Damn we're close now. The counter at the top of this page only has four numbers left to be crossed out and their's only one team standing in the way of the Yanks and the World Series. In my mind their are a few key storylines to watch during this next series that will determine who goes home champions in 2009.
So I was listening to some sports talk radio this morning when a caller called in wanting[...]
Read The Full Article:
More photos » by Gene J. Puskar - AP
Acta, obviously dejected he won't be an Astro
*The part of Devil's Advocate will be played by Davo.
Is it really that bad that the Astros lost out on Manny Acta?
We've gone over his resume a ton, but let's talk about this one little thing: .385.
That's his winning percentage as a major league manager. No Cleveland manager has ever been hired with a career winning percentage that low, according to Chris Jaffe over at THT. The Indians have only been around since, oh, 1901 or so. The Astros have been around since '62, but still managed to hire someone with a worse record than Acta. That would be Preston Gomez in 1971. Gomez was coming off a disastrous four-year stretch as the skipper of the San Diego Padres.
But, wait, you say...Acta was sabotaged by a terrible Nationals team! He wasn't given a chance to win and did what he could with a bad product. I submit to you this man. Pena not only took a bad Royals team over .500 for the first time since 1994, he did it with Jose Lima playing a prominent role. Jose "Casa Ole" Lima! That the team lost 100 games the next season or that Pena hasn't gotten a whiff of another job opportunity since shows something, right?
Okay, so you still think losing Acta was a big real, right? Because Acta is this informed individual who uses advanced stats and doesn't like small ball. Let me posit another hypothesis: what if the only reason you like Acta's managerial style so much is because he's allowed you to see it? Look at the interviews he's done, how candid he's been with his quotes and how much information is out there on his process. Doesn't that strike you as odd? It's almost like he's running a campaign....go look on Google right now for Brad Mills. Do it, I'll wait...
What did you find? Not a whole lot. The guy's been managing forever in the minors, has been a bench coach on one of the best, smartest run teams of this decade and we have no quotes about his style? No interviews detailing his usage of splits or UZR numbers? What if Acta is just a better self-promoter? What if our whole perception of him is exactly what he intends us to see and is figment of our collective imaginations?
Now you've gone too far, you say. I probably did, yes. But it still strikes me as odd that Acta is as open as he's been about everything. Didn't he have a blog too at some point this season? Was I dreaming that? It should be considered is all. Do we want our local skipper to have a better relationship with Justice than with Drayton?
So what about Garner then? He's reliable, he's been tested. In fact, he's the only manager to ever get the Astros to the World Series. That's got to count for something, right? Except that he was fired once by this same team. The same team that featured Roy Oswalt, Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman. Those guys are the tone-setters and they know Garner. I'd argue that this is a bad thing, but is it? The real problem is that Garner didn't distinguish himself as a tactician back then, making an impact more with his calming influence on the club. This current team needs more than an emotional impact, though. They need new thinking.
Don't feel too bad for Ed, Tal and Drayton. So they have to go to their second choice. It's not that bad. Corporations do it all the time. You think ESPN doesn't turn down their top choice for editorial gigs if they ask for more money? The guy just behind you on the pile can do the job about as well as you for the pay we're offering. How is that a bad decision? Plus, will Mills or Garner really be 'managing for their job' if they get just a two-year deal? Shouldn't they always be managing that way? Winning is what we want, it's what the players want, it's what Drayton wants. Why should his employee not want that same thing right away? Certainly, I'm not advocating firing someone before those two years are up, but there should be some urgency there, regardless if they have a contract or not.
Sure, Acta would have been a nice hire, but him going to Cleveland isn't the worst thing in the world. I have thought all kinds of unkind things about Drayton and the front office's lack of commitment to winning. Lately, it's the draft and international free agent spending that gets me the most. Still, I just don't see this as the case with Acta. Sure, everyone liked him, but obviously Drayton didn't like him enough. I'm sure Wade loved C.C. last offseason too, but you didn't see McLane backing up the wheelbarrow for Sabathia. Find me two starting pitchers and a good hitter for the left side of the infield and this offseason will be considered a success.
