Art Howe

Managerial Profile: Manny Acta

Manny Acta

Current Position: Mariners Third Base Coach
Age: 1/11/1969 (48)

MLB Managerial Experience: 2007 – 2009 Washington Nationals 158 – 252 (.385); 2010 – 2012 Cleveland Indians 214-266 (.480)

One of the most respected coaches on Willie Randolph‘s staff was noticeably missing during the 2007 and 2008 collapses that doomed not just the Mets, but also Randolph.  The person missing was third base coach Manny Acta.

Much like we saw with Alex Cora this season, Acta was a hot commodity back then because he was widely considered the next big manager.  Acta was respected for his intelligence, baseball acumen, and his ability to communicate with players.  That went double for young and Hispanic players.  In fact, the Washington Nationals said of Acta, “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).  That’s a remarkable thing to say about a manager.  It’s all the more incredible when you consider that was said when they fired him.

Because Acta is well respected and because people believe he’s an intelligent man who continues to educate himself, he keeps getting jobs.  After failing with the Nationals, he was hired by the Indians.  After failing with the Indians, he was hired by Baseball Tonight.  After a well received Baseball Tonight stint, he was hired by the Mariners to serve as their third base coach, a position which he holds today.

Considering how well respected he is, it makes you question why he never worked out as a manager.  For starters, he’s never really had good teams.  When we thing of the current Nationals who are one of the best teams in baseball, you think of Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and Ryan Zimmerman.  In his Nationals tenure, Acta only got to manage a young Zimmerman.

In Cleveland, he had a difficult situation with the old players getting old fast, and the young players not being quite ready.  Players like Johnny Damon and Derek Lowe were hanging on while Jason Kipnis and Corey Kluber weren’t what they are now.  As many will note, even the best of managers cannot win without talent.

But with Acta, it might have been more than just a lack of talent.  In a MASN article, Acta was described as being unable to relate to players.  As bad as that might be, an AP article was even more damning of Acta as a manager with Indians players feeling as if Acta did not have their back.  There were other reports suggesting Acta was rigid in his ways, and that he was unable to motivate his players.  Put another way, Acta’s greatest weakness as manager might be his ability to handle a clubhouse.

What the Players Say:

Joe Smith: “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.”  (MLB.com)

Josh Tomlin: “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.”

Recommendation:

It is interesting to see Mike Puma’s recent New York Post article on the subject of Acta’s candidacy.  Ultimately, it highlighted the best points of Acta that leads to teams continuously trying to bring him into their organization.  However, that same piece highlighted his weaknesses, notably his inability to “handle controversy.”

What we don’t know from with Acta is if he’s grown from the issues that held back his career in Washington and Cleveland.  If he hasn’t then hiring him should prove to be a disaster much in the same way hiring Art Howe or Jeff Torborg was.  The Puma article does little to quell those concerns.

However, if Acta has grown and has learned from his mistakes in the clubhouse like we have see from Terry Collins during his Mets managerial career, you will have a smart baseball person who is hard working.  In life, you can never go wrong with smart and hard working.

Ultimately, any decision on Acta should begin with long and honest conversations with David Wright and Asdrubal Cabrera.  Both are veterans who Acta has coached/managed.  If both endorse Acta, it’s possible he’s the right man for the job.  That goes double when you consider most of the praise directed at Acta comes from front offices and not players.  If Acta doesn’t receive glowing endorsements from Wright or Cabrera, it should be an easy decision to look in a different direction.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on MMO

Former Mets In The Postseason

When determining which team to root for this postseason, the general rule of thumb is to root against the Mets rivals.  With the Mets making a number of trades this season, you could also root for teams according to their Mets connections:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

East – Boston Red Sox

Assistant Pitching Coach – Brian Bannister (2006)

Bannister made the Mets out if Spring Training in 2006. His tenure was short lived as he injured his hamstring, and Omar Minaya rebuilt the rotation in-season pushing a healthy Bannister out. He’d be moved that offseason in an ill-fated trade for Ambiorix Burgos.

