The Manny Acta Interview

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, June 11, 2010 | , , , | 1 comments »

The Washington Nationals travel to Cleveland this weekend for an interleague series with the Indians, led by former Nats skipper Manny Acta.  Acta was relieved of his duties in Washington at last season's all-star break after compiling a 26-61 record in 2009 and 158-252 for his two and a half seasons at the helm.

Nats News Network caught up with Acta over e-mail this week and the new man in charge for Cleveland was gracious enough answer a few questions for the blog.

1) How is Cleveland working out, record not withstanding?

I'm enjoying Cleveland. Just like in DC I live in a great area, Westlake, OH. I can't ask for better people to work for, first class organization with a good farm system. The future is bright.

2) You’re really been hit with injuries to key players, how difficult has it been to “patch” up your lineup?

Life is not easy without [Outfielder Grady] Sizemore and [Shortstop Asdrubal] Cabrera, but nothing is more valuable than experience. I went thru it in DC in '08 when we lost Zim [Ryan Zimmerman], Nick [Johnson], DY [Dmitri Young], [Austin] Kearns, [Chad] Cordero, [Jesus] Flores, etc. It opens the door for the young kids and you just have to battle with what you have. Rebuilding clubs can't survive those type of injuries; there's not enough depth or money to go out and trade or sign three or four players.

3) You’ve given a few ex-Nats a shot over there. Coincidence?

Not a coincidence. It is better to deal with familiar people, especially if they have played hard for you in the past. I knew that Kearns was hurt the last two years in DC. He tried to play thru it because that's who he is--a gamer who felt bad not playing after signing that big contract. He had surgery on his thumb and we felt that if he was healthy he was going to help us. Saul [Rivera] was tremendous my first two years in DC, always took the ball and is a great teammate. [Anderson] Hernandez is a valuable back up infielder and just like Saul and AK, no problem on or off the field.

4) How difficult a decision was it to go to Cleveland and pass up Houston, where you have so many ties?

Toughest decision I've ever made in my life. I grew up being an Astros fan, they signed me, made me a coach, and ended up spending 16 years in that organization. I owe to them who I am today, plus I met my wife because of them. So it was a depressing day for me, but at the end, I had to separate my head from my heart.

5) Do you see any similarities between the situation you have in Cleveland and what you had with the Nationals? Any vast differences?

The two situations are different; my first two years in DC were about finding out who was going to join Zim in the core group for the rebuilding process, that included some tough times with the pitching staff, both years for our starting rotation we were counting on John Patterson and Shawn Hill to be the front men... both got hurt and we had to patch it up with reclamation projects and some very young guys ([Shairon] Martis, [Ross] Detwiler, [John] Lannan, J. Zimm [Jordan Zimmermann], [Craig] Stammen, [Garrett] Mock, [Matt] Chico, etc.). The experience helped some of them, but it was hard to compete against the other clubs. Here, I have a few more guys to start the process; [Grady] Sizemore, [Shin-Soo] Choo, [Travis] Hafner, [Asdrubal] Cabrera, [Jhonny] Peralta, [Fausto] Carmona, [Jake] Westbrook, [Kerry] Wood, etc.... plus our farm system is a little deeper than what we had overthere in '07.

6) Is there anything you regret about your tenure with the Nationals?

No regrets. I'm proud of what I accomplished in DC, I did my best, stayed true to myself, never complained about the rosters that I was handed, and most importantly: Never embarrased The Nats, their fans or my family on or off the field. 

7) Anything you might miss about the Nats/DC?

I miss the fans, they were very patient and supportive of me and my family, I met some great people there that I can consider true friends. I miss my townhouse in Alexandria, VA. But the toughest thing was separating my wife and father-in-law from my wife's two sisters and brother--they all live in the DC area.

8) With the way things went in spring training 2009 with all the distractions, do you think you really got the best shot to succeed in DC?

We tried to stay away from whatever happened, and for the most part the players weren't affected by it. Pitching sets the tone and we just had a tough time replacing Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch. Once they were gone our bullpen was vulnerable, and I felt that that was our strength when I first arrived.

9) Who are you looking forward to catching back up with around the batting cages this weekend?

I'm looking forward to catch up with Guzzie [Cristian Guzman], [Willie] Harris, [Jim] Riggleman, and congratulate Ian Desmond while also thanking him for introducing me to Malcolm Gladwell's books.

10) Have you had a chance to keep up with the Nats this season? Any general comment on their play thus far?

Once in a while.  I'm in the AL now, so I spend most of my time following my division. I'm happy for their success, fans deserve it and Jim Riggleman is one of the best human beings on the planet.

11) Did you get a chance to see Strasburg last night? What do you think of the impact of his debut—with all the hype—on baseball in general?

Stras is a gifted human being--incredibly talented.  The buzz generated by him is good for the game and especially for The Nats, and I'm very happy that those fans have a lot to cheer about nowdays...

All Photos 2010 © Cheryl Nichols Photography/
Nationals News Network. All Rights Reserved


  1. Anonymous // June 13, 2010 at 5:27 PM  

    Great interview, and shows a lot about why I'm definitely rooting for Manny to do well. By the end, I think that he had run out of ideas and lost his locker room. I'm certainly glad that they made the necessary change.

    It says a lot about him, though, that he landed on his feet as quickly as he did. Classy and positive guy, and he should be better in the American League and better with the right roster.