Manny Acta Lights Up the Crowd at Town Hall Meeting

Manny Acta Townhall 2Newly acquired Indians skipper Manny Acta took to the stage last night for a crowd of season ticket holders for what was deemed a town hall meeting.  Acta gave a few of his thoughts, steered by Sports Time Ohio’s Matt Underwood, but then proceeded to take questions from the audience for a special that will be aired at a later date.  But then once the lights and cameras were turned off, Acta entertained roughly an hour of more questions from the crowd that ranged from lineup and rotation issues all the way down to the health of specific players and what fans can expect going forward.

Similar to the Browns’ Mike Holmgren, Acta owned the room for the full hour and a half, earning the praise of those in attendance.  The manager of only a few months  received an ovation early on and was deemed a “breath of fresh air” by a specific fan later in the meeting.  At one point in the evening, Acta reflected on his “idol,” Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox.  And for the duration of the night, fans were treated to an outspoken, gregarious and optimistic head coach that told jokes, gave insight and even went as far as to return the favor by asking fans questions.

Acta discussed his philosophies as a coach and that he refuses to make a team of players conform to his way of doing things.

“You have to manage to what you have,” said Acta.  “Ideally you want to have balance between speed and power and this team has a lot of things that I like.”

The question Acta was answering focused on his predecessor’s unwillingness to steal bases, or at least the perception was that he was not as aggressive as some would have preferred.

“The New York Mets are among the league leaders in stolen bases – mostly due to Jose Reyes,” Acta said.  “Obviously, this doesn’t translate into winning.”

Instead, Acta prefers to focus on players that can get from first base to third base or from second base to the plate on hits.  The outward coach claimed that the Indians have “the luxury” of not being a typical American League team in that they can mix in some small ball.  Whether this is a testament to the lack of power at certain positions remains to be seen, but what did become evident is the appreciation that Acta has for right fielder Shin-Soo Choo.

Manny Acta Townhall 1Choo, as tweeted late last night, is reportedly in the final stages of becoming an American citizen.  Currently a citizen of South Korea, Choo has a military obligation to fulfill if he remains within said status.  This was an issue that was very important to Acta upon taking the job as the manager claimed that it was one of the first questions he had for Mark Shapiro.  Upon completion, the 27-year old Choo will be a mainstay within the Cleveland outfield as the team looks to compete within the AL Central.

Another topic of interest was Acta’s feelings towards new media.  Having the chance to take advantage of the open forum, we were greeted with understandably mixed emotions.  Acta first referenced the changing technology when it comes to statistical analysis as well as medical devices, but also referenced Facebook and Twitter as well as blogs.  Having daughters, Acta understands the allure of the various social mediums, but feels that the impact on sports is not a positive one. 

“Players are afraid to leave their homes,” Acta stated.  “We had a player on our team this offseason who was impacted by [new media].  I mean get a life, read a book or something.”

Acta referenced the “old days” when players could have a beer with fans or media members.  Now, players fear doing such for these reasons.

“Now, you have fans that are just waiting with their camera phones, waiting to put pictures on the Internet,” Acta said.  “And once it’s out there, it’s out there – there’s nothing the player can do.”

Other points worth mentioning:

– Do not count out Rafael Perez starting at some point later in the season.

“From a health standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to have him start out of spring training,” said Acta.  “But he is going to go into spring training as a reliever.”

– On the lead-off spot and Grady Sizemore…

“It’s a process,” Acta said.  “I know how you all feel about certain kids, but we have to wait it out.  I’m not opposed to certain things – we are not blind to it.  We will let the players make the decisions for us.”

– On five catchers being on the 40-man roster, Acta repeatedly referred to newly-signed Mike Redmond as a leadership role, almost as if he was going to be a player-coach to help Sandy Alomar work with the younger catchers – the “Marsons and the Toregas'”.  Lou Marson continues to be pegged as the opening day starter and Carlos Santana will head to Triple-A regardless of performance in spring training.

– The team tried “very hard” to sign Jamey Carrol, but he felt his opportunities would be better in Los Angeles.

– He is as concerned about the rotation as the fans, but is extremely high on the bullpen due to the “power arms that miss bats.”  The Indians were among the league leaders in average innings per start in 2009, but the bullpen imploded.  Acta is optimistic that a reversal of fortune will come from the ‘pen.

