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Morning Reading

We've got some part and parcel thoughts on and from Manny Acta. First of all, read Boswell's column, where he writes that "Acta's managerial style during games -- a blend of Torre, Mahatma Gandhi and a petrified pillar of salt -- just isn't what fans want to see when a team is 13-33." Meantime, I try to shed some light on why Acta is able to (and wants to) remain so composed, even as his team slips. He admits he's managing with his job on the line. He just doesn't think that is anything new.

While we're at it, here are a few other links from around the seamhead world...

The Marlins, according to this report, might have an interest in Daniel Cabrera. Hopefully those in Miami already have their prescription painkillers at hand.

With Brett Myers likely out 3-4 months, the Phillies, like the Mets, are getting hit hard by injuries. (Say what you want about the Nats, but their injury problems have been tame by comparison.)

Class AAA Syracuse, reliever Tyler Clippard has a 7-1/3-scoreless innings streak and a 1.32 ERA.

By Chico Harlan  |  May 29, 2009; 9:28 AM ET
 
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Next: Strasburg to Start Tonight for SDSU

Comments

Anyone know when Flores and Dukes are back? This offense needs a kick in the pants. Not to mention the fielding and pitching. And baserunning. And coaching. Oh crud.

Posted by: NatsDLite | May 29, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I think Flores is back today.

Posted by: FloresFan | May 29, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Chico,

Manny's patience is great. I also think it is great that he doesn't get too high or too low because baseball is a long season and you are playing everyday. However, doesn't he think that "discussing" call is also part of the strategy of the game? As I have said, you don't need to act like a fool, but you need to go out there and ask questions and stand up for your players. He doesn't come out of the dugout in most situations. How can you not come out of the dugout to ask the umps how they could reverse that call or come out when Dunn starts talking to the ump (as Boz stated). Then there is a questionable balk call and he remains in the dugout. No one thought it was a balk. He needs to go out there and ask the ump what he did to get that call and protect his player. Maybe if he argued on Monday night they wouldn't have reversed the call on Wed. However, you will never know because he stayed in the dugout. I understand that he thinks arguring doesn't help, and I disagree, but what about just asking the normal questions. Patience and having an even balance is great for the players etc, but you sometimes need that intensity to show the players you are fighting for them and really care.

Posted by: brothbart | May 29, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

A thoughtful philosophy, conviction, and consistency are all wonderful attributes. However, it is akin to standing stoically with foot on the bow, jaw set, and eyes forward while the ship sinks slowly and water eventually swirls rup the torso, around the shoulders and finally envelopes the head leaving only the captain's hat floating lazily on the surface of the water.

It is noble not to panic, it is admirable to maintain one's dignity to the very end, but at the end of the day (season), you are no less dead.

Panic and flailing of arms is an unsightly and undignified thing -- and it is about time we have some.

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 29, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Clippard definitely deserves a call-up sometime soon, but unfortunately I doubt he will be much better than the guys we have up here right now. Plenty of AAA pitchers have thrown scoreless innings and then been bombed once they got called up, hopefully Clippard isn't one of him. At least he can't be worse than the options we currently have (or could he?).

Posted by: johnny_blaze | May 29, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Panic and flailing of arms is an unsightly and undignified thing -- and it is about time we have some.

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 29, 2009 9:50 AM
_____________________________________________________________

Excellent natbiscuits. I agree completely

My early nominee for Post of The Day.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 29, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Good reading! Thanks

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | May 29, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Manny overlearned his lesson in the minors. For sure, bad outbursts aren't successful. But arguments with a purpose can certainly be effective over the long haul. Just because he learned that dumb tantrums don't work doesn't mean that smart tantrums can't help. Especially when your team is stinking up the joint.

There's real value in convention, especially in a sport with so much tradition and so many unwritten rules - a manager is supposed to "back up his players" according to how the game is played, and I don't think Manny helps by publicly failing to do so. He may be great in the clubhouse, but public perception is also important.

