Acta’n a Fool: What is the real plan?

19 05 2010

One of the reasons you will currently find happy, drunk Browns fans abound in an otherwise depressed city is that with the addition of Mike Holmgren, the Browns franchise has embraced a ‘larger picture.’ There’s a plan. No longer will fans have to deal with the topsy turvey and erratic decisions of the yearly carousel of all powerful coaches. No more Butch Davis, no no, Romeo, no no, Mangenious, wait no no, [insert hyped new candidate here]. Stability and vision.

Tribe fans are thinking: “Man, must be nice…”

They might look alike, but Russell from "Up" could still out-manage Manny Acta

Seriously, even in the years of disorder, the year’s with no plan, at least the Browns had some logical coach candidates.

Cooper and Butch were the Urban Meyers, the Steve Spurriers of the late 90s. College coaches just don’t always translate, but it’s worth a shot. Romeo was Savage’s guy and Romeo had pedigree- a Bellichek product; and on the defensive side of the ball no less! Mangenious, same idea: Bellichek tree, rising coach candidate, even some good work with the Jets. Worth a shot.

The Tribe coaching situation starts off fine, with Chuck Manual, clearly a guy that could coach- sometimes it just takes a second time around to make it happen. What about Shapiro’s guy- try #2? The Wedge. Ok, understandable, Shapiro liked him (he gets one, “my guy” flier) and he was a catcher, nice. Almost got us there, but didn’t work out.

So where we going next, what logical will we try out: The hyped up-and-coming ex-player (catcher) ala Joe Girardi or A.J Hinch, (or the original, Mike Sciosia)? The safe and exciting hire, a proven legend ala Joe Torre or Jim Leyland (catchers), Bobby Cox, and Tony LaRussa (AKA ‘the Cowher option’ for the Browns)? Bring back a successful, old team legend (Mike Hargrove) ala Cito Gaston?


Buck the logic. Let’s go with the guy that never cracked the bigs. Who didn’t catch. Who was a product of a dysfunctional and unsuccessful Willy Randolph coaching tree. Who had 3 ATROCIOUS seasons in Washington coaching a young team that looks a lot like the Tribe, and who didn’t even have some years off to learn from his mistakes (ala Terry Francona). Hell, who is a product of a fairly unsuccessful Houston organization.

We hired a guy that was canned, for not developing young players (Tribe job description), by the worst team in baseball? What the…

Seriously, at least the Browns didn’t decide to hire Dick Juron.

Manny Acta’s one angle of appeal is his interest in Sabermetrics. Which would be a plus for a GM like Theo Epstein or Billy Beane who are building teams based on numbers. But the Tribe is a scouting based organization that haphazardly dips into Sabermetrics when they don’t have a kid they like to bring up (see: the Jason Michaels/David Dellucci platoon). So our management chooses a coach that doesn’t even mesh with the ‘scout first’ philosophy? Well, maybe it’s situational. What did Acta do with young guys?

Let’s see: he didn’t turn around talented, bad-character guys like Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes; He didn’t use talented, under the radar guys, like Nyjer Morgan; Star, Jordan Zimmerman, got shipped back DOWN (Matt Laporta anyone?). What DID Acta do?

He lost: In 3 years he had a .385 winning% (158 wins to 252 losses). His teams hit for a .255 average, scored an average of 674 runs, and hit an average of 132 home runs. His pitchers had a 3 year ERA of 4.74 and WHIP of 1.406. These stats are on par with the Royals and with them even the Royals managed a .430 winning percentage over the span in a tougher division and in a much tougher league.

More disheartening? In 2009, Acta’s Nationals went 26-61, a .298 winning%. With the same team, in the same season, after taking over, Jim Riggleman coached the team to a 33-42 record, a .440 winning%. Now, with the meager additions of Ivan Rodruigez and Livan Hernandez, Riggleman has the Nats in 2nd place in the division and a 20-18 record.

No typos. The Nat’s fired Manny Acta and become a .500% team with two guys I would have screamed about if the Tribe added them.

What’s the plan? Keep trading Cy Young pitchers and cornerstones of the team, like V-Mart? We haven’t even re-loaded, which is typically what happens for small market clubs after a ‘run’ (see: 1997, Jim Leyland coached, evil Marlins). I want to remind you, Cy Youngs typically are worth top prospects (remember the 90s? Schilling? Colon?), not under-performing ones, Carlos Carrasco. The defending World Series champs kept J.J Happ and Kyle Drabek. And, what did it turn out Cliff Lee was worth? Roy Halladay.

I can’t even give Phil a ‘tight situation pass.’ It wasn’t an Albert Bell or Man-Ram situation. Lee had another year on the contract. You don’t think someone’s going to want him for the post season this year to beat the Yanks or Phills? No, we wanted Lou Marson. How better to crappily plug a hole until Santana wasn’t a Super 2 anymore. Nice.

I’ve tried to give Phil’s rebuilding and Manny Acta a shot. Any disdain at the start of the season would seem like wild, speculative, ‘post NFL draft like’ speculation. You got to see the guys play. We have.

So, back to the plan: we call up Carlos Santana and him and Grady and Choo waste away on a Triple A club until we trade them too? We pray LaPorta is for real and will show up soon, giving us 5 big leagers (Masterson has talent)? Maybe Fausto is an Ace? Oh boy.

Do we really like what Shapiro has mapped out so far? Maybe he’s not the guy. I think I know Acta isn’t.

I’ll say it again, what’s the real plan?




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