Monday, July 13, 2009

Nationals Fire Manny Acta

Last month, I wondered who would face the axe first - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown or Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta.

Well, Gordon Brown is still working out of 10 Downing Street.

Last night, the Nationals fired Acta. Going into the All-Star Break, the Nats had the worst record in MLB with a mark of 26-61, 22½ games behind the defending World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

It appeared Acta was out the door a month ago but he got a reprieve when the Nats unexpectedly won three out of four games against the New York Yankees in the Bronx. The euphoria was shortlived however. The Nats have lost 15 of their last 20 games and while they might not be as bad as the 1962 New York Mets they are not nearly as interesting.

Nationals bench coach Jim Riggleman will manage the team for the rest of the 2009 season. Riggleman found himself in a similar role a year ago after he took over the reins of the Seattle Mariners in June after the firing of John McLaren. Riggleman has also managed the San Diego Padres and the Chicago Cubs. He led the Cubs to the NL Wild Card in 1998.

Riggleman has the annoying habit of employing a five man infield. It's a move that almost never works.

In any event, methinks Riggleman will be a caretaker manager with someone else calling the shots in 2010. When it appeared Acta was done last month there was talk about former Texas Rangers and New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine shaking things up. Valentine currently manages in Japan for the Chiba Lotte Marines. Valentine is many things. Boring is not one of them. He has also has a habit of turning losing teams into contenders.

The only way I see Riggleman remaining as the Nats skipper beyond 2009 is if he somehow keeps the team from losing 100 games this season. Now that would be an accomplishment.

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