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Acta Fired As Washington Nationals Manager

[UPDATE] -- Read the updated news story here.

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In the middle of his third season as manager, Manny Acta has been fired by the Washington Nationals, a source with knowledge of the situation said tonight. Asked in an e-mail about his job status, Acta replied, simply, "Thanks for everything." Acta's Nationals made it to the all-star break with a 26-61 record, worst in the majors, finishing with six losses in their last seven games. During the first half, Acta's job status was the subject of much debate, and those in and out of the organization questioned whether his unfailingly patient approach matched the needs of a sloppy, error-prone team.

Acta, the franchise's second manager since its relocation to Washington, was in the middle of his poorest season. It was also his most disappointing. He'd called this club, in spring training, the most talented of his tenure.

Acta, 40, has a 158-252 record. He was the third base coach with the New York Mets before taking his first managerial job, replacing Frank Robinson.

It is unknown at this hour how Washington will replace Acta for the rest of the season. A month ago, when news reports indicated that Acta's firing was imminent, current bench coach Jim Riggleman was tabbed as the likely replacement.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 13, 2009; 1:57 AM ET
 
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Next: Acta's Gone; Was This the Right Time?

Comments

good luck in ny manny

Posted by: theredskin | July 13, 2009 2:01 AM | Report abuse

Finally. some accountability.

Continue the purge immediately.

the rest of this season should be an extended tryout for 2010, for all of our young "maybes". Let's see what they've got.

things can't get any worse. I'm not expecting to suddenly compete just cause Manny isn't here anymore. But I expect a different attitude out of whoever the new manager

Posted by: MrMadison | July 13, 2009 2:02 AM | Report abuse

http://therocket.mlblogs.com/

More than five hours after they lost their 61st game of the season, the Nationals have dismissed Manny Acta as their manager on Sunday night, according multiple sources. An announcement is expected to be made as early as Monday.

Acta learned about his dismissal at Nationals Park after the team landed at Dulles Airport in Washington. Team president Stan Kasten gave Acta the news.

Jim Riggleman will now be the new skipper of the Nationals.

Posted by: theredskin | July 13, 2009 2:05 AM | Report abuse

and oh, there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth when everyone wakes up in the morning.

tomorrow should be very entertaining.

Posted by: MrMadison | July 13, 2009 2:08 AM | Report abuse

This was on ESPN 45 minutes ago.Give Tim Foli a shot.He's just what Manny isn't,a fiery guy.

Posted by: seanmg | July 13, 2009 2:29 AM | Report abuse

This is a sad, sad, story. Manny is a class act and has been a great representative for the team and the city.

I think we were all hopeful that this smart young manager could become the face of a winning franchise for decades to come. We must now hope that firing him isn't a step backwards in the fragile development process. Of course, that's the problem. Things have gotten so bad that you wouldn't be able to tell if it's a step backwards. I suppose that's when the team feels it has to act.

Best of luck to you, Manny.

Posted by: LetTeddyWin_com | July 13, 2009 2:30 AM | Report abuse

He'll be back, I promise you that. You give that man a roster with a modicum of talent and he will flourish, I have an immense amount of respect for him as a coach and as a human being.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | July 13, 2009 2:43 AM | Report abuse

Jim Bowden was the person who screwed over the nationals not Manny Acta. Randy St. Claire was alwful and couldn't coach a dog how to play fletch. The starting pitchers have gotten better with Steve McCathy and the offense has gotten way better with the addition of adam dunn and rick eckstein as hitting coach. The problem is Bullpen; Bullpen; Bullpen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who is going to be the next manager? Manny has had consistent lineup and pitching rotation for his 3 years here.

Posted by: coop28 | July 13, 2009 2:44 AM | Report abuse

Another bad decision by a loser franchise. Tab one of the best young managing "prospects" in the game and then run the team into the ground for 3 years, only to blame him when you are the laughingstock of the league.
The problem here is the ownership. If anyone could do a worse job than the MLB group who neglected this franchise for years, the Lerner family has done it. You are the worst owners in baseball, and I hope the entire family fortune disappears because you ruined baseball in DC. Again.
You are a pathetic excuse for an ownership group, and I refuse to ever give you another dollar. You make Peter Angelos look good by the way you actually found a way to make the worst franchise in baseball much, much worse in less than 3 years.
Congratulations. You failed so miserably in such epic proportions that it needs to be documented in the annals of history. Please sell the team before anyone gets hurt anymore than we already have been.

Posted by: bobnowell | July 13, 2009 2:45 AM | Report abuse

Note to all MLB Managers:

If Jim Riggleman is hired to be your Bench Coach...consider it a Warning.

