The Cleveland Indians announced Thursday that they have relieved manager Manny Acta of his duties with six games to go in the season. Bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. will replace Acta for the final two series of the year.
Acta, who was hired prior to the 2010 season, finished his Indians tenure with a 214-266 record. His Indians were a mere three games back in the AL Central on July 21, but quickly dropped 21 of their next 25 games, falling out of contention. Despite taking two of three in Chicago to knock the White Sox out of first place this week, the Tribe has already lost 91 games this season and are tied with Minnesota for last place in the division.
The Indians were the story of baseball during the first half of 2011, carrying the best record in the sport for most of that time. Cleveland fell back to the pack and faltered late in the season and wound up finishing 80-82 and in second place, a full 15 games behind Detroit. 2012 began with high hopes, and the Tribe performed reasonably well despite an array of injuries and a decidedly left-handed roster, which put them at a serious disadvantage versus left handed pitching. When the wheels fell off later in the season, however, Acta and his players couldn’t stop the bleeding.
Team owner Paul Dolan, who earlier this month had stated the club wasn’t looking to make a change with Acta, seemed to indicate that the decision was made entirely by GM Chris Antonetti.
“I have great respect for Manny and appreciate the effort he exhibited not only leading our team, but also the contributions he made in our community over the past three years,” Dolan said in a statement. “I fully support Chris’ decision to make this change and am confident that he will lead a tireless search to find the right individual to lead the club to our ultimate goal of winning the World Series.”
In all honesty, however, Cleveland’s failure had much more to do with some ill-advised trades and free agent signings made by Antonetti than anything Acta did or didn’t do. It wasn’t Acta who opted to re-sign Grady Sizemore this past winter, only to watch as he missed the whole year. It wasn’t Acta who figured adding Derek Lowe, Russ Canzler, and Casey Kotchman was enough of an upgrade to a mediocre club that played over their heads in 2011. And it certainly wasn’t Acta who pulled the trigger on a deal to obtain Ubaldo Jimenez from Colorado last season; a move that has been nothing short of disaster.
How many games was Acta supposed to win in a division where his front office is the fifth-best of five and his farm system is one of the worst in baseball. Antonetti and Dolan have steadfastly refused to spend money to supplement the major league roster, but they dealt away the only two legitimate prospects they had in the Jimenez deal.
The Indians may very well turn to Alomar to guide the ship going forward, but unless Dolan opens up his checkbook, the club won’t be in better hands than they were under Acta’s watch. Of course, given Antonetti’s track record, maybe Dolan is right not to trust his GM to make sound decisions with the Dolan money.
Antonetti fired Acta because the Indians went into the tank in the second half, and there is no arguing that point. But Antonetti also fired his manager in order to take the heat off his own job.
Antonetti handed Acta a flawed roster, then fired him for not being able to work a miracle.