Tag:Jim RIggleman
Posted on: June 28, 2011 1:33 am
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A handful of outtakes from Davey Johnson's first day back in the manager's chair since 2000:

-- The details: Johnson, who was working as a special assistant to general manager Mike Rizzo, is signed to a consulting contract through 2013 but has agreed to manage only through the end of this season. The thinking is, if things go well, he and Rizzo will assess things and Johnson could manage in 2012 and beyond. But right now, it's just for this year for two reasons: They will see how things go and, beyond that, the Nationals must comply with the Commissioner's directive for interviewing minority candidates. In other words, they can't hire somebody long term in-season (meaning: beyond this year) without also interviewing minorities.

-- Johnson is noticeably thinner than when he managed the Dodgers (1999-2000), the Orioles (1996-1997), the Reds (1993-1995) and even the Mets (1984-1990). He's overcome health issues (a ruptured appendix that nearly killed him in 2005, and he had a catheter inserted in a vein to the heart last February to correct an arrhythmic heartbeat. That, along with taking better care of himself.

"I've had a lot better eating habits," Johnson said. "I'm a lot lighter. We have a team nutritionist. I don't expect to balloon up to 200 pounds like I did in New York and other places."

-- With Johnson managing Monday, the Nationals now have had four managers in five days: Jim Riggleman last Thursday, John McLaren on Friday, hitting coach Trent Jewett on Friday after McLaren was ejected, and Johnson on Monday. Rizzo joked that he didn't even know who managed the team after McLaren's ejection. "I think there were about three coaches running things," the GM said.

-- Another odd stat: The Nationals have had two managers resign after victories over the past five days. The Nats won Thursday, after which Riggleman quit. Then McLaren left after Sunday's win out of loyalty to Riggleman.

-- Angels manager Mike Scioscia worked with Johnson during the spring of 1999 when Scioscia was on the Dodgers' staff as the Triple-A Albuquerque manager. "He has some incredible insight," Scioscia said. "He really studies the game. He understands what's important."

-- The fact that the Nationals have won 13 of 15, and two of three since Riggleman's resignation, is something the team is carrying with pride. "It shows the character of the team," Rizzo said. "Anybody can go through the smooth and easy times. But the test of character comes with the tough times, and this team has come through that with flying colors."

-- When McLaren came into the clubhouse after managing his final game Sunday, the Nationals gave him a standing ovation.

"He's a great baseball guy," Jerry Hairston Jr. said. "We have a lot of respect for him and what he endured. People don't realize that with the manager leaves, it doesn't just affect the players. It affects the coaches. Johnny Mac has his loyalty to Riggs, and that's why he decided he needed to leave. But Mac is a tremendous baseball man."

-- Following a 4-3 loss to the Angels in his Nationals' debut, Johnson said, "It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed every minute of it. There was a little bit of everything."

He may have enjoyed it even more had he two more relievers available. Closer Drew Storen was absent, attending his grandmother's funeral in Indiana (he's expected back for Tuesday night's game here). And Tyler Clippard was unavailable because of a "tired arm."

Likes: Wow, what a performance by Jim Leyland in getting the heave-ho Monday in Detroit. The Tigers manager got a standing ovation as he left the field. Make sure you check it out here. ... Joe Torre back in the Bronx for Old-Timers' Day. ... The Dodgers may be bankrupt, but not in the hits department. They got 24 in Monday's romp in Minnesota. ... Nothing says summer like the smell of a freshly mown lawn. ... Adele's latest disc, 21. Man, that voice is smoky and soulful. ... Hot Italian pizza in Sacramento. ... The breakfast burritos and the strong, excellent coffee (and everything else) at Pipes Café in Cardiff-By-The-Sea.

Dislikes: So, what, we're going to have a team in bankruptcy every summer? The Dodgers now, the Rangers last year.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Baby I have no story to be told
"But I’ve heard one of you and I’m gonna make your head burn"

-- Adele, Rolling in the Deep

 

Posted on: June 23, 2011 5:56 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 1:53 pm
 

McLaren "short-term" skipper, Johnson on deck?

Caught off-balance by manager Jim Riggleman's sudden resignation, the Nationals made a rare early exit from the Manager Search Freeway even before "interim."

While searching for an "interim manager", they've named a "short-term manager": Bench coach John McLaren.