Along the same lines, Rizzo's nasty and mean insults of Shell and Cabrera are also out of line in the other direction. We got rid of one GM without any class, looks like we got another one. Arrogance is even more ugly than passivity.

Geezer

Posted by: utec | May 29, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Why look to Manny for panic and flailing of arms? You can have all of that you could possibly want right here in NJ after any loss. Or during any win that looks iffy in the beginning.

Posted by: joebleux | May 29, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Eh, I object. I don't believe panic and arm flailing is ever a good thing. In fact, the flailing arms of the bullpen have been responsible for the badness we've seen thus far. Some people with a healthy mentality would be a huge bonus there.

Posted by: Section506 | May 29, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

alas, our ramblings here on NJ have very little impact on the club, while interjecting passion, emotion, and a degree of desparation would likely have some positive impact. It certainly isn't going to make the team lose more. Right now the team has a reasonable chance of getting through June with less than 20 wins. If that happens while leadership remains calm, I think we could all agree that dignity and grace might be a little over-rated.

Posted by: natbiscuits | May 29, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I clearly haven't been paying close enough attention - when did Rizzo insult Shell and Cabrera?

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | May 29, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I'm guessing the Phillies are in the market for a pitcher? Any interest in Scott Olsen?

Posted by: fischy | May 29, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Insulted them after releasing them - he said "I got tired of watching him" of Cabrera, and flamed Shell's mental approach including his "aura." At work, don't have time to find the link - only have time for research-free opinions.
Geezer

Posted by: utec | May 29, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm with utec. I appreciate that Manny doesn't toss bases and kick dirt, but I don't understand why he can't come out of the dugout and ask a few questions. "Are you sure there was indisputable evidence to overturn the call?" "You say it was a tough call -- doesn't that automatically make it 'disputable'?" You don't have to get ejected, but you at least deserve (and should desire) an explanation.

Posted by: Bethesdangit | May 29, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

When you're young, you see behaviors in black-or-white terms; "I don't want to be a Billy Martin/Earl Weaver maniac, so I will simply be thoughtful and deliberate." Getting older and more experienced, however, you tend to moderate some from the poles and note that Joe Torre has no problem questioning an umpire -- he just does it in a more reserved fashion. This is kind of what Manny needs to realize. And for some of you who want him gone, now, the team that will reap the benefits of Acta's growth will be the New York Mets.

Posted by: magnus37 | May 29, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

If I'm not mistaken, a manager can not question a balk call because, just like arguing balls/strikes, he would be immediately ejected.

As for the reversal of the HR call, I can see a manager going out to seek an explanation for what the umpires saw on the video review to make them reverse the call, but I don't see any reason for him to go all George-Brett-pine-tar-like on the umpires. What would be the point? It's not like he'd be able to get them to reverse their reversal.

Posted by: erocks33 | May 29, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

> Arrogance is even more ugly than passivity.

Manny's arrogant too. He does nothing but blame the players. He's just better at getting away with it.

Posted by: Brue | May 29, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Chico, don't jinx them!!

"(Say what you want about the Nats, but their injury problems have been tame by comparison.)"

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | May 29, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"Manny Cannot Manage"

Manny cannot manage
Til the Man with all the Plannage
Can reverse the awful damage that was wrought

By the bloody MLBleeps
Who fleeced the team like sheep
And took all the talented people that we'd got

Imagine Acta were to say
"Belly I'm benching you today
Cuz I didn't like the way you ran to first"

Belly can bide his time
While he's riding on the pine
Since he knows the next in line is even worse

So there ain't no quick solution
Without a sudden mass infusion
Of NAAATs to flush pollution out the door

No, Manny cannot manage
When at such a disadvantage
It's a burden, like our fannage, to endure

Posted by: nationalsanthems | May 29, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"If I'm not mistaken, a manager can not question a balk call because, just like arguing balls/strikes, he would be immediately ejected."

I believe that is correct it is like balls and strikes, but you could say "what did he do wrong" as you could ask an ump "where was that pitch?" It isn't arguring a call, just getting a clarification. If a pitcher balks and it isn't obvious what he did wrong you want to know what he did so it doesn't get called again.

