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Change, In Several Forms

* Manny Acta said today that some on his coaching staff will not be back next season. "Changes are going to be made," Acta said. The manager did not specify which of his assistants would be let go, and said the team was not yet ready to make an announcement. Such a determination, though, marks the first sign of change entering the offseason; last year, at this same time, Acta met with General Manager Jim Bowden and several other front office members and emerged from the meeting by announcing that everybody on his staff would return. All of Acta's assistants have been with the team for at least two years. One team official called the staff the "worst in baseball."

* The scoreboard here at Citizens Bank just advertised a Phillies DVD... with... (get this!)... a bonus DVD featuring video of the Veterans Stadium implosion.

* Ryan Zimmerman isn't in the starting lineup tonight, but he's recovering from his flu, and should be available to play tomorrow.

* Last year, like now, the Nats came into Philly for the final series of the year, happy to have a hand in determining the National League playoff series. Just one thing: This is no replicate scenario. The players with a hand in the outcome last year aren't anything like the players this year.

By my quick count, only seven of Washington's 32 active players tonight were on the team last year: Ryan Zimmerman, Cristian Guzman, Ryan Langerhans, Joel Hanrahan, Jesus Colome, Saul Rivera and Jason Bergmann.

Not a single person in tonight's Washington starting lineup started in the final series last year.

When I mentioned this to Bergmann, who started the final game last season, he tried to recall last year's final Starting 9.

"Well," he began, "the starting lineup last year was Wily Mo... Nook Logan? Center field last year was probably Nook... Kearns... Dmitri Young didn't play last year in the last month... Fick was at first... Ronnie at second... Felipe at short... Ryan at third... I started the last game... and Schneider probably caught the last game. Oh, and Ryan Church played somewhere -- probably center. Damn, that's crazy... And look at our bullpen: Rauch, Cordero. The only guys left from the bullpen are Colome and Rivera."

OK, well he missed on a few. Here was Washington's final lineup last year against Philly:

Felipe Lopez - 6
Ronnie Belliard - 4
Ryan Zimmerman - 5
Dmitri Young - 3
Austin Kearns - 9
Wily Mo Pena - 7
Jesus Flores - 2
Justin Maxwell - 8
Jason Bergmann - 1

By Chico Harlan  |  September 26, 2008; 7:01 PM ET
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Next: Exit Notes From A Loud Night In Philly


and the nationals again play from behind.

Posted by: natsscribe | September 26, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Change with the staff can only be a good thing. Complacency with a bad team sends the wrong message.

Unfortunately, I don't get to see the games but from the tone of the board, the 3rd Base coach must go.

I'd also like to see a hitting coach who will coach to a player's strengths. Of course, work on the weaknesses but from what is said here on the board, there was never a consistent game plan and the players were always trying to hit the other way.

I've coached a long time (albeit basketball) and know that you go with your player's strengths and try to get them in situations where they will succeed.

Posted by: Expos Fan | September 26, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

it is my fervent wish that next season i don't hear lenny harris mouthing hollow platitudes to nats hitters. the last few home games, lenny strategically stood near a dugout-level crowd mike where he could be heard in the background of radio broadcasts. lenny, if they're still nats without bats at this stage of the season - shut up. maybe "hold 'em tim" tolman will also be headed out of the door. think maybe corrales retires?

Posted by: natsscribe | September 26, 2008 8:12 PM | Report abuse

What the Nats don't need is a "big name" hitting coach who is used to working with veteran major leaguers. What they need is someone patient who has a solid minor-league background who can help young hitters build their offensive foundations. They need a hitting coach who will drag guys out to the cage everyday if necessary to drill fundamentals. Lenny Harris was a hackmaster during his career who didn't hit for power, didn't walk and didn't get on base. Why is anyone surprised that the Nats' hitters are a reflection of their coach?

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 26, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

My guess would be Lenny Harris and Tim Tolman.

Posted by: misschatter | September 26, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Responding to the favorite moments question from Chico:

-- Belly's walk-off to beat the O's, I'm with Manny all the way on that one!

-- Opening Night and Zim's walk-off!

-- The 10-9 win over St. Louis on the Dukes 10th inn. walk-off HR

-- Flores hit to beat the Angels, another walk-off win!