Presumably, that means that McLaren's tenure will last anywhere from ... a day, to, a weekend?

General manager Mike Rizzo said earlier Thursday that he promised the team a manager would be in place Friday, when the Nats open a series in Chicago against the White Sox, and in naming McLaren, he keeps that promise.

As for a more permanent interim following Jim Riggleman's startling resignation, sources say, the Nationals will not name that man before Friday.

The Nationals have two men in the front office working as assistants to Rizzo with extensive managerial experience: Davey Johnson, the former New York Mets and Baltimore skipper, and Bob Boone, who has managed in Kansas City and Cincinnati.

Johnson in particular could lend immediate stability and respectability to a team that has won 11 of its past 12 games, including a three-game sweep of Seattle this week.

Named a  senior advisor to Rizzo in November, 2009, Johnson managed the New York Mets to the 1986 World Series title and was the American League manager of the year in Baltimore in 1997. He is one of only six living men to have won a World Series ring as both a player and a manager, along with Alvin Dark, Joe Girardi, Lou Piniella, Mike Scioscia and Red Schoendienst.

More relevant in recent years, Johnson managed Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, has managed or coached five different Team USA clubs since 2005, including the 2008 U.S. Olympic team that won the Bronze medal in Beijing.

In recent years, he has expressed interest in managing in the majors again.

And at 68, he's 12 years younger than "new" Florida manager Jack McKeon. So he's got that going for him.

Posted on: June 23, 2011 4:22 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 6:55 pm
 

Riggleman shocker: Resigns as Nationals manager

Until Thursday, long-time baseball man Jim Riggleman was always viewed as a mild-mannered, cooperative guy who is a terrific organizational man.

From his days managing San Diego (1992-1994) to his stint running the Cubs (1995-1999) to taking over as interim skipper in Seattle (2008) to doing the same in Washington (2009), Riggleman always was the responsible one. Quiet.

And then on an afternoon in June that long will be remembered for its shock value, as if taking a page right out of the upcoming movie Horrible Bosses, Riggleman told the Nationals to take their job and shove it.

So Riggleman becomes the second manager in four days to resign, following Florida's Edwin Rodriguez on Sunday.

"It's getting weird," an executive with one National League club said. "There's only 30 of these jobs. I mean, come on."

Unhappy with the way he's been treated with a 2012 option hanging out there but not picked up, and low-paid relative to other managers at that, Riggleman staged a stunning showdown with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo before Thursday's 1-0 win over Seattle.

Pick up my option, Rizzo says Riggleman told him, or I'm quitting after the game.

Riggleman's agent, Burton Rocks, says Riggleman simply was demanding a personal meeting with Rizzo.

"This all came as a big shock to me," Rocks told CBSSports.com. "Jim called me today and said the following: 'I know there's been an informal dialogue between you and ownership. All I've asked is for a personal meeting with Mike on a human level without anybody in the media knowing. I've been denied that request [in the past] and I'm going to try again.'"

Rocks said it bothered Riggleman because the manager felt he is "a man of his word." The agent said Riggleman phoned him after Thursday's game against Seattle and informed him that he had resigned.

At 58, Riggleman had seen enough. A month ago, he seemed on the brink of being fired -- or, at the very least, of losing the Nationals' clubhouse -- when outfielder Jayson Werth said "changes need to be made" with the Nationals in the midst of an 11-18 month of May.

Werth insisted he was not speaking of Riggleman, and the two met and supposedly cleared the air. Maybe they did.

Clearly, issues lingered in the manager's office.

Among them, as Riggleman chafed regarding the option: Riggleman was making $650,000 this year, according to sources, which ranks in the lower third of manager's salaries -- and, for a man who has managed parts of 12 major-league seasons, at the bottom. His 2012 option called for a $700,000 salary.

"He's a good guy," the NL executive said of Riggleman. "I mean, shoot. Amazing."

Stunning part of it all it, the Nationals lately have turned it around. They've won 11 of 12, and they swept the Mariners. At 38-37, they haven't been one game over .500 this late in the season since the second-to-last game of the 2005 campaign.

Clearly, Riggleman, felt momentum was on his side in picking now to press his case.

"I'm 58," he told reporters in Washington after the resignation. "I'm too old to be disrespected."

Though Rizzo removed the word "interim" from Riggleman's title following the 2009 season and made him the permanent manager, that didn't change the perception that Riggleman was little more than a place-holder to help school Washington's younger players as they gained experience.