From Bryan Hoch:
George M. Steinbrenner watched from his Tampa, Fla., home as Mariano Rivera threw the final pitch of the American League Championship Series, sending the Yankees on to their first World Series in six years.The Boss also released this statement, which comes to us from Mark Feinsand:
The Yankees principal owner's first action was likely to celebrate the victory, vaulting New York into a Fall Classic against the Phillies that opens on Wednesday. His next call should have been to book a flight.
Steinbrenner, 79, will be on hand at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees put their 40th American League pennant into their back pocket and continue the march for their long-elusive 27th World Series title.
?The Yankees? enormous will to win, tremendous professionalism and great team spirit, backed by the best, most vocal and supportive fans have propelled us into the World Series," Steinbrenner said. "We?re looking forward to our 27th ring.?It will be great to see George back in the Bronx, hopefully the Yanks can give him a series opening win.
We continue on our journey through the Royals top prospects. In case you haven't yet committed the first part of the list to memory, here are #60-54:
54 Eduardo Paulino
I should have the next installment at the end of this week.
53--Nick Van Stratten--RF--Age:24
Nick grew up around KC and the Royals drafted him the 10th round out of a St. Louis community college (is that redundant?). Nick has moved slowly through the system reaching High-A this year at age 24. He has hit pretty well in the low minors but he is a year older than Billy Butler. Of course, Van Stratten can play the field and, from reports, does a pretty good job in RF. It would be great if he can start next year in AA and keep proving his bat.
On one hand you've got a guy who plays a premium position with some power. On the other hand, you've got a guy who strikes out a ton, doesn't walk much is old for the league. I've got him ranked pretty low because I think his numbers are going to implode at Burlington next year.
Catchers are notorious for having funky developmental patterns--their job on the field is so unique and demanding that they many times develop slower that other positions. McCauley was drafted in the 12th round in 2007 and hit well in Arizona in 2007. He didn't hit quite as well in Idaho Falls in 2008. And last year his numbers weren't very good before going down with an injury. He will probably go back to Burlington, Iowa and hopefully his bat will come around.
Before Bryce Harper, there was another player who wanted to leave HS behind a year early to play pro ball. Fernando Cruz is not nearly as heralded or talented but he took his GED qualified for the 2007 draft a year early and the Royals took him. Some thought he would be a 2nd round talent had he waited for the 2008 draft. He predictably struggled in his first couple of years but last year showed some promise with his bat. The Royals moved him to Catcher from 3rd Base. I haven't heard how his defense is. I'm guessing he will go to short-season Idaho Falls next year.
You don't replace Ross Gload. Eric Basurto just needs to play his game and Royals fans need to understand that you can't compare him to a former great. Basurto was our return for sending Gload to the Marlins (and eating his salary). As you can see from his stats, he K's a bunch of folks and walks a bunch of folks. He's got a fastball and that's about it. He won't make it without developing a secondary pitch.
Pedro Nivar was a relatively big international signing for us in 2008. He got six figures--which is now chicken feed on the international market. He's a SS and he posted a 233/380/291 line in the Dominican Summer League in 109 plate appearances after being injured. There isn't a lot to take away from this other than the 380 OBP is nice. Its not often you see an OBP 90 points higher than SLG--but there it is. He's toolsy and young and there is a something there to dream on at least. Best case scenario is that he plays next year in the Arizona Rookie League.
Cole White was our 6th Round draft choice in 2009 out of U. of New Mexico. He's a reliever with a sinking fastball in the 92-95 MPH range. He has developed a slider to go with it. Since he's a reliever he might be able to get by on those two pitches. He obviously needs better control but he has swing and miss stuff and could develop into a valuable reliever.
Clever ain't it?
Everyone is doing it though.
Second Act(a) or Re-Opening Acta.
It's been a bit of a whirlwind since yesterday when the Indians named Manny Acta their new manager. Everyone wants to chime in.
But make no mistakes about it. This is the beginning of a new era and it is bringing a bit of joy to the situation. There is hope and optimism and whether general Cleveland fan wants to admit it or not, there is cause to feel good about this club.
As is the case with anyone making an exciting new hiring. Sure you don't want to be in this situation, but the fact that you are means things have been really bad and there are just hopes for not feeling really bad.
