Tribe tabs Acta to be new manager
Veteran becomes 40th skipper in franchise's history
NEW YORK -- The Indians hoped to select and announce their new manager after the World Series.Manny Acta sped up their timetable. Acta was the first candidate the Indians brought to Cleveland for a formal interview for their managerial vacancy last week, and he must have left a lasting impression. The Indians named Acta their 40th manager Sunday, signing him to a three-year contract through 2012, with a club option for 2013. The 40-year-old Acta, who turns 41 in January, beat out Triple-A Columbus manager Torey Lovullo, and former Mets and Rangers manager and current ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine, both of whom were also at Progressive Field for interviews last week. Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly was expected to interview for the job this week, but the Tribe moved forward with the hire more quickly than anticipated. The Astros might have played a part in the Indians' sudden urgency, as they offered Acta a two-year contract with a third-year option to be their manager. Acta spent 16 years in the Astros' Minor League system -- including six as a Minor League player and eight as a Minor League manager -- so it had been speculated that they might be his first choice. But he turned down Houston's offer to take over an Indians club looking to repair itself after two subpar seasons, including a tie for last place in the American League Central in 2009. "I am very excited to become part of the Cleveland Indians family," Acta said in a release. "I look forward to working with this talented group of young men who seem to possess a lot of energy and passion for their work. I believe we will grow together as a team with the ultimate goal of bringing a championship to Cleveland and its fans." The Indians, who dismissed Eric Wedge and his coaching staff in the last week of the '09 season, scheduled a press conference for Monday afternoon at Progressive Field to officially introduce Acta to those fans. General manager Mark Shapiro will address the decision at that time. Acta is the first manager the Indians have brought in from outside their system since John McNamara took over in 1990. "We are very excited to have Manny Acta as our Major League manager," Shapiro said in a release. "After speaking with an impressive array of candidates, we feel that Manny is a very strong and experienced leader who possesses great energy and enthusiasm, along with tremendous communication skills and a positive mindset that will command a presence in the dugout, clubhouse and with our fans." Acta knows what it's like to be part of a rebuild. He compiled a 158-252 record in two-plus seasons at the helm of the Nationals before he was dismissed in July. The Nats were 26-61 with Acta this season and 33-42 without him. "Rebuilding is tough," Acta told reporters last week. "It's grueling. You're going to suffer in wins and losses. A lot of people judge you on that. I'm thankful baseball people look at more than wins and losses when you go into a rebuilding process." Acta is statistically minded and enjoys discussing and applying sabermetrics. He also is a bilingual Dominican native, which could help him develop a good rapport and relationship with the Latin players. "This is a job where handling people and working with people is the key," Acta said last week. "This is a job where sometimes the employees are making 50,000 times more than the boss. Handling them the right way is the key." Red Sox pitching coach and former Tribe pitcher and farm director John Farrell had been the Indians' top choice going into the interview process, but Farrell made it clear he wishes to stay where he is. The Indians wanted to bring in a skipper who possesses strong communications skills, understands the market, knows how to develop young players and has an idea of what makes a strong pitching coach. The development of the Tribe's young pitchers will be pivotal as the club moves forward after a 65-97 season. It remains to be seen who Acta has in mind for his coaching spots. Lovullo could emerge as a Major League coaching candidate. Acta has been a coach or manager at the Major League level since 2002. He originally broke into the bigs as a third-base/infield coach for the Expos in 2002. He held that position for three years before moving to the same position with the Mets in 2005 and '06. He was named the Nationals' manager in the winter before the 2007 season. Acta holds dual citizenship in the Dominican Republic and the U.S. He's the only active manager in the Majors from the Dominican and just the fourth manager from there overall. He has managed four years in the Dominican and Venezuelan winter leagues, and he also managed the Dominican team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.