The thinking always was that Riggleman would only bring the Nationals to a certain point, and that when they were ready to win, someone else would be handed the keys to the car.

Thursday's shocking events, in which Rizzo said he just did not feel the timing was right to pick up Riggleman's 2012 option, pretty much confirmed that belief.

Another potential point of anxiety might have been the large shadow cast by Buck Showalter's managing not far away in Baltimore. Some people close to the Nationals thought that Showalter's presence as the face of the Orioles -- billboards in the area, television ads, etc. -- made Washington ownership want a bigger name, "celebrity" manager like Showalter.

Perhaps Riggleman sensed that same thing.

At any rate, the timing remains stunning. The Nationals have some good, young players in Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, Roger Bernadina and closer Drew Storen, and phenom Stephen Strasburg should return next year.

And Riggleman, while not a superstar manager, has proven himself capable. Having guided the Nats to 11 wins in their past 12 games, Riggleman could have forced the Nationals to pick up his 2012 option by building on their current success.

Instead, he spectacularly blew up his career as a skipper, probably for good.

Rizzo, who professed to being "surprised and disappointed", issued a seven-paragraph statement shredding Riggleman afterward. Among other things, Rizzo's statement said, "I was always taught that one of the cardinal rules of baseball was that no individual can put his interests before those of the team."

Managing is a tough job, and anyone who questions that need only look at the wear and tear on Jim Riggleman, the quiet one, the responsible one, the man nobody would have predicted would issue ultimatums ... and then follow through.

Posted on: March 2, 2011 1:50 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 2:00 pm
 

Nyjer Morgan: 'I'm a valuable piece of this team'

VIERA, Fla. -- Nyjer Morgan didn't so much disappoint last summer as deliver a spectacular train wreck of a disappointment.

Bad enough that his on-base percentage dropped to .310 from .360 in '09, and that his batting average plummeted 54 points, from to .253 from .307.

But what made him toxic was his whacked-out behavior on the field late in the season, from earning a suspension when he threw a baseball into the stands in Philadelphia and hit a fan in the head to the ugliness of a brawl with the Marlins that traced back to the night before, when he bowled over catcher Brett Hayes on a play at the plate that was viewed as dirty. Hayes separated his shoulder in the collision. And this came after he ran over St. Louis catcher Brian Anderson -- "unecessarily", in major league baseball's eyes.

He wound up suspended a total of 15 games in September for a combination of these incidents. After a hearing, it was reduced to eight.

In center field and in the leadoff role in 2011, Morgan will be a huge help to the Washington Nationals if he can revert to anything close to his performance when they acquired him from Pittsburgh in the second-half of '09 (he hit .351 with a .396 on-base percentage in 49 games for the Nats then).

But he will be lucky to make it out of spring training with the club if he reverts to anything close to the unbalanced outfielder he was last August and September.

"I'm a valuable piece to this team," Morgan said during a long conversation the other day. "I know what I'm capable of doing.

"If I do it right, I'm definitely one of the top leadoff hitters in the game. If I do what I did last year, I'm not going to help this organization become a winning organization."

Morgan, 30, explained that last season he "had a bunch of s--- on my table, some personal stuff. My own personal stuff. ... I had a rough stretch. I had a month that was rough. You live and learn off of your mistakes."

He declined to explain what "personal stuff" he had going that could have caused such outrageous behavior.

"I had my downs last year," Morgan said. "The year before I had my ups.

"Now I'm a little older, a little wiser. I can see things coming now instead of just reacting and being immature."

Part of what he says he can see coming is right in his own organization.

"If I don't do what I'm supposed to do, I'm going to be on the damn bench," he said. "It's a no-brainer. They don't want that s--- from last year. They want the player I was in '09.

"I got that. I'm definitely all aboard."

The Nationals sure hope so.

So far?

"He's been outstanding," manager Jim Riggleman said, noting that Morgan has been especially receptive to early instruction from hitting coach Rick Eckstein and outfield coach Bo Porter. "He's got a lot of bounce in his step and a smile on his face. He's working hard."

Morgan promises that will continue.

"My head was a little swollen last year, I ain't going to lie to you," he said.

He also feels he's in a good place because he had a full winter of workouts -- starting two weeks after the season ended -- as opposed to two winters ago, when he was limited following the broken had that ended his '09 season in August.