RHP Blaine Boyer (2011)

Boyer pitched just five games for the Mets before leaving via free agency. He would not pitch in the majors again until 2014.

RHP Addison Reed (2015 – 2017)

Acquired on the eve of September, Reed quickly became an important seventh inning reliever on the Mets pennant winning team. He was even better the next season helping pitch the Mets back to the postseason. With Jeurys Familia‘s suspension and injury, Reed became an effective closer before being traded for a trio of Red Sox relief prospects at the trade deadline.

OF Chris Young (2014)

After a few down years, the Mets took a one year gamble on Young. He struggled all year, and he was released with the Mets eight games under .500 and 10.5 games back in the division. Since that time, Young has been a much more effective player.

Central – Cleveland Indians

First Base Coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. (2007 – 2009)

Alomar ended his playing career playing eight games with the Mets in 2007.  He would then begin his coaching career with the Mets serving two years as a special catching instructor.

RF Jay Bruce (2016-2017)

Bruce went from bust who struggled mightily after being acquired at the trade deadline last year to fan favorite this year. Fortunately for the Indians, Bruce wouldn’t repeat his struggles helping propel the Indians to 102 wins.

RHP Joe Smith (2007 – 2008)

Smith went straight from being a third round draft pick in 2006 to being a very good reliever for the Mets in two seasons.  Ironically, he moved as part the three team J.J. Putz trade intended to improve the Mets bullpen.

West – Houston Astros

DH Carlos Beltran (2005 – 2011)

Seeing him in the postseason again will certainly evoke memories of Adam Wainwright, but he was so much more than that in a Mets uniform.  Beltran was the best center fielder in Mets history and perhaps their best outfielder ever.

Juan Ceteno (2013 – 2014)

Ceteno is a strong defensive catcher who played just 14 games over two years before he was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Bench Coach Alex Cora (2009 – 2010)

Cora joined the Mets in the hopes of being an important utility player on a playoff caliber team.  Unfortunately, injuries and a ballpark ill-suited for the talents of the players on the roster brought that run to an end.

Hitting Coach Dave Hudgens (2011 – 2014)

Hudgens was the Mets hitting coach who was entrusted with helping the Mets adapt to a new ballpark.  While he was much embattled in the position, Mets offensive highlights during his tenure included Ike Davis hitting 30 homers and the last great season from David Wright.

Pitching Coach Brent Strom (1972)

Strom was the Mets 1970 first round draft pick.  He appeared in just one season with the team going 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP.

Third Base Coach Gary Pettis (2003 – 2004)

Pettis served as the first base and outfield coach during the Art Howe Era.

Wild Card – New York Yankees

RHP Luis Cessa

Cessa was the other pitching prospect the Mets sent to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes trade.

Wild Card – Minnesota Twins

Pitching Coach Neil Allen (1979 – 1983)

While Allen had a noteworthy Mets career of his own, he will forever be known as one of the two players traded by the Mets in exchange for Keith Hernandez.

RHP Bartolo Colon (2014 – 2016)

“Big Sexy” became a fan favorite and a mentor to the young pitchers in the clubhouse.  There are a number of highlights you can choose from his Mets career, but the one that keeps coming to mind was the unbelievable home run he hit in San Diego last year.

RHP Dillon Gee (2010 – 2015)

Gee is an example of a pitcher who has gotten everything out of his ability.  He has been resilient overcoming a number of injuries in his career with his career highlight possibly being his named the Mets 2014 Opening Day starter.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

East – Washington Nationals

OF Alejandro De Aza (2016)

De Aza had an interesting year with the Mets.  He was terrible to begin the year, and he then had a great July helping propel the Mets second half run to the Wild Card.

Pitching Coach Mike Maddux (1993 – 1994)

Maddux pitched two years for the Mets pitching to a 4.16 ERA as a reliever before departing via free agency.

