Manny Acta Is A Risky Proposition
When the Mets collapsed in 2007 and 2008, one person that was conspicuously absent was third base coach Manny Acta. In his time serving that role with the Mets, he had become known as an intelligent forward thinking baseball man, who showed an ability to connect with the players on the team.
Those traits led to Acta being a hot managerial candidate that offseason not too dissimilar to what we see with Alex Cora right now. Coincidentally, many of the positive things said about Cora now were said about Acta after the 2006 season.
Acta would get hired after the 2006 season as the Nationals manager. This would begin an interesting six year managerial career split between the Nationals and the Indians. He would have go 158-252 (.385) with the Nationals, and 214-266 (.446) with the Indians.
One of the reasons for the struggles with the Nationals was talent. The team had just parted ways with talented players including Alfonso Soriano. Of the famed group of Nationals who are part of the core of the current Nationals team that won multiple division titles, he would only get to manage Ryan Zimmerman.
It was a similar issue with the Indians. It was a team in transition after Cliff Lee was traded mid-season the year prior to his arrival. Acta would lead the team to a surprise second place finish in 2011 increasing expectations for 2012. That team had underperforming veterans like Derek Lowe, Ubaldo Jimenez, Casey Kotchman, and Johnny Damon didn’t produce, and young players like Corey Kluber, Cody Allen, and Jason Kipnis who were not quite ready.
Overall, Acta was well considered in baseball circles. Its why when he was fired by the Nationals they said, “Manny is so intelligent, and so articulate. And he’s very good with players. He’s very active. He was out there hitting fungos (while managing the Nationals). He has a lot going for him.” (Sports Illustrated).
It’s why Acta only had to wait a season between managerial jobs. That is the case when he has two top five Manager of the Year finishes under his belt. After his managerial stint was over, Acta was hired by ESPN where he would work for Baseball Tonight. For the past two seasons, he served as the Mariners third base coach. When he was hired, Mariners manger Scott Servais said, “I believe Manny will be a great addition to our staff. I’ve known him for over 25 years, since we were teammates in 1989. His experience as a Major League third-base coach and manager, paired with his extensive player-development background, will be very valuable to me, and to our players, as we move forward.” (MLB.com).
Between his tenure with the Nationals and the Indians, we began to get a picture of who Acta was as a manager. Generally speaking, he was seen as a smart baseball man who had an analytical approach to the game. Whereas some managers use instincts and a gunslinger mentality, Acta was a tactician who relied on the data. For many, this would invoke comparisons to Joe Girardi, which depending on your point of view, could be seen as a positive or a negative.
In terms of the clubhouse, Acta had a mixed reputation like many managers do. For one player, he was seen as someone who didn’t keep a tight reign on this players. For others, he was a manager who respected the veterans and let them control the clubhouse. For many, this would invoke comparisons to Terry Collins, which again depending on your view, could be seen as a positive or a negative.
Really, throughout his two tenures as manger, the only real pure negative thing anyone had to say about him was he was a poor motivator, and he was rigid in his ways. As then Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin said of Acta, “He said that’s how he managed, that’s how he won in the Minor Leagues and that’s how he was going to win in the big leagues — by being himself. You have to respect a man for that, that he wasn’t going to change who he was.” (MLB.com).
As for his ability to motivate Joe Smith said, “Our team, for whatever reason, didn’t seem motivated to play. It’s sad when you say that about a bunch of guys that get paid to play a game. You shouldn’t need somebody else to motivate you to play this game. At the end of the day, it’s on us, but when it came that time to motivate us, there wasn’t a whole lot of it there.”
Overall, Acta is well considered to be a good and smart baseball man. It is why he continues to get jobs. It is also why you do see a positive impact on whatever team he joins. Still, between his record and the specific criticism of being rigid in how he manages and his inability to motive, you do question if he’s well suited to be a manager.” Then again, those things only to be raised as issues when someone is fired.
In the end, we still probably don’t know what Acta is as a manager because he’s never quite had sufficient talent to manage. Considering the current composition of the Mets roster, this would make Acta a risky bet for this Mets team. Then again, so would Cora or anyone else the Mets are considering.