"I want to prove to myself and to the organization that the player in '09 is who they're going to get in '11, instead of the immature player from '10," Morgan said. "I left Tony Plush behind."

Tony Plush?

"Tony Plush," he said, grinning. "That's [an alter ego] from back in the day. Me and my friend. It's like Jekyll and Hyde.

"It got to the point where it was time to grow up. It's time to turn into a true professional. It's time to kick some ass."

 

Posted on: May 28, 2010 11:16 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2010 12:36 am
 

Nationals play Friday's game under protest

Bizarre moment in Friday night's Washington-San Diego game when the Nationals lodged a protest midway through the first inning because the Padres had erroneously listed Adam Russell as the starting pitcher on the lineup card instead of Clayton Richard.

Richard had worked a 1-2-3 first when Nationals manager Jim Riggleman called the Padres on the mistake. Umpires then accepted the protest for an "unannounced substitution", which would be moot if the Nationals win.

It could have gotten dicey had the Padres won because the Nats appeared to have the Padres stone cold. Alas, Washington beat San Diego 5-3 with Matt Capps earning his major-league leading 17th save.

Had the Padres won, a baseball official said Friday night, one of two things likely could have happened:

The protest could be upheld and the game would have to be replayed from the middle of the first.

Or, the league could deny the protest, most likely on the grounds that the pitcher's spot in the batting order had not yet come up and it was clear who was pitching for the Padres.

Being that protests are very rarely upheld, the latter is the most likely scenario.

To find the last protest upheld in the National League, you have to go back to a Pittsburgh-St. Louis game in June, 1986, when then-NL president Chub Feeney upheld the Pirates' protest that umpire John Kibler improperly called a game prematurely on account of rain.

On that night, there were two rain delays. The first totaled 17 minutes, then the game resumed for only two pitches before another rain delay of 22 minutes. Then the game was called with the Pirates losing 4-1. NL rules called for umpires to wait at least 75 minutes during the first rain delay and 45 minutes during a second delay before calling the game.

The last AL protest that was upheld was in the infamous Pine Tar Game between Kansas City and the Yankees in July, 1983.

 

Posted on: February 24, 2010 4:47 pm
 

Sliding feet first with Nyjer Morgan, + Strasburg

VIERA, Fla. -- On the other side of the Stephen Strasburg Watch here -- and I'll get to that in a minute, because the kid is DEFINITELY worth watching -- the Nationals, believe it or not, actually are spending time on a few other things.

One of those is teaching outfielder Nyjer Morgan -- and others -- how to slide feet first.

If you've ever been one of those guys (or gals) watching a game when a player injures himself sliding head first into a base and you're reaction is, "Why do they risk getting hurt by doing that?!", then Nationals manager Jim Riggleman is going to be your kind of skipper.

Morgan missed the final 34 games of the season last summer when he broke his right hand sliding headfirst into third base against the Chicago Cubs in late August. To that point, he had been terrific in Washington, hitting .351 with 24 thefts.

The Nats were a completely different team with him gone, going 13-21 to finish the season.

Thus, this spring's project. Riggleman is the point man and his coaching staff is right there with him.

"Collectively, we're all encouraging it, and he's all on board," Riggleman says. "He was coming into camp saying, 'I've got to do this.' We want to get it done before games start."

Morgan isn't alone. Outfielder Justin Maxwell and anybody else who fancies sliding head-first is being asked to change, too.

"Our message to the guys, not just Nyjer, is, we'd like to get you to go feet first," Riggleman says. "If it's causing more problems than it's solving and you can't do it, then OK. But we've got to give it an effort."

Riggleman, an old school baseball guy, has made sliding feet first his pet project before in other places at other times.

"It's been an emphasis for me, personally," Riggleman says. "When I was the Cardinals' minor-league field coordinator, I asked my bosses and received permission to institute it throughout the system. From the '05 draft on, it was mandatory: You slide feet first.

"From the day they were drafted, we got them off of the plane and it was, 'Hello, how are you doing? You're going to slide feet first.'"

Riggleman says that Pete Rose always has been one of his favorite players, but he thinks a "generation" of players has grown up not knowing how to slide because everybody was too busy imitating Rose, figuring that headfirst slides are one way to show you're hustling.

Morgan, who grew into the Nats' sparkplug after they acquired him from Pittsburgh last summer, has been looking fairly natural going into the base with his feet, Riggleman says.

