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3-for-3: A-Rod's Cousin, B. Roberts, F. Gonzalez

1. Well, that didn't take long. Alex Rodriguez's mysterious, anonymous drug-mule cousin (the best made-up nickname for him came courtesy of Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, who called him "Cousin It") now has a name: Yuri Sucart.

Welcome to your nightmare, Mr. Sucart.

2. Must say I'm surprised by the news of Brian Roberts' imminent four-year contract extension with the Orioles. For much of the past two years, Roberts was a constant (and willing) subject of trade rumors, making it clear to friends privately that a trade out of Baltimore couldn't happen soon enough to suit him. Since being called up in 2001, he had played for four managers and five GMs, and had a front-row view of the dysfunction that once gripped the Orioles' franchise.

But things have changed under the Andy MacPhail regime, and Roberts's about-face, from someone praying for a trade out of Baltimore to someone willing to sign back up for another four years, is perhaps the clearest signal yet that the Orioles' new direction is changing the perception of the team, from both inside and outside Camden Yards.

It also does not escape notice that the Orioles took the $140 million or so that they offered to Mark Teixeira, who ultimately signed with the Yankees, and spent it on re-upping their two best players, right fielder Nick Markakis and Roberts, with enough left over to bring in a handful of useful free agents from the outside.

3. The news of Fredi Gonzalez's two-year contract extension as manager of the Marlins deserves a mention here in Washington. Why? It serves the highlight the comparatively dicey future of Gonzalez's Washington counterpart, Manny Acta.

Back in 2007, Acta and Gonazlez were linked by their shared status as rookie managers in the NL East and their Hispanic heritage (at the time, there was only one other Latino, Ozzie Guillen, managing in the big leagues). Entering this spring, both essentially were in the final year of their respective deals (Acta's contract, though, contained a team option for 2009, which was picked up, and one for 2010, which has not been).

But here is where their fortunes diverge. While the Marlins clearly value Gonzalez's work enough to commit to two more years, the Nationals have chosen to let Acta dangle, his 2010 option still not exercised.

Let's be honest: If the Nationals valued Acta's work the way Marlins do Gonazlez's, he would have the security of knowing he was on board at least through 2010. Instead, there is a perception that he is managing for his job this year.

By Dave Sheinin  |  February 19, 2009; 7:25 AM ET
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Next: What Do the Braves Do Now?


Where's the love for Manny, Nats?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 19, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

This is strictly conjecture. But could the lack of action on Acta's contract have anything to do with more widespread changes within the organization? If the Lerners/Kasten were to make a change at the GM level, could not picking up Acta's option be an aspect of finding a new GM? The new GM would be brought on board with the ability to select his own manager. Now, that could be Acta but it also allows someone new to bring a guy in that fits their idea of what they want in a manager.

Posted by: Brian_ | February 19, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Well gee, Dave, didn't Fredi Gonzales and the Marlins just have a much better year than the Nationals, making it easier for them to extend his contract than it would be for the team with the worst record in baseball to do the same thing? How often does the manager of a 102-loss team get extended anyway, especially when his contract isn't even up yet? Imagine the outcry from yourself and everyone else in the local and National media if at the end of such a terrible season the Nationals had announced they were picking up Manny's 2010 option. I can see the headlines now: "Sad Sack Nationals Announce Continuation of Business as Usual." Don't deny it, that's EXACTLY how you guys would have spun that story.

Realistically, there was absolutely no way they could have extended Manny Acta's contract yet, no matter how much they (and apparently you) still love him, after a season like that. They gave him about the best vote of confidence they could have by firing his entire coaching staff but not firing him. Of course his job is on the line this year, but helloooo, every manager's job is on the line every year, no matter how many years they're still under contract for. It's always "what have you done for me lately?" Everyone knows that.

The Nationals have not chosen to let Acta dangle, you in the press have just chosen to play the story that way. Assuming the season doesn't start off as badly as last year, expect them to pick up his option very early on. And, as you say, let's be honest. If the season DOES start off like last year ended, you guys will be shifting gears and calling for his head immediately. Don't say you won't.

Posted by: nunof1 | February 19, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

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