who is even-keeled and who does not act out irrationally. I see Acta as an intelligent and level-headed manager and that is the kind of person I’d rather have in the dugout most of the time.

  • Drew says:

    Brenden – The Indians exercised Manny Acta’s option for the 2013 season last September. Might I suggest an SSRI to combat your severe depression?

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