*****

Now, Strasburg.

I stopped in Viera on Tuesday while driving across the state, just in time for the top overall draft pick from last summer to throw his second bullpen of the spring.

And?

"I thought he threw good the other day," Riggleman said. "Today was off-the-charts good."

Only after a rocky beginning, though, because, truth be told, even the kid who is being talked about as possibly the greatest pitching prospect ever in the draft isn't completely built of steel. For a second, he buckled when he saw who was catching him: Pudge Rodriguez.

"It was a little nerve-wracking at first," Strasburg said. "He's a future Hall of Famer. I was thinking, 'Don't throw one at his ankles first pitch' and, sure enough, I did."

The nerves didn't last long, and Strasburg recovered quickly enough to go off the charts, in Riggleman's words.

In Strasburg's words, he learned a few things from Rodriguez during the bullpen session. He said Pudge worked with him on his sinker and changeup, suggesting a few approaches such as working both sides of the plate with the changeup rather than just the "arm side."

In college at San Diego State, Strasburg said, because of the aluminum bats, "the changeup is only a pitch you throw to left-handers." But with wood bats and precise execution, he said, that pitch should be one he is able to develop and throw to right-handers in the pros.

Already, he throws a four-seam fastball that touches 100 m.p.h., the change-up (clocked around 90), and a breaking ball in the high-80s and the sinker. He's been working with a circle-change as well, and he says he's getting some "good, consistent sink" on it.

Conventional wisdom still has Strasburg, 21, opening the season in the minors -- probably Class A Potomac, because it's Virginia (Woodbridge) location offers better weather than the colder early season conditions at Double-A Harrisburg (Pa.) or Triple-A Syracuse (N.Y.).

Sunblock Day: Not really. Gray skies and rain have moved back in, and the forecast for this weekend in central Florida is for chilly temps in the 50s and low 60s. Ugh.

Likes: Under general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Jim Riggleman, there is a decidedly different air in Nationals camp this spring. It's by far the most professional atmosphere I've seen since the club moved to D.C. for the 2005 season. I'm not saying they're ready to contend, but I think they've got the right people in place in management and some really good young talent. Strasburg and Drew Storen, the club's future closer who also was a first-round pick last year, both are wickedly talented and have outstanding character. ... My favorite transaction of the spring so far is Jack Curry to the YES Network. Curry, the former New York Timesman who took the buyout, has too much to offer to disappear into the sunset. ... Didn't stop for Gator Jerky while whizzing past the stand on the Bee Line Expressway here the other day, but thought about it. ... Great steak the other night at Runyon's in Coral Springs, Fla., with one of my all-time favorite editors, Craig Stanke.

Dislikes: There's a dead fish in the parking lot of my hotel. A smallish guy, just laying there, all dried up and disgusting. Head on, eye looking up, the whole shebang.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I got a part-time job at my father's carpet store
"Laying tackless stripping, and housewives by the score
"I loaded up their furniture, and took it to Spokane
"And auctioned off every last naugahyde divan
"I'm very well aquainted with the seven deadly sins
"I keep a busy schedule trying to fit them in
"I'm proud to be a glutton, and I don't have time for sloth
"I'm greedy, and I'm angry, and I don't care who I cross"

-- Warren Zevon, Mr. Bad Example

Posted on: November 12, 2009 12:19 am
 

Riggleman no longer 'In Case of Emergency' guy

Jim Riggleman is a good man and a true professional. He isn't flamboyant, there's no controversy in him and his hiring isn't going to spike Washington Nationals ticket sales, at least not until Stephen Strasburg joins the rotation, Ryan Zimmerman gets some help and the Nats start to win.

But what's important to know when the Nationals officially name Riggleman as their manager on Thursday is this:

The guy he replaced last summer, Manny Acta, was actually turning down managerial gigs a couple of weeks ago, telling Houston "no thanks" so he could accept Cleveland's offer.

And under Acta last summer, the Nationals went 26-61, a .299 winning percentage. Under Riggleman after Acta was fired, they went 33-42, a .440 winning percentage.

Same team.

Maybe Riggleman never will be the next Sparky Anderson, but knowing what we know about what transpired in Washington over the summer and in Houston and Cleveland this fall with Acta, there is no question that Riggleman is qualified and capable.