So your joy in this new process comes out.
From my perspective, a lot of reasonable fans are either A) For this hiring or B) Aren't really disappointed.
A large portion of the fans that are ready to chop Shapiro's head off are irrational.
You can tell who's irrational and who's not just by reading their reasoning.
If they make clear of Acta's flaws, then they've got a point and are actually thinking and their opinion deserves to be considered.
If they are shouting random things in vain about the Nationals sucking, Shapiro being a dolt, or just bringing up Eric Wedge, then they have no clue what they are talking about and are just a casual Cleveland fan that doesn't take the time to educate themselves.
That is what really bothers me, for the most part.
Cleveland has many irrational fans, many fan bases do. But you combine irrationality with the collective impatience and pessimistic traits this fan base has and you have a bunch of overreactions, shouts of anger that make no sense and things blown completely out of proportion.
This isn't about that though, so let me get back on topic. It just frustrates me to no end to see fans losing faith before they have a right to even do so. You have no clue how this is going to work out, so stop being such a uneducated negative fan and giving Cleveland fans a bad rap. Who I'm talking to, I have no clue, but if you say "Yeah that's me" when reading this description, I'm talking to you.
Let's go around the web and iron this whole situation out and then pick up on some opinions that are informed.
Okay so this happened this way.
Houston had come to the conclusion that Manny Acta was their guy. They offered him a two year deal. Acta wanted a three year deal. Probably hearing that Acta was being offered the job from Houston, Mark Shapiro and Cleveland decided that Acta was too good to let slip away, so they offered him a three year deal.
Better situation, better contract, better everything if you ask me.
Houston would not budge on the two years, which made Acta's decision even easier. He's coming to Cleveland.
Now what made Shapiro and the Indians do this?
First with Valentine.. It became apparent he still wasn't quite sure if he wanted to do this or not. The Indians apparently were ready to bring him in for a second interview until the developments with Acta came around. That is probably when they scrapped the idea of Valentine and said forget it.
Torey Lovullo was the in-house candidate and considering there are only three jobs open and he was only in the running for this one, there is little doubt of him going anywhere this year. Still that wouldn't have effected their opinion. Shapiro wanted major league experience and Lovullo didn't have that. I still think he ends up on this staff though.
Don Matttingly, the final candidate, at least so we thought. He was expected to get scheduled for an interview this week, but again with Acta getting the offer the Indians had to speed this process up. Either they had to feel really good about one of the other three taking their job or they had to offer it. Mattingly's position may have been key because it appears he was only using Cleveland and Washington for leverage with the Dodgers. As if he was the heir apparent to Joe Torre and he wanted that commitment from them.
Why would the Indians risk not getting any of their men, including their favorite, just to interview Mattingly? It wasn't worth it, even if Lovullo was a fall-back option. Mattingly was a combination of Lovullo and Valentine. He had major league experience unlike Lovullo but he also didn't have an interest (according to rumors) in the Indians, like Valentine.
So I believe that's how this all unfolded and why Acta was hired on Sunday like that. The Indians loved him from the start and they didn't want to lose him to another team because they wanted to interview someone that doesn't actually want the job and badger someone else who didn't really want the job.
Acta wanted the job, he was the candidate they liked the most, so it was simple. Offer him a deal and don't let him go to Houston.
So here we are, like it or not, Manny Acta is the guy. Let's see what the world is saying this morning.
Scott Miller is one of the ones that doesn't get it.
The Indians have hired Manny Acta as manager, which clearly means one of two things:So while Miller isn't directly saying he thinks this is a bad hiring, he is leaving the door open to what everyone really is thinking. This is either a really brilliant move or a really stupid one. Fair enough for me.
Either Cleveland knows something Washington didn't.
Or the Nationals were more of a bottomless pit than even they knew.
Acta, 40, under-managed an already hopelessly over-matched team?
Or Acta has enough managerial chops to overcome even the Nationals' taint?
The Indians have committed themselves to finding out.
And one way or the other, I have a feeling, in the end, there won't be much middle ground here, either.
Here's what think of the Indians hiring Manny Acta -- I just don't know.Just remember that last paragraph, something I'll harp on for awhile. The general theme seems to be unknown and unsureness. Tony Lastoria's turn.
