Should Acta be given the gate?
Manna Acta's managerial career with the Cleveland Indians should end, as there is a capable replacement in Mike Sarbaugh in the waiting.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, in early September a source said that Indians ownership was unhappy about the Indians' second-half collapse. This came a couple of weeks after Paul Dolan, the Indians' ECO, gave Acta, general manager Chris Antonetti and club president Mark Shapiro the dreaded votes of confidence.
Heyman wrote in his article, "Now, with the team 4-12 since the younger Dolan's vote of confidence, Acta's job security seems even less certain." The team has not righted the ship since that time, and it seems as if Acta's job is indeed in jeopardy, or at least, should be.
Here are three reasons why the Indians should fire Acta and replace him with current Columbus Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh.
Manny Acta is an Ineffective Manager
During his six years of managing the Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians, Acta has a managerial record of 371-518, amounting to a winning percentage of .417.
In his three years with the Indians, the Tribe is 213-266, which is a .445 winning percentage.
It could certainly be argued that Acta has never had the talent on the field he has needed to put up better winning records, but the fact is that Acta has never had a winning season in his managerial career.
How much blame should be placed on Manny Acta for the lack of success of the Indians in 2012?
It seems as if he is unwilling to change his managerial tactics to adjust to his talent and is unable to help improve the performance of his players.
In 2012 the Indians are tied for 23rd in MLB in runs scored per game at 4.05, tied for 22nd in home runs with 132, tied for 25th in slugging percentage and tied for 24th in team batting average with runners in scoring position at .237.
This seems to be a classic case of if you don't have mashers on your team, then you need to manufacture runs and get really good at the sacrifice bunt. Acta has been unwilling to adapt to his team's weakness in producing runs.
Manny Acta does not like his players to lay down the sacrifice bunt, as he talks about here on fangraphs.com, and that is proven by the Indians' dead-last ranking in MLB in sacrifice bunts.
As for the pitching staff? The Tribe ranks 28th in team ERA at 4.80, fifth in most walks allowed at 519, 28th in team WHIP at 1.42, fourth in most wild pitches allowed at 63 and have allowed the third most stolen bases at 134.
Acta also has been ineffective in improving the performance of his players. One glaring example is Ubaldo Jimenez. The Indians have been working on making Jimenez's mechanics more consistent throughout the course of the year, with no results.
We certainly can't lay all the blame on Acta for Jimenez's struggles. Most of it lays with Jimenez himself for his failures, but we can put some of the responsibility for the lack of Jimenez's ability to perform on Acta's shoulders.
The Cleveland Indians need to change the losing culture and replace Manny Acta with someone with a winning pedigree. The Indians have such a candidate in their minor league system.
Mike Sarbaugh Has Won at Every Level
In contrast to Manny Acta, Sarbaugh has won at every level he has managed. According to baseball-reference.com, he has compiled a total record of 697-511 for a winning percentage of .577.
Broken down by level, his record has been as follows:
Low-A (one season): 42-34, .553 winning percentage
Single-A (one season): 72-66, .522
High-A (two seasons): 172-106, .619
Double-A (two seasons): 169-115, .595
Triple-A (three seasons): 242-190, .560
A very solid winning record indeed if you only look at the records.
Sarbaugh has not only won games consistently at every level, but has won titles at almost every level as well. He only missed winning a championship at the Single-A level.
According to Baseball Reference, Sarbaugh has compiled the following championships:
2004: Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Low-A), league champs
2006: Kinston Indians (High-A), league champs
2009: Akron Aeros (Double-A), league champs
2010: Columbus Clippers, league and national champs (Triple-A has a single championship game between the champions of the International League and Pacific Coast League to determine the overall Triple-A champion.)
2011: Clippers, league and national champs
Sarbaugh has a winning mindset and molds his teams into championship-caliber units. It can't be a coincidence that he has won championships at almost every level he has managed. This is the type of pedigree that the Indians need to see in their next manager.
Sarbaugh Has Had Experience Managing the Younger Players
At mostly the Triple-A level, Sarbaugh has had success managing current Indians players and hopefully future stars that have not had a big impact yet.
In 2010 Sarbaugh managed current Indians Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana, Matt LaPorta, Ezequiel Carrera, Vinnie Pestano, Zach McAllister and Joe Smith.
In 2011 and 2012 Sarbaugh managed some of these same players along with possible future key players Jason Kipnis (2011), Russ Canzler (2012 only), Cody Allen (2012), Nick Hagadone, Corey Kluber and David Huff.
These players were all a part of winning teams, and most had a part in winning championships with Sarbaugh at the helm.
Sarbaugh must have instilled a winning attitude and had something that propelled the teams he managed.
I'm sure Manny Acta wants to win just as much as Sarbaugh does. The difference? For whatever reason, Sarbaugh has consistently done it while Acta has never done it. Sarbaugh has had success getting good production from players at the minor league level who have not had the same success in the majors.
For example, Matt LaPorta has had more success at the minor league level than the major league level. From 2010-2012 in Triple-A under Sarbaugh, LaPorta averaged a slash line of .356/.417/.629 in an average of 40 games played (121 total games).
Granted these average numbers are inflated by LaPorta's 18 games appeared in during 2010 and two games in 2011, but it is interesting that he has had good success under Sarbaugh, whereas under Acta, he has not had nearly the same success.
From 2009 to 2012, LaPorta posted a slash line of .238/.302/.393 under Acta in an average of 72 games played in per season (288 games).
Sure the pitching is a lot more polished and the stuff is considerably better in the major leagues, but maybe Sarbaugh has had a direct impact on why LaPorta has had some success in the minors.
It would be worth seeing if Sarbaugh could maximize the potentials of LaPorta and other young players like Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jeanmar Gomez, Zach McAllister and Michael Brantley.
It appears as if Sarbaugh has already helped Kipnis. Bill Lubinger of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported last year that Kipnis said of Sarbaugh:
He's helped me with loads of things. One thing he's probably helped with the most is the mental aspect of the game -- maybe not toning it down, but calming down and not putting so much emphasis on every single at-bat. He really kind of helped me see how long a journey a season really is.
Bottom line: Manny Acta is not getting the job done.
The Indians have a replacement in their minor league system who has an amazing championship pedigree who has won championships with players that are currently on the Indians' big-league roster. He has also managed players (Carlos Carrasco, Hector Rondon, Jeanmar Gomez) who will hopefully thrive with the Indians in the future.
The culture of losing needs to change, and it needs to change now.
Mike Sarbaugh is the ideal candidate for the job. If the Indians don't hire him to be their next manager, another team will.
If that happens, I could see him turning around a struggling franchise a la Bob Melvin with the Oakland A's or Buck Showalter with the Baltimore Orioles.
That would be excruciatingly painful to watch.
Current Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall said in the Plain Dealer article, "I know he'll be in the major leagues some day, and he'll be there a long time."
Let's hope the uniform he will be wearing will be that of the Cleveland Indians because Mike Sarbaugh could be the guy to help turn around the struggling franchise of the Cleveland Indians.