Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mailing in the Tomahawks

With the second interview completed, with Bobby V…um, not exactly “nailing it” and the third interview (Lovullo) scheduled for Friday, let’s get into the latest and greatest (relatively speaking) on the Indians’ managerial search as we release some Tomahawks:
__________

With Bobby Valentine really mailing in the “meet-the-press-greet-the-press” portion of his interview, let’s take a look at some of the real beauties dropped on his “desire” to lead the Tribe:
"This is an opportunity to manage a major-league team with a group of major-league class people. I'd almost have to ask why wouldn't I want the opportunity? . . . It's one of the best ballparks in the world. They asked me at ESPN, "Why do you want to go there?"
"Why wouldn't I?"
--snip--
"I think I'm being asked to be part of a baseball culture, to be part of a process that might be lasting, might be special. I like special."


Hey Bobby, thanks for showing up with your charming generalities and non-descript stories told with a smile…I would maybe look at buying in Bristol.
__________

Comparing Valentine’s presser with that of Acta, is there much of a question which prospective manager came across as better prepared, more confidence-inspiring, and (frankly) more interested?

Regardless of that, as well as Manny Acta presented himself in his press conference, you can almost already hear the critics howling at Acta, if he were in fact named manager, as a losing organization picking a loser. Whether that’s valid or not, the Nationals’ record in 2009 was 26-61 (.298 winning percentage) under Acta and 33-42 (.440 winning percentage) after he left, which certainly causes some concern as to his ability to maximize talent.

However, while it’s easy to fall into the trap of looking at Acta in Washington (particularly his record) and simply dub him a “loser” without much hope that he could find much more success in Cleveland, I’ll direct you to a comment made by Baseball Prospectus’ Joe Sheehan in a recent online chat.

The Q & A looked like this:
buffum (Austin TX): Acta or Valentine?
Joe Sheehan: Acta. He's the next Terry Francona.


I’m not sure if the next Jon Lester or the next Kevin Youkilis can come along with this “next Terry Francona”, but it sounds like the beginning of a plan to me.

Also, if somebody could shed some light on who this astute question came from, it would be much obliged.
__________

Of course, the corollary to Acta’s situation is that he’s also a candidate in Houston and Ken Rosenthal thinks that Astros’ owner Drayton McClane may attempt to make this interesting if he senses a competition with the Indians for the services of Acta:
Acta not only is a finalist for the Indians, but also a leading candidate for the Astros. The Indians are not likely to alter their process because of the Astros' interest. But Astros owner Drayton McLane might react to the Indians' pursuit.
The competition for Acta is reminiscent of the battle between the Rangers and Orioles for Phil Regan after the 1994 season. The Orioles' interest in Regan only intensified after club officials learned that Regan also was a target of the Rangers and their new general manager, former O's exec Doug Melvin.
Orioles owner Peter Angelos, fearing he might lose Regan, would not let him leave Baltimore without a contract. McLane is the same type of owner that Angelos was then — intrusive, competitive, prone to impulse.
--snip--
Acta, who began his career with the Astros and spent 16 years in the organization, told reporters that rejoining the team would be "too good to be true." The Indians, however, are a far more stable operation.


Now there’s speculation (admittedly wild speculation at that) that the Blue Jays may express an interest in Acta because of his connection with some of the principals in the new Toronto Front Office:
If Manny Acta doesn’t get the Cleveland Indians managing job, I wouldn’t be surprised if he figures in any reworking of the Toronto Blue Jays coaching staff. Never mind that new Jays assistant GM Dana Brown worked with Acta in Montreal and with the Washington Nationals; Acta is also known to Alex Anthopoulos and Tony LaCava.

Suddenly, somebody’s looking like the belle of the ball with a full dance card to boot…
__________

If Acta could have a destination other than Cleveland this off-season, it seems that Don Mattingly may be keeping his address as Jon Heyman asserts that there is an understanding in place to keep Mattingly in Chavez Ravine as the heir apparent to Joe Torre:
So while no one is saying it officially, the Dodgers are one team that truly has a manager in waiting. (According to Torre, the wait will be one more year, as he reiterated to SI.com that it's his intention to make 2010 his last year as Dodgers manager.)
--snip--
Mattingly said he believes Torre when he says he intends to make 2010 his last season managing the Dodgers. "He's not as leverage-the-media guy," Mattingly said. "But nobody knows the future."
Mattingly understands the future isn't guaranteed to anyone. But his looks pretty secure in Dodger blue.


Could we suddenly be looking at a “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” situation emerging here?

I suppose if anything can be taken from these possibilities, it’s the fact that at least we’re looking at guys other teams are interested in and are targeting managerial candidates that other teams feel just as strongly about. To that end (and to bring this around to a couple of names NOT on the “finalist” list), when was the last time you heard of an interview for Hargrove when a managerial position (or even a coaching position) arose in the past…how about Tony Pena?
__________

With Acta perhaps going to Houston and Mattingly perhaps staying put, is it any surprise that it looks like Clint Hurdle may now be entering the picture? Since I’m losing track, would Hurdle represent Plan D, or are we already on E?
Actually, I think it’s F…

Whatever letter we may find ourselves on, it would seem that Hurdle has entered the mix and perhaps for no other reason than to have an option in case everyone else bails out. How serious a candidate Hurdle should be considered remains to be seen; but if you don’t like the difference between the Nationals’ record with Acta and without Acta, you’re not going to like this:
Colorado Rockies - 2009
18-28 (.391 winning percentage) under Hurdle
74-42 (.638 winning percentage) after he was fired

If Hurdle gets into the finalist stage of the process (hopefully having more to say than that he has no idea who the starting third baseman might be), I’ll get into the ins and outs of Hurdle; but until then, we’ll just call him “Plan F”.
__________

Two managerial candidates have finished their interviews, with one coming across well-prepared and interested and the other coming across as “above” the process and assuming that he could sit before the microphones and charm his way into the job.

More are on the way, but whether some of the aforementioned candidates (of the ones on the plane from the NLCS) see the Indians as their first choice may dictate the Indians’ “selection” as much as anything.

3 comments:

ChooChooChooseU said...

I think the possibility of luring top tier managerial talent to the intersection of E.9th & Carnegie is about as realistic as the possibility of landing top tier free agent talent, and for the same reason. Why would a managerial candidate who is in-demand chose a team that has bled out so much talent as the Tribe? Sure the Astros might be perceived as less stable than the Tribe (whatever that is supposed to mean), but when was the last time they traded a reigning Cy Young winner?

It's embarassing just thinking about being spurned by the likes of Acta. Living 4 blocks away from Nationals Park for the past 3 years, I've seen enough of his supposed managerial acumen to think that if we lose him, it won't be the end of the world. The bottom line is having capable players. Uncle Cholly is living proof of this in Philly.

So I say, just end this spectacle by hiring Lovullo and let's all just move on. If he's less than spectacular maybe at least the economy will have improved, some of our "futures" may be showing some real promise and the fire sales of 2008 & 2009 will be a more distant memory when it comes time for the next managerial search.

Or just bring back Wedge. At this point, whatever works.

paul.fogel said...

the question to sheehan probably came from steve buffum (theclevelandfan.com and ESPN - http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/550/baseball-is-about-simple-math)

he is hilarious and a great analyst & i'm surprised you don't know/didn't recognize him.

Paul Cousineau said...

Tongue in cheek, Paul Fogel.

Buff is my fellow writer for TCF whose question merited the mention.

Tongue in cheek.