With the League Championship Series halfway through, the self-imposed deadline of installing a manager into the Cleveland Indians dugout is looming.
Mark Shapiro and company conducted eight to 10 phone interviews since the end of the regular season, the names of those interviewees still a mystery. Names have been thrown around, but three are for certain as the Indians have named three finalists for their vacated post.
The first is Manny Acta, who will be in Cleveland Tuesday for his sit down interview with the organization. The other two known names are Bobby Valentine and Travis Fryman. However, uncertainty is still the name of the game as Shapiro made it entirely possible that they would have three to five final candidates.
Throughout the week, I'll make a case for each finalist and give each candidate their ringing endorsement for why they should be named manager of the Cleveland Indians. It all starts now with former Nationals manager, Manny Acta.
Dealing with Young Frustration
Every manager deals with frustration.
But not every manager knows what it's like to deal with young frustration.
Frustration is when you can't get your team to hit for a stretch, or your best pitcher is going through a cold streak and making it difficult on your team to win games.
Young frustration is far more different and far more of a challenge to deal with, especially because it occurs on a day to day basis.
Has anyone had more dealings with young, inexperienced, and even perhaps unqualified talent as Manny Acta? When you head up the Nationals of the past few years, you are truly dealing with a plethora of young frustration.
And that's what young frustration is. It's the inexperienced, the unknown, the sometimes downright bad aspect of a team. The Nationals were horrible and everyone and their distant cousins knew this, including Acta. But what could he do about it? Nothing, and that is the frustration in it all.
His teams were so young and so bad, that there was just a slight amount of talk that Stephen Strasburg could go directly into the rotation after he was drafted No. 1 overall and signed by Washington in the 2009 MLB Draft.
That's an organization just looking for talent, let alone experienced talent. That is frustration that you know you can do nothing about, as hard as you try.
Why does all this matter?
For one, the Indians are going to be a very young team from the outset of things in 2010 and probably a few years after that with the talent they are expecting to bring up. There are people out there that can welcome the challenge of dealing with young players and not get frustrated themselves, and Acta is one of them.
If there is anyone that could be suited to handle what the challenges of being Cleveland's skipper are going to be, Acta would be one of the few.
This isn't a team that is going to be rebuilding, but it is a team that is expected to be infusing a lot of young talent into what already is a solid core. Players like Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Aaron Laffey are expected to be guys that have established somewhat of a base to build off that into something better.
Yet there are pieces around them that have been added, are expected to be added, or will be added in the coming years that are not quite there. So while the situation isn't one that will take an enormous amount of time, it is one that will require a period in which things will most definitely get rough.
Provided that the young enthusiasm that he brought over to Washington when he got his first managerial shot, I can't see Acta failing in the aspect of gaining the trust and love of his players. This was not a hard clubhouse to win over in Cleveland and that has nothing to do with Eric Wedge, but it's a fact that Mark Shapiro has established an organization of talented players, with the principle that they have good character.
There are managers in the game suited to win now or undertake a certain situation or apply a certain type of attitude. There are certain situations in which that type of candidate should be chosen.
It may be one of those times for one of those teams to hire one of those guys.
There are very few Ron Gardenhires in the world, someone you can count on to handle any situation given to him. There are very few organizations in the world where they need to go out and hire a guy that can undertake any situation.
Cleveland is not one of those teams looking for any situation at this juncture and unless they can find someone they are absolutely positive can be anything they need him to be, they aren't going to be hiring anyone like that.
Acta fits the situation and he fits the needed answer to the situation. Sometimes it just makes too much sense to not go with that line of thinking.
Other Ways of Convincing
While Acta's main reason surrounding his prior experiences in a situation similar to what just went down, that isn't the only reason that makes him suitable to handle Cleveland.
Let's start with a big positive that is working for him. The fact that he is bilingual and a relatively well-known figure within the Latin baseball community is something you cannot over look.
With three out of four infielders, three big prospects (one being a catcher), and two struggled pitchers all being Latin, there are plenty of reasons for the Indians to want someone like Acta who can relate well to these players.
Acta managed the Dominican Republic team for the World Baseball Classic in 2006. That just goes to show you what kind of respect the Dominican community has for him in terms of the game. Fausto Carmona, Jhonny Peralta, and Rafael Perez, all of whom struggled these past two years, could use someone from their country in their corner.
Not to mention, Peralta's been one to have a little bit of an issue communicating these past few years, especially with Eric Wedge. That could be totally beneficial in the aspect that Peralta is one of the Tribe's best hitters when he's playing well.
One of the criticisms that was brought up when Eric Wedge fired bullpen coach Luis Isaac after the 2008 season was his bond with the Latin players in the clubhouse. That bond would be restored heavily and it might even play positives towards getting guys like Fausto Carmona and Rafael Perez back on track.
When you boil things down, everyone's best baseball is always played when they are comfortable. Nothing makes a player more comfortable than knowing their manager understands them and he understands his players.
The Latin players wouldn't be the only one's gaining something out of this marriage. The boss of them all, Mark Shapiro, would be getting something he desires in hiring Acta.
Shapiro is part of the new-age of general managers in the game. He likes his excel spreadsheets and using his Ivy League education to determine a lot of his front office moves. He isn't a full-on sabermetric, money ball, Billy Beane-type mastermind that does things based largely off numbers.
But he does use them to his advantage and he does take a lot of stock into the numbers aspect of the game. This is something that Acta is said to embrace, something he is not afraid to employ when looking at the game.
This is someone who reads publications like Baseball Prospectus, someone that is very much new-school for a young team.
Many will try and put down the idea of Acta because of his failures with Washington. Reasons being given such as, "Washington was worse than Cleveland, what did he exactly do that Eric Wedge didn't?"
Acta did good things for a team that was not supposed to be good in his first year with the Nationals. Things went bad, but the talent got worse. There is such a thing as learning from your mistakes or learning from the past and Acta might be able to take what transpired with the Nationals and do something with it.
He's a few years older than he was when he got his first managerial job in the majors, but he's still a young guy in the realms of skippers at this level. So he had some learning to do. If anything though, he's a fresh face that seems to possess a lot of the ideals Mark Shapiro wants, yet someone who will also try and challenge a new way of thinking in the organization.
The case for Manny Acta is a strong one and it's no wonder he's one of Cleveland's favorites.