Sunday, October 25, 2009
Random and useless thoughts on the Manny Acta hiringPosted by Chris Jaffe
Apparently, the Indians hired a new manager: Manny Acta, formerly of the Nationals. First thought: This is both a testament to what the Indians think of him and how little they think of the Nationals' major league talent. It isn't every day a manager with a .385 winning percentage with his first team gets hired by a second team.
(Looks it up.) In fact, Acta's .385 winning percentage is the worst winning percentage by anyone hired to manage the Indians in his pre-Cleveland MLB career. (The previous record holder was Bobby Bragan, who went .397 with the 1956-57 Pirates before the Indians hired him in 1958. He only lasted a year in Cleveland.
I guess this means the Indians aren't going the old Billy Martin-Bob Lemon route where you exchange a fiery manager with a laid back one. I don't follow the Indians or Nationals closely at all, but I've heard Wedge was supposed to be a first-class guy and what I know of Acta is that he's also a nice guy.
Also, this is the first time in almost 20 years the Indians hired someone with previous major league managerial experience. Their previous hires were Eric Wedge, Joel Skinner, Charlie Manuel and Mike Hargrove. You have to go back to John McNamara to find a previous experienced skipper. (Actually, Cleveland has historically hired newbie skippers. They're rarely great but they've given a ton of new blood a shot - including Manuel, Hargrove, Jeff Torborg, Frank Robinson, Joe Gordon, Al Lopez, Lou Boudreau, Steve O'Neill, Tris Speaker, Lee Fohl, Nap Lajoie, Bill Armou, and Jimmy McAleer. Hey, I said the were rarely great.)
They Indians may be breaking with tradition by going with someone experienced, but they're staying with recent precedent by going with someone young. Even though he'd been on the job for seven years, Wedge was the A.L.'s youngest manager on the day he was fired. As of now, Acta is the youngest.
From the Department of Dammit, I Looked It Up, So You're Going to See it: Here are the birthdays for all 14 A.L. skippers, from oldest to Acta-est (divided into fives for easy-to-read-ness):
March 17, 1944 Cito Gaston
Dec. 15, 1944 Jim Leyland
Oct. 31, 1951 Dave Trembley
April 29, 1952 Ron Washington
Sept. 19, 1954 Joe Maddon
Oct. 24, 1957 Ron Gardenhire
Nov. 27, 1958 Mike Scioscia
April 22, 1959 Terry Francona
Sept. 22, 1961 Bob Geren
Jan. 4, 1963 Trey Hillman
Feb. 22, 1963 Don Wakamatsu
Jan. 20, 1964 Ozzie Guillen
Oct. 14, 1964 Joe Girardi
Jan. 11, 1969 Manny Acta
I had no idea Joe Maddon was that old.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.