Manny out as manager
There is a long list of managers that have been fired from their first managerial jobs to later become very successful and win a few World Series: Joe Torre (six), Bobby Cox (five) and Terry Francona (two) are just the active ones.
“I believe Manny is going to be anyone of those kinds of managers,” President Stan Kasten said.
It won’t be with the Washington Nationals though. Today, the Nationals relieved Manny Acta of his duties as manager.
Former Bench Coach Jim Riggleman will assume the helm of the Nationals, his fourth Major League managing job. He has compiled a 552-652 record while managing San Diego (1992-94), Chicago-NL (1995-99) and Seattle (2008). He posted a pair of winning records in five seasons with the Cubs, including a 90-73 (.552) record and a NL Wild Card in 1998.
Pat Corrales returns as the bench coach for the Nationals after having the same duties in 2007 and 2008. This will be his 51st season in professional baseball.
Acta’s tenure in Washington ended at the mid-point of his third season. He compiled a 158-252 record in those two-plus seasons with the Nationals and entered the All-Star break in fifth place in the National League East at 26-61.
“We’re a lot better team than what we’ve done this year, and unfortunately Manny had to kind of take the fall for that,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “I think he did a lot of things in Washington that will help us become a better team, and when it does happen, he’ll be responsible for a lot of it. It’s tough. Any time something like this happens, it’s tough to pinpoint what went wrong where. It’s always hard.”
The Nationals aren’t going to change their message of playing the game the right way, taking accountability, staying focused and emphasizing the fundamentals. They are just changing the voice that is instructing them. They are hoping the “different voice” will turn the team around.
“26-61 is unacceptable,” Interim General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “We feel that with a different voice and a possibly different feel in the clubhouse we can have a more successful second half of the season. We have the pieces in place to have success.”
Riggleman might not start getting ejected from games arguing balls and strikes but he will bring accountability and a my-way-or-the-highway approach to the clubhouse. He is an intense old school baseball guy and a “tough disciplinarian.”
Acta was never known for umpire arguments, post-game rants and calling players out. He was the quintessential players’ manager and took the opposite approach of Cubs Manager Lou Piniella and White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen.
Acta declined to attend the press conference but did thank the fans and the Nationals for the managerial opportunity.
“First, I would like to thank God for putting me in this position. I want to thank the Washington Nationals for giving me the opportunity to be a Major League manager. It was a great learning experience, I have no regrets,” Acta said in a statement. “As I move forward, I wish the Nationals all the best. I was very fortunate to work with and meet a lot of wonderful people while here. I’d like to extend a special thank you to the fans for being so patient and supportive over the last two and a half years.”
Kasten and Rizzo strongly feel the record is by no means the sum of its parts. The team’s performance has not equaled the team’s potential and that has made them the most upset.
“The pieces are coming together,” Kasten said. “They are here and that’s why I am so disappointed to be here today because we kept thinking it was going to turn around… It is a very sad day for me personally.”
Riggleman will draw off 29 professional seasons of experience as a manager or coach, 17 of which came at the Big League level. Riggleman has served stewardships under Tony LaRussa, Jerry Manuel and Jim Tracy, among others.
A third baseman by trade, Riggleman played eight professional seasons after being drafted by the Dodgers in the 1974 First-Year Player Draft out of Frostburg State (MD) University. Riggleman grew up in nearby Rockville, MD and is a graduate of Richard Montgomery (MD) High School.