Until now, as I wrote here in September, Riggleman was settling nicely -- but not necessarily willingly -- into a career as the "In Case of Emergency" guy.

Having previously managed San Diego and the Cubs, Riggleman became interim manager in Seattle in 2008 after Mike Hargrove left. And he was named interim manager of the Nats in '09 after Acta was fired.

"There's a new feeling of professionalism in the clubhouse," Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told me when we were discussing Riggleman in September. "Guys are accountable now for how they handle themselves."

It's easy to get labeled in this game, and next to impossible to shed that label once you've got it. Credit Rizzo, a new GM himself, for having the guts to make his own decision on his own man and not steering away from Riggleman because of how some might have perceived him.

Rizzo said in September that he wasn't necessarily looking for a marquee guy and, true to his word, he left Bobby Valentine stranded at ESPN's Baseball Tonight desk in choosing Riggleman.

That surely will make a few managers who find themselves on the hot seat early in 2010 very uncomfortable, because Valentine is a sexy name who will be linked to nearly every fluid managerial situation.

Riggleman is not a sexy name. But he's a solid manager, a good teacher, a guy who obviously commanded respect in the Nationals clubhouse last summer.

In other words, exactly the kind of manager the Nats need right now.

Likes: Ken Griffey Jr. back for another year in Seattle. No, he's not the same player he was, but he made a serious difference in the Mariners clubhouse last year, especially in bridging what was a pretty good gap between Ichiro Suzuki and many of his teammates. ... You bet catcher Jason Varitek exercised his player option with Boston on Wednesday. Where else was he going to go? ... Good luck to my Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central Falcons, who host Manchester in a big playoff game Friday night. Go get 'em, guys. ... Geno's East deep dish pizza in Chicago. The Meaty Legend we had the other night -- sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon and bacon -- was nothing short of sensational.

Dislikes: Airport hotels. ... Man, I hate to see Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band wrapping up nearly two years on the road. The current tour ends Nov. 22 in Buffalo, and the whole thing has a feeling of finality to it right now. Sure am glad I've got one more show on the docket before they go on hiatus.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"God have mercy on the man
"Who doubts what he's sure of"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Brilliant Disguise

Posted on: October 25, 2009 4:09 pm
 

Indians act: Acta new skipper


The Indians have hired Manny Acta as manager, which clearly means one of two things:

Either Cleveland knows something Washington didn't.

Or the Nationals were more of a bottomless pit than even they knew.

There isn't much middle ground, is there? Battling two seriously disappointing seasons in the past three years, a restless fan base and declining attendance, the Indians have hired a man with a .385 career winning percentage as a manager. Acta went 158-252 in just under three seasons as manager of the Nationals.

Acta always has been a respected baseball man, and many within the industry know that the Nationals' problems went far beyond the manager's chair the past couple of seasons.

Yet, the Nats showed enough improvement under interim manager Jim Riggleman after they fired Acta that they continue to view Riggleman as a legitimate candidate for their full-time manager's job.

Under Riggleman in 2009, the Nats played .440 ball, going 33-42.

Under Acta in '09, the Nats played .229 ball, going 26-61.

And yet ... Acta reportedly was among the three finalists in Houston as well, along with former Astros skipper Phil Garner and Boston bench coach Brad Mills.

Clearly, Acta, despite the Nationals' belly flop, immediately is a man in demand on the managerial circuit this winter.

The Indians signed him to a three-year deal after also interviewing Bobby Valentine and minor-league skipper Torey Lovullo last week. They had intended to interview Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly later this week.

So which is it?

Acta, 40, under-managed an already hopelessly over-matched team?

Or Acta has enough managerial chops to overcome even the Nationals' taint?

The Indians have committed themselves to finding out.

And one way or the other, I have a feeling, in the end, there won't be much middle ground here, either.

***

One other note on Acta: Even with a .385 career winning percentage, he's still the most winning major-league manager the Indians have hired since John McNamara in 1990.

That's because, as the legendary Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer points out, since the Indians fired Alvin Dark in 1970, they've hired a manager with major-league experience only three other times: Dave Garcia (1979-1983), Pat Corrales (1983-1987) and McNamara (1990-1991).

Since McNamara, the Indians had hired three consecutive managers with no major-league managing experience in Mike Hargrove (1992), Charlie Manuel (2000) and Eric Wedge (2003).

 
 
 
 
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