Posted by: brothbart | May 29, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

nationalsanthems: thanks!

Posted by: joemktg2 | May 29, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I hope the Marlins do sign Cabrera. I want some of those runs back.

Posted by: psubman | May 29, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I have not seen anyone mention who the Acta replacement options are. Can we get a list or something?

I strongly feel change for the sake of change is a moronic move, and will produce no results. If the team has quit on Manny, then maybe a change would have benefit.

Manny can definitely stand to take a cerebral and calm approach to inquiring about umpire calls though.

Posted by: ckstevenson | May 29, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

@nationalanthems: thanks for the antidote to all the nationals anathemas we've been seeing directed at acta.

it seems certain people want manny to behave according to the motto of the international association of professional bureaucrats: "When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout."

doesn't work there, wouldn't work here.

Posted by: natty-bumppo | May 29, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Just saw the following from the Miami Herald. For those that thought the Marlins got the best of the trade after Bonifacio's hot start to the season.

"Bonifacio's seven errors tied for the second-most in baseball entering Tuesday, but his .296 on-base average is third-worst among all leadoff hitters with at least 150 at-bats. Even Bonifacio said lead-off hitters should have at least a .350 on-base average".

Posted by: slopitchtom | May 29, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

" hope the Marlins do sign Cabrera. I want some of those runs back."

Guzman has had all of his walks (3) in the past 2 weeks. What is he eating? If DCab signs with the Marlins, then we might see Guzman's season walk total double in 1 game.

Posted by: dclifer97 | May 29, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

"Manny cannot manage
Til the Man with all the Plannage
Can reverse the awful damage that was wrought

By the bloody MLBleeps"

Well, see, the thing is he CAN manage despite this. Or, to put it differently, he needs to manage despite this - assuming of course that he really wants to manage here 20 years like he says he does. From his statements to Chico, Boswell, Ladson et al it would seem that he either doesn't realize that or doesn't want to tell them that he does. He has to know, based on how this organization operates, that he's not going to be fired mid-season. He has this whole season to state his case for why they should retain him. The decision is not going to be made based on whether he argued a particular call, played a particular player or anything like that. It's not going to be made purely on his W-L record. The decision is going to be made on what kind of whole he can ultimately make out of the sum of the parts he's been given. In 2007, he took a ragtag bunch of players and made a whole out of them that was greater than the sum of its parts. In 2008, he had another ragtag bunch of players and under the circumstances (injuries, etc) got a whole out of them that was probably equal to the sum of its parts. This year, though, he's been given a much better set of parts yet to this point he has only been able to produce a whole that's much less than their sum. He's dug himself into a big hole, yet he seems not to be worried about it. Is that because he knows he'll have a job somewhere next year no matter what, or is it because he really is confident that he'll be able to dig himself out of this hole by season's end? We'll never know, because he's not telling us. We'll just have to wait and see if he can do it. If he can't, everyone (including Manny) knows he'll be gone as soon as the season's over.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 29, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Too much emphasis on Manny's moods. Maybe a well-timed tantrum or argument with an umpire might help a little, but c'mon, the team's problems run deeper. The more important question is not about temperament but about whether Acta has been able to get the most out of his players, indeed whether he has "lost" them. Sometimes you need to make a change at the helm to shake things up.
Having said all that, the Nats are not doing well mainly because they lack talent, especially in the bullpen. Time and good decisions will improve that, but not right away. It'll take some time for Rizzo or his successor to right all of Bowden's wrongs.

Posted by: jdsp2000 | May 29, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I would love to see Buck Showalter brought in. He sometimes over manages and is a micromanager, but he has a great mind and a great guy to play for if you can take his rules. He helped build the champion teams of the Yankees and Arizona. I never saw a move that didn't work out. I remember him walking Bonds with the bases loaded and 2 outs and them up by 2 or 3 runs. Everyone was wondering what he was doing until the next guy was retired and they one the game.