He certainly belongs on the all-interview team, as Houston also wanted to hire him. That's a lot of attention for a guy who was fired at mid-season with a 26-61 record in Washington. Other than the Nationals, his former franchise, the only teams looking for a manager were Houston and the Tribe.
Several successful managers had rocky starts to their careers, including Torre and Terry Francona. That's why it is a mistake to simply write off Acta based on what happened in Washington. Now, Acta gets another chance to manage, and the Indians are counting on him to make the most of it.
There are sure to be several detractors because of his poor record with Washington or because they wanted Bobby Valentine or some other name manager. But looking beyond all that, and looking at Manny Acta himself and how I really feel about his being named as manager, I honestly have no idea if I like the hiring or hate it.And I think Tony's last paragraph is the general consensus of the rational fans. We don't know what to think, but out of the group we had, as crazy as it sounds, he might have just been the best option for this team right now. Paul Cousineau's turn.
Most of this is because I know almost nothing firsthand about him other than that 158-252 win-loss record in Washington. And you know what? About 99.9% of us are probably in the same boat. We just don't know anything about this guy.
That said, I do think out of the final four candidates or all the guys they talked to throughout the interview process, that Acta was probably the best option available. That is not necessarily a pat on the back to Acta as this is mostly because it overall was a less than appealing crop of managerial options available to the Indians.
Truthfully, like any coaching hire, nobody really knows what to expect as Acta was unquestionably in control of his press conference with the assembled media and said all of the right things about all of the right people at all of the right times. How he goes about achieving all of those things - like fixing Fausto and getting some consistency out of Peralta - is where his baseball acumen will have to show, and quickly.Which is the central reason I want to bring in the final voice, for now.. Okay Hoynes, you can talk. For informational purposes only though.
Getting a read on him and making a snap judgment about whether he's the right man for the job borders on folly, but some clues about him and his strategies should begin to emerge with the first order of business - naming a coaching staff. The construction of the staff (according to the Front Office when this process started) is up to the newly named manager, and Acta has made it clear that he would have no problem bringing along coaches that are familiar (and successful) with the current batch of Indians - a category that the AAA troika of Columbus manager Torey Lovullo, Columbus hitting coach Jon Nunnally, and Columbus pitching coach Scott Radinsky all fall under.
Internal candidates for the coaching staff include Class AAA Columbus manager Torey Lovullo, pitching coach Scott Radinsky and hitting coach Jon Nunnally. Others include Dave Hudgens (field coordinator), Dave Miller (pitching coordinator), Class AA manager Mike Sarbaugh, Bruce Fields (hitting coordinator) and Gary Thurman (outfield/base-running coordinator).As Paul stated though.. This is where it all begins for Acta. Hiring the coaching staff. We've really had a fun time in Cleveland debating about coaching staffs and getting on Wedge for firing Eddie Murray and all that fun stuff. Complaining about Luis Isaac being let go. All that stuff. This is Acta's first attempt to impress the fans. While I don't think it will be just him putting this staff together, he has a large say in it and that's going to really help or hurt his outlook for many people.
Read The Full Article:
You guys saw Part 1, right? If you didn’t, here’s a recap:10. Chris Carpenter, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (6.08 WAR)9. Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers (5.93 WAR)8. Dan Haren, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (6.25 WAR)7. Javier Vazquez, RHP,[...]
Read The Full Article:
From Richard Sandomir:
ESPN fired Steve Phillips on Sunday, less than a week after a newspaper revealed that he had had an affair with a 22-year-old production assistant with the network.He was originally suspended but as ESPN said above, he could no longer effectively represent the company so he's gone. Hopefully the MLB Network doesn't hire him.
?Steve Phillips is no longer working for ESPN,? the network said in a statement. ?His ability to be an effective representative for ESPN has been significantly and irreparably damaged, and it became evident it was time to part ways.?
Word on the street is that Mark McGwire will be making a return to major league baseball.OK, actually nobody in South Florida is talking about this. Around the rest of the country, I’m not so sure either…But the people at Yahoo Sports are reporting that ‘Big Mac’ is set to return to the St. Louis [...]
Read The Full Article: