View Full Version : Letter to Nats fans....

07-13-2009, 04:00 PM
With such an exciting group of young players, present and future, there's clearly no need for Josh Wilingham on your team, right?

A letter to Nationals fans
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07/13/09 11:54 AM ET

Fans of the Washington Nationals,

No one is more dissatisfied in the first half of the 2009 Washington Nationals season than we are. Like you, we had hoped that some of our younger players would have matured faster, and that the addition of some of our new veterans would have significantly improved our record from a season ago. Our hope was that a solid club leadership would emerge on and off the field, and that some intangible combinations would begin to click, resulting in many winning streaks.

We definitely do see significant pieces materializing for the future, and there have been many close, exciting games and optimistic bright spots: Strong outings by John Lannan, the home run and RBI production of Adam Dunn, the All-Star selection and 30-game hitting streak of Ryan Zimmerman and the recent addition of speedster Nyjer Morgan. Much of the season, however, has been defined by weak relief pitching, poor defense, and youthful inconsistency. We have tried to work through this period with patience and focus, but now we are faced with mounting losses which are beginning to take a toll on our entire roster. Clearly, some changes are required as we prepare for the second half of the 2009 season and, more importantly, build for a competitive future.

Today, we announced that manager Manny Acta is being replaced on an interim basis by Jim Riggleman, veteran manager, and currently the Nats bench coach. Both the Ownership and the entire Washington Nationals organization have the highest respect for Manny Acta and the role he has played in the short history of the Nationals. However, it is our belief that a fresh attitude and approach is necessary as we set out to improve our performance for the remainder of the year. We want to send a strong message to our clubhouse and our fans that the status quo is unacceptable. We believe that more is expected of everyone in the organization.

Baseball operations will be reevaluating all our players and our options for improvement over the next several months. We hope to sign our 2009 Draft choices by the August deadline. We hope these new additions will join an already exciting Nationals youth movement headed by the likes of Lannan, Jesus Flores, Alberto Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Craig Stammen on our current roster, and the likes of promising Minor League stars like Chris Marrero, Michael Burgess, Danny Espinosa, Derek Norris and Drew Storen, among many others. But, we also will be determining the viability of trades or roster upgrades that can be made without doing damage to the farm system or the developing talent we expect to blossom within the next two years.

When we bought the Washington Nationals in the middle of the 2006 season -- just under three years ago -- we committed to a patient, long-term approach, building a strong farm system and core foundation that would deliver a perennial and consistent contender; to provide a second-to-none family entertainment value at Nationals Park; and to investment and involvement in the metropolitan Washington D.C. community. Today, we remain steadfastly committed to each component of that mission. We are proud to represent the National Pastime in the Nation's Capital, and we are proud to call the Capital area home.

We know we have a way to go, but the end result will be all the richer for the early days we've spent together at Nationals Park. We are getting better. We want you to be with us as the pieces of the puzzle come together. Your support is powerful to the Nationals and baseball in Washington. Thank you for your continuing patience and your commitment to a shared dream.


Washington Nationals Baseball Club

07-13-2009, 04:05 PM
Reds East.

Tom Servo
07-13-2009, 04:11 PM
Does the losing stop now?

07-13-2009, 04:27 PM
I wonder what immature rookies and the weak relievers thought when they read it.

07-13-2009, 06:29 PM
I'd like to know what Manny Acta did poorly that Riggleman (or somebody else will do better). Acta was managing a major league team with a minor league pitching staff and mediocre defensive talent up the middle. Was it his fault they gave him no pitching and a bunch of rookies?

I'd be thrilled to have Acta on staff. I guess management won't fire itself for incompetence and can't simply replace it's crappy players (or they'd be good management to begin with) so it has to place the blame somewhere.

07-13-2009, 06:41 PM
It goes like this: You fire the manager, then the coaches, then the general manager, then sell the players, then sell the team.

07-13-2009, 09:04 PM
How many times has baseball in DC failed?

07-13-2009, 09:47 PM
How many times has baseball in DC failed?

Baseball could thrive in Washington just as well as it could in Cincinnati or Pittsburgh if a winner was placed on the field. Unlike when the Senators played, DC has grown and the surrounding area (especially Virginia) has been pretty stable.

Montreal is another story. At least there is a chance to possibly make it in DC. If the Orioles and Nats ever take off, they could become a pretty good interleague rivalry.

Tom Servo
07-13-2009, 10:32 PM
Bring back the Expos.

07-14-2009, 01:36 AM
Montreal has a pretty long and good baseball history...as far back as the 30's if I am not mistaken...but as I recall Sparky Anderson, Tommy Lasorda, Jackie Robinson and Billy Martin all played there and Anderson and Lasorda told stories of how the stadium was sold out night after night...I think if a city has the right ownership and management team in place, any city can be a good baseball town.

07-14-2009, 05:44 AM
It goes like this: You fire the manager, then the coaches, then the general manager, then sell the players, then sell the team.


I'm sure Dunn has a comfy chair in that clubhouse somewhere. Kearns too. Taking those away should be on that timeline somewhere.

07-14-2009, 07:22 AM
Contract the Reds and the Nats, move the Royals to the NL

07-14-2009, 08:06 AM
Here is Boswell's take in the Post:

A (Warning) Shot in the Dark

By Thomas Boswell
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

ST. LOUIS In '06, Ryan Zimmerman's manager was Frank Robinson. They adored each other. They just didn't know it. Neither realized that the other was gushing praise.

