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Indians Fire Manny Acta with Six Games Remaining, Sandy Alomar Jr. Named Interim Manager

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Riding high after two straight wins against the Chicago White Sox that knocked them out of first place in the American League Central Division, the Cleveland Indians have canned manager Manny Acta and named bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. their interim manager for the remaining six games of the season. The decision is baffling to me considering the Indians’ front office has had multiple opportunities to fire Acta this season, such as when the team was in the throes of one of their eleven-game losing streaks, or when they went 5-24 for the month of August. Instead, the Indians let Acta go following two of the biggest wins for the club in the second half of the season, and with a mere six games left in what has become a miserable season in Downtown Cleveland.

Acta was heralded as a hero last season, taking his ball club from a team that expected to contend in two to three years to the top of the Central Division, a spot that they held for the majority of the season. Unfortunately for Acta, too many injuries reared their ugly heads into the 2011 ball club, and they did not have the depth to react fast enough to stay in the playoff hunt, falling into a funk in mid-August and limped through the end of the season finishing with an 80-82 record. It was a far-cry from his first season with the ball club when the Indians went 69-93 in 2010.

This season however, Acta fielded a ball club that simply refused to live up to its expectations from day one. The Indians lost a heartbreaking season opener in 16 innings when their bullpen couldn’t finish what pitcher Justin Masterson had started, and it set the tone for the rest of the year. Even though the Indians managed to get hot in April and May, by June they were showing signs of trouble, and by July they were all but done. The injury bug didn’t help Acta this year either, with centerfielder Grady Sizemore never taking the field a single day for the club and designated hitter Travis Hafner making multiple trips to the DL for the fourth straight season. Acta also received an abysmal performance from nearly every hitter on his ball club, and his starting rotation crashed and burned as well with potential aces Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez leading the club in losses.

In the end despite all of the issues that the Indians had on the field this season, the thing that got Acta fired was his laid-back, wait-and-see approach to managing the ball club through these troubled times. Even when everyone else in the world could see that the club was in serious trouble and that certain players needed to step it up, Acta would approach each loss with a “we fought hard” kind of attitude that didn’t sit well with the fans who could clearly see that the ball club didn’t fight very hard at all. Acta finished his tenure with the ball club on Wednesday night with a 65-91 record this season, and a 214-266 record overall. Whether or not he will ever get another opportunity to manage in the big leagues remains to be seen, but given his first job in Washington ended in similar fashion, it might be hard for a ball club to take a chance on him again.

The Indians will now have to find a replacement for Acta in the offseason. GM Chris Antonetti has stated that the search for his replacement will begin immediately and that there are several candidates in line for the job. Certainly Sandy Alomar Jr. is one of those candidates, and how the team responds over the final six games of the season could determine whether or not he is ready to take the next step up the coaching ladder in the big leagues. Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona is rumored to be a person that the ball club is interested in as well, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them pursue Tony Pena of the Yankees either. Acta had one year left on his contract thanks to the extension the Indians gave him following last season’s performance. While some fans had hoped that both Team President Mark Shapiro and GM Antonetti would also be on the chopping block following this season, the Indians have announced that both men will return in their respective roles for the 2013 season.

 

 

By Robert Gonzalez
Cleveland Indians Correspondent


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