Will They Stay or Will They Go?

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, September 26, 2008 | 5 comments »

If you're out trolling on the internets after the misery from the City of Brotherly Love, here's something to whet your whistle for Monday's post-season announcements. From Nats Journal:

Manny Acta said today that some on his coaching staff will not be back next season. "Changes are going to be made," Acta said. The manager said not specify which of his assistants would be let go, and said the team was not yet ready to make an announcement. Such a determination, though, marks the first sign of change entering the offseason; last year, at this same time, Acta met with General Manager Jim Bowden and several other front office members and emerged from the meeting by announcing that everybody on his staff would return.

All of Acta's assistants have been with the team for at least two years. One team official called the staff the "worst in baseball."

I'd really like to know which team official made that last statement. I'm sure you all can guess just as well as I can which coaches are most on the hot seat at this point. But let's review position-by-position:

Pat Corrales , Bench Coach: Second season as bench coach, appointed by Manny Acta. Corrales is a venerable baseball man, finishing his 50th season in professional baseball. Is it time for him to take the retirement he so obviously has earned?

Jerry Morales, First Base Coach: Second season as first base coach, appointed by Acta. The two worked together in Montreal as well. Morales and Corrales are Acta's two experienced lieutenants.

Randy St. Claire, Pitching Coach: Has been with the franchise for six seasons, the longest tenured coach on the staff. The starters were generally better than expected this year, depsite starting journeymen and untested rookies. The bullpen, however, was an unmitigated disaster.

Tim Tolman, Third Base Coach: Second season as third base coach, appointed by Acta. Tolman also coordinates spring training and has plenty of experience dealing with minor leaguers, but 2007 was his first year on a big league coaching staff.

Lenny Harris, Hitting Coach: Took over for Mitchell Page in 2007, was originally staffed as minor league infield coordinator. One of the best pinch-hitters in his long major league career.

Rick Aponte, Bullpen Coach: Second season, appointed by Acta. Nationals are his only major league coaching gig. Generally well-liked by bullpen staff and pitchers. Is a pitching coach with Licey in the Dominican Winter League, winners of the 2008 Caribbean League title.

Who stays? Who goes? Does it depend on the General Manager? Of course it does. Monday will be a very interesting day in Nationals history, and this announcement tonight is just the tip of the iceberg.


  1. Steven // September 26, 2008 at 10:42 PM  

    Your post indicates that everyone but St. Claire was hired by Acta. Were they hired during Acta's tenure or hired BY ACTA?

    I've read conflicting things on whether Manny has the power to hire his own coaches or not.

  2. Dave Nichols // September 26, 2008 at 10:48 PM  

    i took the information straight from how it was worded on MLB.com's coaches page. i've heard the conflicting reports as well, so i had to take the info on MLB.com at face value.

    either way, there's going to be some change, and it promises to be interesting. it would not shock me if eveyone but St. Claire is released.

  3. Steven // September 26, 2008 at 10:55 PM  

    When I asked Rizzo why don't they let Manny hire his own coaches he said something like, "I think they're all his" but he seemed unsure.

    Maybe the deal is that Manny inherited St. Claire and Mitchell Page and maybe some others but now it's down to just St. Claire and Manny was allowed to hire replacements.

  4. An Briosca Mor // September 26, 2008 at 11:20 PM  

    I believe that when Acta was hired I read that they wanted him to have an experienced bench coach given his own inexperience as a big league manager. Corrales is the guy they got, but I don't know whether it was Bowden or Acta who officially chose him. Either way, it seems he has worked out well and is generally acknowledged to have been instrumental in the development of Flores. I doubt he would be fired, but I could see him deciding on his own to hang it up after 50 years in baseball.

    I could easily see Harris and Tolman being let go or reassigned. St. Claire isn't going anywhere. The rest of them I don't know much about. What exactly does a first base coach do, anyway, other than collect batters' gloves and such after they reach base?

  5. Dave Nichols // September 26, 2008 at 11:54 PM  

    ABM, typically the first base coach is also the base-running coach, and in the Nats case, Jerry Morales also is the outfielders coach. pitch-by-pitch this season he directed Lastings Milledge where to stand prior to the next pitch. Kearns, Dukes and Harris were all fairly accomplished defenders to begin with. Milledge's improvement this season, or lack thereof, has been at the hands of Morales.