Posted by: MrMadison | July 13, 2009 2:46 AM | Report abuse

Jim Bowden was the person who screwed over the nationals not Manny Acta. Randy St. Claire was alwful and couldn't coach a dog how to play fletch. The starting pitchers have gotten better with Steve McCathy and the offense has gotten way better with the addition of adam dunn and rick eckstein as hitting coach. The problem is Bullpen; Bullpen; Bullpen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who is going to be the next manager? Manny has had no consistent lineup and pitching rotation for his 3 years here.

Posted by: coop28 | July 13, 2009 2:47 AM | Report abuse

Its about time.

Posted by: rskinz34 | July 13, 2009 2:47 AM | Report abuse

Kasten is such a moron. His plan has been a failure and what does he do, fire one of the top pitching coaches in baseball and then follow that up by canning one of the brightest young managers in baseball.

All of you who laud this move as some form of "accountability" are fooling yourselves, if there was REAL accountability, the players would retire, Kasten would step down, and the Lerners would sell the team.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | July 13, 2009 2:49 AM | Report abuse

they also replaced the entire bullpen before firing either of them.

Posted by: MrMadison | July 13, 2009 2:56 AM | Report abuse

This news is very disappointing.

Acta is a classy, competent guy. He is being scapegoated.

This only deepens my concerns about the team's management. The Nationals need to be patient, and to focus like a laser beam on the future. That means, for example, trading veterans while they still have value, accepting short term pain for long term gain. It also should have meant keeping a quality manager like Acta, who could have provided a strong foundation once the team developed a full roster of quality players.

Posted by: Dynatic | July 13, 2009 3:08 AM | Report abuse

MrMadison, I am sorry to inform you that simply replacing bums with more bums is not exactly giving these guys a chance. If you can name ONE pitcher that actually progressed after leaving the guidance of St. Claire, I'd love to hear about him. Because, I can ratchet out a list of guys that have had career (or serious revival) years under him and did ZIP after him (Esteban Loiza, Odalis Perez, Jon Rauch, Gary Majewski, Joey Eischen, Saul Rivera, Luis Ayala, and so on and so forth)

As for Acta, only time will tell, but I have a hunch that even Tony La Russa wouldn't be able to muster up more than 65 wins out of this joke of a roster.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | July 13, 2009 3:19 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunate news - best of luck to Manny in the future.

Contrary to what some on here think, I believe Kasten/Lerners are desperate for this team to avoid being historically awful this season. Though it's much more their fault than Manny's, the team attitude in the last couple weeks was probably the final straw. I think some of that can be placed on Manny's shoulders. A little fire could wake some of these bums up a bit.

This probably isn't the worst thing for both parties. Team will get an atitude adjustment and Acta might avoid having a record setting loss tally next to his name. Though his rep won't be hurt too much - those around baseball will know best how poorly this club has been set up.

Posted by: Kev29 | July 13, 2009 4:07 AM | Report abuse

Garrett Mock. Colin Balester.

nearly every pitcher who left the Nats and went back down to AAA to work with Steve McCatty. Mock and Balester in particular have been pretty dominant at their level since being separated from St. Claire. Mock's already been called back up, and Balester is next in line.

Majewski and Ayala had arm injuries which led to them "not doing zip after St. Claire". nice try.

Saul Rivera imploded WHILE ST. CLAIRE WAS STILL HERE. nice try.

Joey Eischen was never a great pitcher, not even under St. Claire. the only reason people ever liked him was because he was a good quote. nice try.

Loaiza, you can have Loaiza.

Odalis Perez was not good at all. He was pretty much league average in every way.

Posted by: MrMadison | July 13, 2009 4:08 AM | Report abuse

imo, Manny will be the Mets Bench Coach within a week, tops.

and then Next in line for the Mets Manager job in 2010.

Posted by: MrMadison | July 13, 2009 4:09 AM | Report abuse

Loved Manny personally -- truly a good man. But this had to be done. The "it's ok to lose" culture had to change.

Posted by: raymitten | July 13, 2009 4:49 AM | Report abuse

Kasten and the owners should be on that bus with Manny.Their just awful,and the main reason I gave up on my season tickets 3 years ago.

Posted by: jp14710 | July 13, 2009 4:55 AM | Report abuse

All the best to Manny in the future. He's a nice guy and has the potential to be a great manager. But not of this team.

Talent-wise, this is NOT the worst team in baseball. Sure, blame the Lerners, Bowden and Kasten for the mismatched parts and orphans that make this a bottom third team.