Posted by: brothbart | May 29, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Then he should have argued and then get tossed.

Look, I like Acta, and I do actually appreciate his demeanor. I also think a lot of the flak he's taken recently is unwarranted.

But that balk call needed to be argued.

-----

If I'm not mistaken, a manager can not question a balk call because, just like arguing balls/strikes, he would be immediately ejected.

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 29, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I don't need Manny to be Pinella, but a calm, slow walk to question something questionable on the occasion it is needed, would be appreciated as it would show he was aware and awake all at the same time.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 29, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Chico, when a guy shows no emotion in any situation it is not some skill he has honed, it is his nature. Manny's nature is low key. This club does not need low key. It is into its third year of low key, very bad baseball. Lousy roster or not, this is the major leagues and Manny cannot get his team to perfrom. He needs to go back and hone his craft as a manager in double AA for a few years and he needs to be sent down today.

Posted by: dfh21 | May 29, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

That's just mistaken, for Manny specifically if we believe what he and others have said about his being more querulous in his younger days, and about people in general, who can hone any skill you care to name, if they choose to do so.

********
Chico, when a guy shows no emotion in any situation it is not some skill he has honed, it is his nature. Manny's nature is low key.
Posted by: dfh21 | May 29, 2009 12:47 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 29, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

that said, I *still* want an explanation of that balk call, and would have gone out to get one, had I been in Manny's place.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 29, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

This is BASEBALL and MLB for that matter ... albeit a game full of male-oriented ritual ... not a new age test where Manny channels various entities like Gandhi, Stengel, Torre whomever.

Forget the Bozwellian prosetylizing ...

Let's get to the nitty gritty:

Frank Robby 1065 wins against 1176 losses.

Manny Acta 133 wins 200 losses before the season started, Now 146 wins 232 losses ... potential exists to have a player on his team hit more home runs than Manny's squad manages to win.

Jim Riggleman the ubiquitous bench coach often
hired as the interim manager: 522 wins 652 losses.

Posted by: periculum | May 29, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

As the Master told his temple guard dogs, "I told you not to bite--I never said you shouldn't growl now and then."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 29, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

So, how often does Tony LaRussa get tossed?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 29, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

nunof1,

Manny, like the players on this team appears to be resigned to his fate. In other words, he has given up as have too many players in MAY!!!???

That in itself is the reason Manny needs to go. NOW.

Posted by: periculum | May 29, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Not that LaRussa, or Uncle Lou for that matter, would take the job.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 29, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"Frank Robby 1065 wins against 1176 losses.

Manny Acta 133 wins 200 losses before the season started, Now 146 wins 232 losses ... potential exists to have a player on his team hit more home runs than Manny's squad manages to win.

Jim Riggleman the ubiquitous bench coach often
hired as the interim manager: 522 wins 652 losses."

Losers all. Your point?

Posted by: nunof1 | May 29, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"Acta Sees No Need for Alarm" by Chico Harlen
Isn't that what Mr Ismay said as the Titanic was floundering!

My lord you can't make this kind of stuff up!

So fella's if the "Gum Chewer" sees no need for alarm I gather we should all be glad the "Sabermetrics Genius" is firmly planted in the dug-out. Good grief!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | May 29, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I think some of this discussion is missing a point with Manny. Look at this as if it's any management problem. There's two issues here--how he interacts with his employees and how he interacts with the outside.

Not yelling or embarrassing employees in public--good management. Manny gets an A.

Not backing up employees in legitimate arguments with outsiders--bad management. Manny gets a C minus. Once his subordinate, Dunn (a team leader), ran in to discuss the call with the ump, Manny should have been out there.

I don't think a little excitement with the ump would mean he couldn't be calm with the players.

Posted by: chiefwj | May 29, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Manny please leave so the Mets can hire you and you can make them worse. Bobby V, since your contract is up in Japan after thsi season please get in touch with that other fake bum in the FO StanK. Rizzo and Bobby V for 2010!!!

Posted by: NATSFAN10 | May 29, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

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