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.
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).