If you read espn.com, after checking out The Nationals Review, of course, or watch Sportscenter after you’re done watching MASN you may have noticed that people are starting to talk about Manny Acta. Not people like me, who have a reason to talk about him every week, even though I rarely do. I mean people who are sports writers, who get paid to talk about baseball, who have national audiences of millions of people. But wait, isn’t this team like, the worst in baseball? No, and that’s why everyone is so impressed Manny. They were supposed to be the worst team of all time, or at least one of the top worstest. Instead, the aren’t even the worst in the league. Right now they have a better record than seven teams in the league!
One thing Acta has done exceptionally well, that nobody can argue with (intelligently), is handle the pitching staff. Whether he is listening to everything Randy St. Claire suggests or he’s doing it all on his own, he is doing a great job with the bullpen and the staff in general, other than the injuries, which likely aren’t his fault. The bullpen success has been so good that even people outside of DC have acknowledged this. Other than talk nice about Zimmerman, I wasn’t sure sportswriters were allowed to talk about anything Nationals-related. But back to the point of what I was saying, which is that Acta has put together a very successful bullpen with only one known solid reliever (Chad Cordero), some guys picked up off the scrap heap (Jon Rauch and Jesus Colome), one guy brought up who basically spent a half a dozen years in AA (Saul Rivera), and one talented pitcher who was coming off a significant stint on the disabled list (Luis Ayala). What’s nice about that group of names, is while none of them may be shut em down closers, is that they are a group of 5 pitchers that you can feel confident putting in to finish up games. Remeber, this is something that very few, if any, other teams can claim.
I’m not saying that Acta deserves the award. I find it tough to give an award like this to someone who manages a team that doesn’t have a winning record. But I think he is deserving of being on the short list, and regardless of whether he wins or not (and my money’s on “not”) he is doing a great job in what is, remember, his rookie season as a manager.