2B Daniel Murphy (2008 – 2015)

Somehow Murphy has become one of the most divisive players among the Mets fanbase.  Many still fondly remember his for his time witht he Mets, especially his incredible NLDS and NLCS propelling the Mets to the pennant.  Others see a player who annihilates the Mets since leaving the team.

LHP Oliver Perez (2006 – 2010)

Believe it or not, there was a time where Perez was beloved for his Game 7 performance and his start the final game of the 2008 season.  He then fell off a cliff upon receiving a huge contract.  Things got so bad, he refused a minor league assignment, and his last appearance as a Met would be the team throwing him into the 14th inning on the last game of the season just to get the game over with.

Central – Cubs

Quality Control Coach Henry Blanco (2010)

“Hank White” was brought on as a defensive back-up, and he excelled in the role throwing out 50% of base stealers.

C Rene Rivera (2016 – 2017)

Rivera was a defensive specialist who helped Noah Syndergaard overcome his issues holding on base runners.  It was more than Syndergaard, Rivera served as a mentor for young starters Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman who helped pitch the Mets to the Wild Card.

West – Dodgers

Bench Coach Bob Geren (2012 – 2015)

Geren served as the bench coach for the Mets serving as a mentor for the Mets catchers.  Since his departure, we have seen Mets catchers regress in their pitch framing, and we have certainly seen Travis d’Arnaud regress in nearly every aspect of his game.

OF Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2017)

Granderson is one of the finest men to ever put on a Mets uniform.  He also came up biggest when the Mets needed him most.  Granderson kept the Mets afloat in 2015, and if not for some blown leads, he was in line to be the MVP of that series.  His big outburst to end the 2016 season helped lead the Mets back to the postseason.

3B Justin Turner (2010 – 2013)

Turner was an effective utility player in his years with the Mets who was really non-tendered because he was arbitration eligible.  Turner would find himself a home in Los Angeles where he has become a terrific player.

Third Base Coach Chris Woodward (2005 – 2006)

Woodward was a valuable utility player for the Mets for two seasons having the second best season of his entire career in 2005.

Wild Card – Diamondbacks

RHP Matt Koch (2012 – 2015)

Koch was one of the two minor league pitchers traded by the Mets for Addison Reed.  While Koch is on the 40 man roster, it is not expected he will be on the postseason roster.

Wild Card – Rockies

None

Based on the sheer volume of Mets affiliations, it would appear Mets fans would be pulling for the Astros in the American League and either the Nationals or Dodgers in the National League.  Considering the presence of Chase Utley on the Dodgers and the recent rivalry with the Nationals, most Mets fans will understandably choose rooting interests for different reasons all together.

 

Mets Smearing Collins Continues Horrible Pattern

Is anyone surprised the Mets decided to smear Terry Collins before parting ways with him this offseason?  Well, you shouldn’t be because  it follows a pattern from this organization since the Wilpons have taken control of the team.  While full ownership did not fully transfer until 2002, the Wilpons had gradually gained control throughout the years and were really front in center with an already hands-off Doubleday suffering health issues.

Coming off the heels of the 2000 World Series, Alex Rodriguez made it well known he wanted to play for the Mets, the team he’s always loved.  Instead of the team letting themselves get outbid, they declared him to be a 24 and one player.

Instead of thanking managers like Bobby Valentine and Art Howe for their service, they talked about how their teams quit on them, which is as damning a statement you can make against a manager.  Things went further for Howe calling him soft, weak, boring, and out of touch.

As poorly as Howe was treated on the way out, it pales in comparison to how Willie Randolph was treated.  This went beyond the accusations he was out of touch and couldn’t get through to his players.  No, they had to fly him out to California and fire him at 3:00 A.M. after a win!  They then replaced him with Jerry Manuel, who was the person bad mouthing Randolph behind his back with, you guessed it, Jeff Wilpon.

