A broad roundup of the events of today, interspersed with some thoughts on the direction of the club right now. You get the feeling the Acta firing is only the tip of the iceberg, though it appears that the people making the front office decisions will stay in place.
For those who missed Antonetti's press conference, Paul Hoynes provides the highlights. The biggest pieces of news - besides the dismissal of Acta, of course...
- Sandy Alomar will serve as interim manager for the last week of the season
- Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh, who joined the club after the AAA season ended, will fill the role as bench coach for the remaining six games.
The main reason Acta was fired with six games left:
- The Indians fired Acta with six games left because they have a series of meetings with the players and the coaching staff scheduled this week. Antonetti didn't want Acta sitting through those meeting with his fate already sealed.
One interesting question/answer
Asked how he managed to keep his job, while Acta was fired, Antonetti said, "It's probably a better question for someone else, but what I can tell you is I'm accountable for those decisions. Certainly many of the decisions we made haven't worked out as well as we hoped. At the same time, I continue to believe in the talent we have on this roster. I'm hopeful that the group of guys we have here will do better."
By allowing Antonetti to both fire Acta and hire his replacement, it seems clear to me that Antonetti will retain his position. In the piece, Hoynes confirms this - both Antonetti and Shapiro will be back for the 2013 season.
I'm to the point where I'd rather have the house cleaned, because while the Indians need a lot of help, there's some pieces there (like Choo and Cabrera) that if traded for the right return would make getting back into contention a lot quicker than with a situation that Houston found themselves in. And given the massive roster turnover that seems inevitable, by retaining the current front office, you're essentially committing the direction of the team to them over the next 3-4 years, because some of the moves made this winter will have that effect. The Indians of 2012 were very much determined by the moves made in 2008/2009, for instance.
The basic news story of the dismissal, also with some quotes from the press conference, as well as from Acta, who talked via phone to reporters:
"My challenge going forward is not going to be to find another job," Acta said, "it's going to be where to find better people to work for and better people to work with. Unbelievable people from top to bottom, from ownership to the bat boy. I had a great three years of relationships here and have no regrets and no bitterness.
"It's part of the business. I understand it. I was hired to win as many games as I could. I gave my best."
When Wedge was fired, I felt a sense of relief. With Acta, I'm a little sad to see him go. Maybe that's because the public persona Acta had was a lot more congenial than Wedge's, though managers aren't judged by the quality of their press conferences.
With the team still around, there was plenty of players to get reactions from.
"It's unfortunate that this had to happen," designated hitter Travis Hafner said. "It was just a bad second half. The players are the ones out there playing. They're ultimately responsible for how the team does. We're the ones who take the blame. It's unfortunate when coaches lose their job and things like that."
That's a standard answer, and one it's hard to quibble with, but there was this...
After one recent loss in Cleveland, Acta headed down the dugout steps into the clubhouse, grabbed a trash can and threw it with such force that it shattered a coffee maker that rested on a countertop. During the Tribe's nine-game losing streak in August, Acta called a team meeting in Seattle and showed a mix of passion and anger that surprised his players.
"That was nice to see," said one player, "but by that time, the damage had really been done."
We're only going to get small glimpses into what went on in the clubhouse, but the takeaway from this quote seems to be that the Indians players as a group needed a kick in the rear end, but Acta didn't deliver it until it was too late. The Indians were in Seattle in late August, and by that time it was indeed way too late to salvage the season.
From Mark Shapiro:
Very difficult day due to our respect for Manny.Decisions like these r indicative of poor performance across org and players.— Mark Shapiro (@MarkShapiro) September 27, 2012
One of only levers u can pull w potential for broader change is the manager. Not easy but decision should indicate our desire to improve— Mark Shapiro (@MarkShapiro) September 27, 2012
Pretty standard response (even if it's twitterized), but you do get the sense that pressure is being felt to improve the team quickly.
So no sooner was the announcement made was that the speculation over Acta's replacement begun, especially given that one of the prime candidates for the position will be manning the bench the rest of the season.
Very revealing piece, which touched on the inner workings of the clubhouse:
And for this particular assemblage of Indians players, Alomar is an ally. It’s not exactly fair, but the current crop of players seemed to sour on Acta. They didn’t feel he stuck up for them enough on blown or controversial calls. They didn’t feel he associated with them enough in the clubhouse.
Indeed, it’s telling that, several hours after the news of his dismissal had gone public, Acta had only heard from one of his players offering condolences.
At the end of the article, Castrovince advises the Indians to just make Alomar's new role permanent and spend the time and energy they would have expended going through the interview process on improving the talent on the roster.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Indians had already had preliminary contact with Terry Francona. The Indians and Francona have ties - Terry played briefly for the Indians, his father had his best seasons with the Indians, and he worked for the Indians back in 2001. With the Angels unlikely to fire Mike Scioscia, the Indians might be the most appealing option for Francona.