– Those concerned about the start to the season will be relieved to know that there is a plan in place to make sure that the team does not stall out of the gate.  Plan on starters playing more often and more innings in spring training, and there will be a focus on winning.  Will Acta play Grady Sizemore for nine innings during a preseason game?  No.  But he will make sure that the team is able to hit the ground running in 2010.

(photos via WFNY)

  • Chris

    Honest to God, I can’t help but feel that the Indians are setting up Acta to fail. He certainly appears to be an upgrade to Wedge though.

  • Karsten

    I like this guy. I really do, he’s bringing the right attitude and positive feelings to the team already. I trust him when he says he’s gonna let the players decide for themselves what the lineup looks like. This is what I’ve been saying while everyone else has been crying and complaining, and I’m so glad that he’s on board with it. Keep your head up, and confidence out of the gate will make a huge difference.

  • JJ

    I’ve never heard of half of these guys and the ones I do know are way past their prime.

  • Scott

    If I came away with anything, the questions from the Indians fans to Acta were WAY better than those that Ferry of Lance Blanks have gotten from Cavs fans in a similar environment. It was weird.

    At the Cavs versions, fans asked things like “Is LeBron coming back?” Last night, they referenced things like Jeremy Sowers’ splits after the third inning, Sizemore’s OBP, etc…

    But in regard to Acta, I had never really heard him in a comfortable setting like that. He’s easily the most charismatic coach that we have seen here in a long time. But yes, in agreement to the first comment, it’s going to be tough for him to have a winning team at this stage…

  • stin4u

    Charlie Donovan: How would you like to manage the Indians this year?
    Lou Brown: Gee, I don’t know…
    Charlie Donovan: What do you mean, you don’t know? This is your chance to manage in the big leagues.
    Lou Brown: Let me get back to you, will ya, Charlie? I got a guy on the other line asking about some white walls.

  • Craig

    So how exactly did we get Dana White to take the paycut to manage the Indians?

  • Scott

    Ha I was thinking Kurt Engle the entire time.

  • mgbode

    the great thing with Acta too is that he probably believes the optimism he is throwing out there….

    i mean, he’s coming from the Nationals. the Tribe looks like a WS contender compared to them.

    and hey, we are in the AL Central. you never know.

  • boogeyman

    Does Mark Shapiro realize guys like Orlando Hudson and Jarrod Washburn are still available are have the Indians been reduced to shopping at Walmart for the scraps like Kearns, Duncan and Grudzielanek? Personally I’m so ambivalent when it comes to the Indians that the next closest team for the way I feel is the Browns. At least with the recent front office moves it appears the Browns have an idea finally and are moving in some sort of positive direction which isn’t how I feel about the Indians.

  • The X

    Why in the world would be spend money on Orlando Hudson, when we have two above average players in Cabrera and Valbuena? This team’s pitching isn’t going to allow it to compete for at least this year. It makes no sense to sign a pricy washed-up vet like Hudson or Washburn. Seriously, we were one game away from winning the World Series three years ago, and Indians fans act like we’re the freaking Pirates or something.

  • Karsten

    The Tigers lost Granderson and I think they traded one of their good pitchers(?).
    The Twins don’t have a killer pitching staff, and they’ve got that big new stadium to get used to.
    The Royals are the Royals.
    The White Sox… well, who knows. Let’s hope they choke just to make it interesting.
    Point being, this might not be as disgusting as you all think. Maybe it will be. Just don’t poop on the party before it starts. Sure, we won’t be winning any championships just yet, but it could be fun.

    PS: The Twins inked Thome for 1 year. Hrm.

  • boogeyman

    @the X because Hudson is better then probably both but I know he’s better then journeyman veteran Mark Grudzielanek for sure and I’m not sold on Valbuena. Washburn isn’t flashy by far but given the Indians rotation he’d probably be a #2 or worse #3 starter. As for being 1 game away from the World Series three long years ago maybe they can make up a trophy for themselves to honor that accomplishment!

  • Pingback: Analyzing the Tribe’s 40-man Roster | WaitingForNextYear()

  • Pingback: Eric Mangini Will Tolerate Players Using Twitter…For Now | WaitingForNextYear()