It wasn’t just managers that received this treatment.  Remember what happened with Yoenis Cespedes in the 2015 offseason?  When the team made it clear they had wanted to pass on re-signing him?  First, he was a round peg in a square hole that couldn’t handle center.  It wasn’t just that, we heard whispers about whether a team could trust Cespedes on a long-term deal.

Now, the Mets have turned their attention to Collins.  Reading Marc Carig’s Newsday article on the subject, the team couldn’t help but tear him down before parting ways with him this offseason.  Reading the column, you can see the Mets have gotten much better at this detailing all of his faults:

  1. Constant tactical blunders;
  2. Resisted input;
  3. Poor relationship with players;
  4. Shielded by Fred Wilpon from firing;
  5. Front office had no confidence in him;
  6. Abused relief pitchers;
  7. No interest in playing young guys;
  8. Played players like Jeurys Familia into injuries;
  9. Inmates ran the asylum; and
  10. Team was miserable.

Any Mets fans who has paid attention to the team could tell you any of the above was true.  We saw Collins staple Michael Conforto to the bench for under-performing veterans.  He pressured Steven Matz to pitch through the pain.  There was the drama surrounding Asdrubal Cabrera‘s position switch.  There have been a wake of injured relievers during his career.  All of the above has proven to be true.

Through all of it, the Mets kept Collins.  They dismissed these concerns and even put forth the illusion he was great handling the clubhouse.  However, now that Collins is on his way out, those positive narratives are gone; replaced by the truth or something close to it.

The sad part is this is completely unnecessary.  Collins dutifully serves this organization since 2010 and managed them since 2011.  He led the team to consecutive postseasons and delivered a pennant.  Despite all of this, we all knew this was the end, and really, there was no one asking for him to return to the Mets.  Most agreed it was time for the Mets to select a new manager, a new direction.

For some reason, the Mets couldn’t leave well enough alone.  They had to tear the guy down on his way out.  Sadly, this is not a new low for the organization because you can’t get any lower than how they treated Randolph.  Rather, the team has become better and more efficient at doing it.

With the way Collins has been treated it makes you question what type of manager would be willing to accept a job from the Mets considering how they are treated and smeared on their way out the door.

Remaining Reasons To Watch The Mets

Right now, the Mets are just a bad baseball team.  When you are a fan of a bad baseball team, it is sometimes difficult to find seasons to watch.  Thankfully, there still remain reasons to watch the Mets:

Jacob deGrom – This year, deGrom has returned to pitching like an ace.  No, he may not be the guy he was in 2015, but he’s still a great pitcher.  You know with him on the mound the Mets have a chance to win the game.  With his ability, anything is possible.

Michael Conforto – We have been watching Conforto have one of the best, if not the best, season a young Mets player has ever had.  He will soon be the youngest Mets player to ever hit 30 homers.  He’s showing how special he is taking on more leadership responsibilities in the clubhouse.

Chris Flexen – Very quickly, Flexen has gone from over-matched to holding his own.  He’s just 23 and had just seven Double-A starts under his belt.  Just holding his own at this point is remarkable.  Sooner or later, he may just prove he belongs at this level.

Juan Lagares – One thing that really stood out in the Subway Series was this man can still play Gold Glove defense.  In fact, he might be the best outfielder in baseball with his league leading 34.0 UZR/150.  Metrics aside, it’s a joy to watch him play center field defense, and you never know when he is going to make his next great play.

Amed Rosario & Dominic Smith They have essentially been presented as this generations David Wright and Jose Reyes or Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.  If they’re at those levels, the Mets will quickly turn things around.  If they are truly this good, we won’t want to miss a minute of them playing.  To that end, we have already seen great defense from them, and they’ve already homered in the same game.

With that, there are five very good reasons to continue watching this team.  Other than that, we can watch because we’re Mets fans, and we love our team.  I know I watched the Jeff Torborg, Art Howe, or Jerry Manuel Mets teams, I can certainly watch this team.