July 13, 2009

Final Acta

The Nationals did something pointless. Dog bites man.

Did Manny Acta "deserve" to get fired? Being 26-61 in the midst of a third consecutive losing season is a strong argument in favor of making changes. But does anyone honestly expect a significant improvement from the Nats in the 2nd half?

I've spilled far too many bytes on the Acta situation already. The manager doesn't pitch, he doesn't hit, he doesn't field. He can't go out there and close out games himself. He can't make Adam Dunn anything more than an indifferent fielder. (Sure, he could bench Dunn to send a "message" to the club, but what would that message be, exactly?)

More worrisome than the firing itself is the atmosphere surrounding the team. Remember that Acta was allegedly supposed to fired a month ago, only to be left hanging when Ken Rosenthal and others "broke the story." So did Stan Kasten stay the execution for 30 days in a fit of pique at the media? If not, what happened between then and now that cost Manny his job?

With Manny out, the last barrier between Stan Kasten and accountability is gone. Kasten talks a good game about being responsible for everything that has gone wrong over the past 3 years, but I missed the part where he offered his resignation after showing Jim Bowden, Randy St. Claire and Acta the door in the space of a few months. Mike Rizzo is an interim GM. Jim Riggleman is a stop-gap manager. This is Stan Kasten's team now, for worse or worse.

Reaction from the Natosphere has been measured and mixed. General consensus: Manny was dealt a lousy hand, but still didn't play it all that well. Brian Oliver makes a good case for giving a new manager a three month audition rather than recycling a retread like Riggleman. But that would require the Nats doing something smart, now wouldn't it?

I'm awfully close to the point of hoping the team screws up the Strasburg negotiations so I can finally write this organization off and go back to enjoying my summers.

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