But when it comes to attitude, motivation, game strategy and general pre-game preparation, the manager gets a large share of the blame. Over and over again, the Nats fall out of close games because of a lack of focus.

If they don't have the maturity of all-stars, players need to be directed in crucial situation. And it needs to be made clear that they aren't performing if they blow it. "Mailing it in" is unacceptable as are boneheaded plays.

I just don't think Manny provided the necessary leadership.

Posted by: nattydread1 | July 13, 2009 5:00 AM | Report abuse

It's about time!

Posted by: srbassett-tcw | July 13, 2009 5:17 AM | Report abuse

FRAK.

Posted by: Juan-John | July 13, 2009 5:18 AM | Report abuse

Enduring sculpture is chiseled from the finest marble, they gave Manny mud. Good luck Manny we'll see you in October long before the Nats break .500

Posted by: NICKYNUNYA | July 13, 2009 6:08 AM | Report abuse

I always thought that Manny would be a great manager for team with vets that know their job and has an established record of winning. Here, however they need an old school guy to deal with these guys or find an young Earl Weaver, but good luck to Manny, he'll land somewhere soon.

Posted by: bromisky | July 13, 2009 6:15 AM | Report abuse

The most talented Nationals team was the one that came here in 2005. Jim Bowden then proceeded to dismantle and destroy it. The current team is awful. The team has a DH in Adam Dunn-- his best value is the American League. Austin Kearns is abysmal and so is that whole "crowded outfield". The pitching stinks.

Posted by: hz9604 | July 13, 2009 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Good luck Manny. Like a lot managers, perhaps the first stop won't tell the complete story. Plenty of managers have gone on after there first job to become quite good. Too bad it didn't work out here. Stevie Wonder could see this coming, it was always just a matter of when. Good luck to you and to whomever follows in your footsteps. Now the Nats will have both an interim GM and Manager. Should the owners be interim also??

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 13, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

You are your record.

Riggleman should be interim (just like Riz). Then search for the best available talent.

Posted by: joemktg1 | July 13, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

Managers often serve as the fall guy for others' failures. I think that's what has happened here and that Acta will surface again, just like former Braves and Cardinals manager Joe Torre, who was sub-.500 after a dozen years as field boss at the point when the Cards let him go.

Posted by: greggwiggins | July 13, 2009 6:46 AM | Report abuse

This is long overdue. While I never thought much of Manny's patient, almost Zen-like approach, he sure did not get a lot out of the little talent he has on the team.

Do you remember the scene in Bull Durham when the manager throws the bats in the shower and calls them lollygaggers? It seems like this bunch needs something like that - a little slap in the face.

How many times did we watch terrible calls go against the Nationals and see Manny sit on his hands in the dugout. It appeared to me that Manny didn't care if the team won or lost. I bet plenty of his players came to the same conclusion.

Posted by: ZAMBEZI | July 13, 2009 6:49 AM | Report abuse

It's about time....focus and fundamentals were severely lacking on this team. How many errors this season? How many bases loaded, 0 or 1 out and no scoring?
All this goes back to focus and fundamentals. And the manager is responsible for that!

Posted by: M20832 | July 13, 2009 6:52 AM | Report abuse

... I am saddened by this news, but it hardly surprising; the team's record demanded it. What makes it more upsetting for me is the fact that Manny was - and is - the kind of manager needed in MLB. He was a gentleman, someone who never lost his cool, who always dealt with personnel issues away from cameras and mics, who always approached fans, media, employers and employees the same way - with outward and honest respect. He was no "Pinella" and that was a good thing.

... thank you, Manny, for all you did for the Expos, the Nats, and for fans like me.

... Go Nats!!

Posted by: natscanreduxit | July 13, 2009 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Manny Acta is a class act and had a tough road with this bunch of misfits You can go on and on about the entire team Zim leading the league in double play hits ,Adam Dunn with a steel glove ,plus all the tream errors ,finally got a center fielder and after 75 games into the season and pitching forget it ,even the vets couldn't throw strikes .
Joe Torre had a toudh start Manny will end up much better off once he distances himself from these losers .He certainally deserved to been dealt a better hand

Posted by: kjmoon | July 13, 2009 7:05 AM | Report abuse

I honestly believe the Lerners, having given up any other hope for the season, actually want the Nats to set the all-time season loss record. At least they'll have their ironclad place in the record books.

Their strategy seems likely to assure it.

Just be sure to spell the owners' names right -- the L-O-S-E-R-S.

Posted by: laboo | July 13, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

I guess this was inevitable but I am sad because I liked Manny as a person...I am not certain fire and brimstone is always the answer. But I am more saddened because we once again have created a revolving door of players, coaches, managers, GMs, announcers even...when are we going to have some longevity, some tradition to begin feeling OK about...