-- The 8-1 home stand, with two sweeps - I saw the "sweep" games over LA and Atl.

But the Post I paste below is my favorite Post. It shows why, no matter how bad it gets, the reason baseball's return to D.C. means so much to me:

"I said, "It's all set up for a Zimmerman walk-off."
When Zim hit it out, I experienced one of my happiest moments as a father. My son jumped up and down and said, "Thank you, thank you, Dad. This is the best birthday present I could ever ask for. I've always wanted to see Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run!"
One of our section-mates graciously took a photo of the two of us. I took that photo and his ticket stub, and I had them framed together with the Post's first-pitch poster."

Posted by: Steve | September 26, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse


You make sense.

Looks like my season long call for changes in coaching staff is coming......AT will it be just Harris or will it be a whole sale change all along the player development ladder?

I would not even be surprised to see Acta go by May 2009 if Fundamentals do not get the proper focus in Spring Training. Acta has done a very poor job this year with getting the most out of his players and instilling some acceptable level of professionalism and accountability for learning the game. Nobody has been made an example of and thus nobody has improved his focus on the field… many outs are there many runners get picked off……Bad baseball this year. This was the Focus of this coaching did that work out?

Posted by: JayB | September 26, 2008 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Chico Says.........All of Acta's assistants have been with the team for at least two years. One team official called the staff the "worst in baseball."

Love this late to the party reporting.....Blow hard ABM, 419+1 and Ray King’s Gut Feeling have been telling us how great Acta and his staff are at there jobs and how it the coaches are not accountable for teaching players or anything for that matter.....well is that so.......but like so many of the points made here by so many posters about the mess this organization is in nothing is done until 100 loses… did not need to be this way.

Posted by: JayB | September 26, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

So, let me get this straight. Now that the change will be happening, JayB is still not happy?

Posted by: Silent Majority | September 26, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Are you happy we had to be this bad to get some action.....this coaching problem has been here from early you not recall Tolman errors every week at the start of 2007 and how hard was it to ID Harris as someone who was over his head, give he NEVER HAD DONE THE JOB....oh that was hard.

Posted by: JayB | September 26, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

JayB says "Blow hard ABM, 419+1 and Ray King’s Gut Feeling have been telling us how great Acta and his staff are at there jobs", but I don't recall any of those three guys ever defending anyone but Acta. I believe they've been totally silent on the coaching staff. And I do believe Acta will be back, despite JayB's dislike of him.

And JayB will never be happy until the clock is rolled back and every slacker who ever was is sat down for every mental lapse, yet somehow a team with no players left on the field still manages to win all its games. Which is to say, JayB will never be happy.

Posted by: blowin' hard, but blowin' smoke | September 26, 2008 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Maybe some of the dismissed staffers can take Bowden with them.

Posted by: DJ | September 26, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

I engaged in some minor Boz bashing earlier today responding to his chat in which he addressed a question about the Potomac Nationals coverage. As I re-read his comments I withdraw my comments. He did not mean to say that he had not HEARD of the PNats, I believe he was making the point that the level of interest in the team is just now emerging. He is right. Small pockets of us have followed them for some time, but the general public is only mildly interested.

Posted by: NatBisquit | September 26, 2008 11:27 PM | Report abuse

over here, people!

Posted by: new post | September 26, 2008 11:43 PM | Report abuse

The only dysfunctional thing about the coaching purge is that Acta is announcing that other coaches and not himself are leaving. If Bowden fired Acta, he'd be admitting that he made a mistake, so it's easier to fire the underlings and keep his prize choice to hold onto his own job. He's merely trying to prove to management that he can win with Acta, it has very little to do with bettering the team. Obviously it wouldn't hurt to get rid of specific coaches, but the problem emanates from Acta's passiveness, general lack of intelligence and maturity. But here again, Bowden does things for selfish reasons, because if he fired the whole damned staff including Acta, then the bullseye would be pointed directly at him, and that's the last thing he wants. He'll blame injuries, salary slots, inexperience - anything but himself. Jim Bowden is cancer and Acta is merely a symptom of it. 100+ losses? Yeah let's fire the hitting coach and the guy that waves too many people in from third because they can't manufacture runs and they're desperate to score.

Posted by: Brue | September 27, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

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