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The Astros' offseason gets off to a pathetic start

Oct 26, 2009, 10:04 AM EDT

Manny Acta was drafted by the Houston Astros when he was 17 years old, spent six years toiling in their system, then spent nearly a decade coaching and managing in their system as well.  Mere weeks ago, he called the possibility of managing the Astros “too good to be true.”

And now we learn that the Astros lost out on him, not because the Indians were quicker on the draw, but because they weren’t as cheap:

Astros general manager Ed Wade confirmed on Sunday that the team made an offer to Manny Acta to be its next manager before he opted to fill the same position with Cleveland, and Wade said he was confident the club would be able to hire a quality manager.

According to sources close to the negotiations, Acta turned down the Astros’ offer of a two-year deal plus a one-year option to manage the team in favor of Cleveland’s three-year deal with a one-year option for 2013. Acta said Sunday he wouldn’t comment on contract negotiations, but Wade confirmed with MLB.com he and president of baseball operations Tal Smith met with Acta on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

Maybe Manny Acta isn’t the alpha and omega of managerial candidates, but given that Acta was clearly the guy the Astros wanted, why on Earth wouldn’t they match the three years Cleveland was offering? The only possible explanation that doesn’t make the Astros look bad here is that Acta didn’t give Houston a chance to match the Indians’ offer. But that flies in the face of Acta’s previous comments regarding his desire for the Astros’ job and his reputation as a standup guy.  It’s also worth noting that, at present, no one has said that Acta didn’t give them a chance, and under these circumstances, someone probably would have said so by now if it was true.

As Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle notes, why now, after giving all kinds of money to the Carlos Lees and Mike Hamptons of the world, would the Astros draw the line at paying a manager an extra year at roughly the same rate of a middle reliever?  Does it gall them that they’re still on the hook for Cecil Cooper for $800K next year?  Why wouldn’t they do what they needed to do in order to get the man they obviously wanted?

An even bigger question: What’s the biggest problem facing the Astros these days? The lack of young talent, or the lack of front office sense?

  1. Joey B - Oct 26, 2009 at 10:34 AM

    I’d be a little leery of a guy that tells you that this job is a dram come true, gets offered a better deal from someone else, and walks away from a dream come true. Kind of like when wanted to be closer to home, and took about $250k more per year to pitch for TO rather than the Rangers. As a RS fan, I have no dog in this race, but if we’re signing FAs, I really want guys that want to be here, and not guys that are forced to be here.

  2. Aarcraft - Oct 26, 2009 at 11:08 AM

    I think the answer is obvious, Craig. It’s the lack of front office sense. The latter directly led to the former, because the front office would rather give millions to Carlos Lee, Kaz Matsui, Miguel Tejada, Mike Hampton, etc. than go over-slot for any of its draft choices. And Joey B, the real dream come true, for a guy who just got fired, might be some job security. For a team that has been plagued by instability in its managers for years, I think thats the least the Astros could have given him.

  3. dcfan - Oct 26, 2009 at 11:14 AM

    There is more to this than that guys. I think what happened was the Astros did not want to shell out a third year to a manager with no proven history. His lone manager experience was with a bad team in my own Nationals, but he made them worse. Same bad players and Riggleman had a winning record for nearly 2 months, and yet we never climbed out of dead last in the entire MLB, which says a lot of Actas record. He wasn’t fiery, wasnt in the faces of the lazy players, and never once got thrown out of a game. The best managers fire up their players and get the boot plenty, like Bobby Cox, Tony Larussa, or Joe Torre. Trust me, the Astros wont be losing sleep over not signing Acta…

  4. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Oct 26, 2009 at 11:55 AM

    The best managers fire up their players and get the boot plenty, like Bobby Cox, Tony Larussa, or Joe Torre. Trust me, the Astros wont be losing sleep over not signing Acta…

    Is that the reason they are the best, or is it because they are managing some of the best players in baseball? Merely asking as a devil’s advocate. Also, as a yanks fan, this might be the first time I’ve seen “firing up their players” and Joe Torre in the same sentence.

  5. dcfan - Oct 26, 2009 at 1:36 PM

    No, because they didn’t get the best from their players even with good teams. The Mets have great players, but dont win. The Red Sox for years spent and still couldnt win until recently. The Yankees didnt stop spending in the 80s and early 90s and never won. And can you name managers for those teams at those times? And i meant Mike Schocia not Joe Torre for fiery managers. And Joe Torre tends to have fiery bench coaches and such, but ya, he isnt really fiery himself.

  6. willmose - Oct 26, 2009 at 1:49 PM

    Perhaps, it was because Manny had enough of the cheating in Houston. The only way the Astro stay ahead of the Pirates is because the close the roof at home. The vistors hit into a 35 mph wind and Astros hit with it blowing out. Any doubts? The shot Pujols hit against Lidge in the 2005 playoffs only went 351 feet. If the roof had been open the ball would have travel 500+ feet.

  7. Cru11 - Oct 26, 2009 at 2:00 PM

    I have never seen Torre fire up his players. Never. Hes a rock in the dugout.

  8. Tyree Lecrone - Jan 26, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    I know this is really boring and you are skipping to the next comment, but I just wanted to throw you a big thanks – you cleared up some things for me!

  9. vitamins - Jan 31, 2010 at 4:47 PM

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