Posted by: MarkfromCT | July 13, 2009 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Good luck, Manny

Posted by: Section506 | July 13, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

It had to be done. We all knew it. We all sat through blow-out losses, one run losses, errors turned into runs for the other team, umpires' calls that were blatantly bad going unchallenged, unfocused hitters, the same closer sent out in April time after time on his certain path of destruction, the players sent out to play the wrong positions, the rigid lineups.

There will certainly be a lot of sympathy for Manny. Players like playing for a coach who won't climb their back for failure. They get a free pass. The fans will miss his smooth charisma. Some will even lament the loss of his stoic demeanor in the face of nightly ruin.

And yet to me Manny was a horrible judge of talent. The area where he had his choices was in the coaches that he picked to be on his club the first two seasons. He amazingly stood by Lenny Harris for a couple of years, two years longer than anyone else would have. Others had to fire his coaches for him--first his 2008 crew and finally St. Claire this year. Manny's fault was his undying loyalty even in the face of reason and results. Keeping Zimmerman at third in the order when his RISP was around .200, playing Lo Duca in left field, not having Milledge earn his position at center field are all examples of his blind spots.

So what should the attributes be for the next manager? First of all I hope it will be one that will not try to fit round pegs in square holes but play each person according to where he will benefit the team the best. I hope he will manage without having the sacred cows on his team--players that no matter how horrible their current performance are given the pass. I hope he will challenge the notion that this team is going to lose, the notion put into the minds of umpires as well as some teams (Marlins) as well as our own players. This team has died in extra innings and recently has been dead after the fifth inning. The players have accepted the "nice try" mode of playing. I hope the new manager will also take note that repeated failure in an area of baseball will have consequences. Some examples are: failure to get a runner home from third with less than two outs, failure to put out maximum effort on every play, failure to get the ball over the plate, failure to run the bases with an awareness of a junior in high school.

The new manager will be coming into situation that is not as bad as the record. There is talent here. There is not the dissension that is rife on clubs that have far better records. He will be coming into a situation where he will by law of averages alone have a good chance to improve over the first half of the year.

Posted by: driley | July 13, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

How many "I liked Manny as a person" statements are we going to get. Perhaps that was the biggest problem. Being popular was not in the job description.

I would like to see Foli get a shot as well. They need to change the culture of accepting losing that Manny created so well. I am sure who ever it is is just going to be a short term hire anyway. It is a two month season now and it is past time to shake up that clubhouse.

Posted by: JayBeee | July 13, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, Manny is victim to Jim Bowden's remaking the Nationals in the image of the Cincinatti Reds. How does a GM go into training camp with 6 candidates for the corner outfield spots and not a single centerfielder. Every 'deal' Bowden made was either a push or made things worse. Why is Austin kearns still on the roster? And the catching? Jose Flores may be a good prospect, but this is the second year in a row that he finishes on the DL. Nieves? decent backup. Same for Bard? How is it that they couldn't sign Crow and now may not be able to sign Strasbourg? Who are they avoiding? Good luck, Manny. I'm betting he's the Mets manager by December.

Posted by: shemtof | July 13, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Best wishes for Manny personally, but this had to be done. All year long, basic fundamental errors have been killing the team. If one or two players were making dumb mistakes, you deal with the players; when EVERYONE is screwing up (missing second base? balking in a run on an intentional walk?), you need to replace the manager.

Posted by: ammonite88 | July 13, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Absolute euphoria. This is the best Monday ever.

Posted by: RickFelt | July 13, 2009 7:48 AM | Report abuse

An unfortunate but necessary maneuver.

Best of luck to you, Manny.

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | July 13, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Shemtof, your comments would carry more weight if you were slightly more accurate with your references. The Nats have never had a Jose Flores on their team, but Jesus Flores has been on the roster for some time now. They're negotiating with Steven Strasburg via Scott Boras right now, and there is no credible evidence on either side that the deal will or won't get done. There's a full month before the discussions come close to anything resembling their conclusion.

For what it's worth, and this doesn't constitute any defense of Manny, but no manager should be fired for a player missing second base. That's the definition of the player's fault. The manager can say "pay attention to what you're doing!" all he wants in the clubhouse, but he's not running the bases. Double switches, pitching changes, defensive positioning, GENERAL motivation and clubhouse demeanor are all squarely within the manager's purview, but he can't be in his player's ear while they're playing. That was Dunn's fault, and it would have been Dunn's fault if any other manager (pick your favorite) was managing.

Posted by: faNATic | July 13, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Chico got the byline for the Baltimore Sun post on this, too:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/baseball/bal-nationals-fire-acta-0713,0,5269532.story?track=rss

Posted by: TWTIB | July 13, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, and this doesn't constitute any defense of Manny, but no manager should be fired for a player missing second base. That's the definition of the player's fault. The manager can say "pay attention to what you're doing!" all he wants in the clubhouse, but he's not running the bases. Double switches, pitching changes, defensive positioning, GENERAL motivation and clubhouse demeanor are all squarely within the manager's purview, but he can't be in his player's ear while they're playing. That was Dunn's fault, and it would have been Dunn's fault if any other manager (pick your favorite) was managing.
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No, but Manny is responsible for playing Lastings Milledge for a year, bringing in Anderson Hernandez, continually going to Luis Ayala in 2008 and Joel Hanrahan in 2009, keeping Josh Willingham on the bench for the first half of the season, pulling out Dunn repeatedly in close games that have ended up extra inning losses, motivating Cristian Guzman to take the effort to bend down for a ground ball, setting a lineup that repeatedly had Austin Kearns and/or Ronnie Bellard up in key situations with men on base, mechanically using the bullpen (witness the use of Bergmann the other day), evaluating 'talent' by playing Wily Mo Pena over Ryan Church and using Nook Logan as a regular outfielder for a complete season, etc. etc. etc.

Manny contributed to the roster moves Bowden made (Hernandez and Milledge being the two prime examples) and to the laizze faire culture of the team. Bowden is gone, all the coaches were fired. You can keep pulling the weeds but if you don't get the root they only grow back.

Posted by: raymitten | July 13, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Manny's only problem was a lack of talent on his roster. Only the overly optimistic thought this team had any chance coming out of spring training. The only bright spot was offense. Maybe the worst outfield defense in baseball and shaky at short and 2nd, the Nats were a disaster waiting to happen. We have developed some good young pitching though, and Morgan was an excellent pickup, so there is hope. I want Rizzo to get the GM job now and let him do his work. Manny is going to be a very good manager elsewhere, I'm just sorry it is not here. The blame is on Bowden for his incessant shoot for the moon offensive approach and Kasten for allowing him to continune. Viva Manny!

Posted by: JpJp | July 13, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

I feel bad for Acta, who's been a standup guy during his 2 1/2 years here. Unfortunately, his patient attitude was a poor fit for a relatively untalented team; to me, his signature move came in not raising a ruckus over a questionable home run call iat CitiField (the "Subway sign" incident). That, and his utter inability to beat the Marlins, spelled his doom.

For the Foli backers -- he's probably better off n Syracuse over a full season, because it's hard to dismiss an interim manager you just brought up from the minors.

I only hope this is part of a complete housecleaning, from GM on down (and if Kasten is given his walking papers by the Lerners, so much the better; he has done nothing here to convince me that anyone other than John Schuerholz was the architect of the Braves' run). Hire a permanent GM, whether that be someone from outside the organization (my preference) or retaining Rizzo, and let that person select a new manager.

And note to the Lerners: Like it or not, to get good talent as manager and GM, you're going to have to overpay, just you will with Strasburg. The current state of this franchise, along with Washington's reputation as a baseball graveyard for two-thirds of a century, leave you no alternative.

Posted by: VPaterno | July 13, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Now let's do something about other negative factors. Our curly W is straight from Walgreen's logo. Look it up yourself. How classy! And the fans, commentators, and writers all participate in calling our team Nats, the most dreadful sports franchise nickname ever. Really, a swarm of gnats? Would you gladly call your team something like Weak Young Chickens in a Stiff North Wind? We've been hoodwinked!

Posted by: P522 | July 13, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I hope the team doesnt react badly and lose most of their games....oh wait...they are already doing that

Posted by: cabraman | July 13, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

There is another post up, fyi.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 13, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Manny farewelll and good luck you did the best you could with a team JB gave you. Now it is time for Riggleman to show what he has got left in the managerial tank. I am not angry with the organization for this move they tried firing the GM, dismantling the bullpen, firing the pitching coach and making one of what is likely many trades in the next few weeks. The team did not respond to any of these changes so firing the manager is the next thing you do in the business that is baseball. Go Nats I am looking for a better secon half.

Posted by: markfd | July 13, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I came across an online community for individual seeking interracial love. It is --Mixedmingle dot com--- All singles there are seeking interracial relationships and sports friends. Interracial is not a problem here, but a great merit to cherish!

Posted by: sallyworking2006 | July 13, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

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