Zimmerman, then 21, had a season he still hasn't matched, driving in 110 runs and almost winning rookie of the year from Hanley Ramírez. The kid from Virginia Beach was in awe of Robinson, who inspired him and instructed him at times in hitting. As for Frank, he said Zimmerman might someday be better than he was. That said it all because, of course, Robby meant he'd be the whole package: toughness, leadership, a winner.

Ever since Robinson left, Zimmerman has been managed by Manny Acta -- 410 games worth, including horrid records the last two years. So when Zimmerman, who's here as the Nats' lone All-Star Game representative, learned that the calm, analytical, stat-studying, modern Acta, who was the antithesis of the crusty Robinson, had been fired late Sunday night, you could tell that Zimmerman longed for a return of the Old School.

You don't miss the hellfire, or the scorn in a manager's eye for mediocre play, or the wrath in the clubhouse after too many defeats until you drop 102 games one season, then are on track to lose 114 more the next year. Then you start to long for higher standards and shorter patience, for more bench jockeying and a few knockdown pitches, for less friendship with umpires and maybe even a bench-clearing encounter with the opposition.

"I think some people here are so used to losing they don't have that fire to win. That's the next step we need to take," Zimmerman said to the media gathered here on Monday. "As bad as it sounds, maybe something like this will wake some people up. 'Hey, this isn't about me. It's about everyone.' "

Asked about Acta's lack of on-field fire, Zimmerman said: "I don't need that kind of stuff. But I think a lot of players do. Some people have said that they would've liked him to do more of that. Sometimes you have to go out [to argue] because players want you to step up at some points I think you have to do that stuff."

The Nats have finally done something the way a normal baseball team would do it. Late on Sunday night, they fired Acta and they did it right by the book, just like a major league outfit. What a switch.

The Nats dismissed Acta with regret, but also with eyes open. They now concede he simply was not a proper match for a team whose everyday players lacked any passion for fundamentals -- on defense, in situational hitting or on the base paths -- and whose discount bin bullpen lacked the gumption to throw strikes. Or, maybe, knowing how cheap their pedigrees were, the poor relievers realized what would happen if they did.

Back in April, when a mere 7-17 start by the Nats brought "fire Manny" rumors, team President Stan Kasten said: "We want him to be the long-term solution here. But if things get stupid enough, any manager gets fired. Manny knows it. That's just the game."

Oh, things got stupid enough, and much more.

By June 2, the Nats canned Acta's pitching coach, Randy St. Claire. They might as well have fired off a shot for Manny's gun lap. At that moment, a countdown to the All-Star Game began. In effect, Acta was given six weeks to get his team straightened out. If he didn't, then the club would use the three-day midsummer hiatus to replace him.

Just one week ago, Acta still had a chance for survival after the Nats went 8-9, the Washington baseball equivalent of pennant contention. The Nats even won series from the Yankees, Blue Jays and Braves. Then came a trip worthy of a demonic painting by Hieronymus Bosch, but instead of nightmare visions of sinners being punished in hell, the Nats drew up new and grotesque ways to lose ballgames.

From Colorado to Houston, the Nats tortured their fans with bizarre doings, all of them pointing to a team that was not only luckless and demoralized, but which might be leaderless as well. Acta's stoic act, which left him inanimate for entire games, turned patience into passivity and personal virtue into managerial vice. A style that can work with a .500 team or calm a jittery contender, proved abjectly inappropriate to a team that needed the spark of occasional anger and the spur of constant clubhouse accountability.

Finally, the numbers in the league standings won the battle. In a season in which the "Natinals" have been embarrassed on every front, a fired manager has been added to their meal of crow. "How I hate this day. I hoped it would never happen. We have enormous respect for Manny. That's why this took longer. Others would have done it much sooner," Kasten said on Monday. "We were always hoping. But how many 0-7's and 1-6's can you endure? We're 26-61 -- it's hard to believe."

Why was Acta shown such respect, such rare professional courtesy, for the last six weeks? In part, it was because the Nats never wanted to fire him, never believed he was their most basic problem and always thought he'd be a fine manager for somebody someday and wanted it to be them. Also, Kasten has always been Acta's biggest booster. Presumably, he didn't want another failure on his Nats watch.

Picking General Manager John Schuerholz and Manager Bobby Cox in Atlanta was Kasten's most conspicuous contribution to the Braves' 14-year division dynasty. Now, in D.C., his first choice as manager is gone, and Bowden, whom he countenanced for three seasons despite his controversial reputation in the game, resigned amid a scandal.

Now, the moment for irony arrives. The replacement for Acta is bench coach Jim Riggleman, whose 522-652 career managing record defines him in the game -- competent, an interim solution but not the answer to any prayers.

Last season, the most embarrassing team in baseball as midseason approached was Seattle. In June, they hit bottom, swept at home by the Nats. Three days later, bench coach Riggleman became manager and the mortified Mariners got better. A little. Previously 25-47, the M's were a bit less grotesque at 36-54 (.400) under Riggleman.

The net effect? The Mariners improved just enough to avoid baseball's worst record. At their previous pace under fired John McLaren, they would have lost 106. With Riggleman, they lost only 101 -- one less than, you guessed it, the Nats with 102 defeats.

The Nat result? The No. 1 overall draft pick in '09 and a shot at Stephen Strasburg.

Will Riggleman be a similar mixed blessing to the Nats? Washington now has the dubious "lead" for the No. 1 overall pick in 2010 by eight games over Cleveland. But the collapsing Padres have an even worse run-differential than the Nats and may actually be the game's weakest team. If the Nats play .400 under a new manager -- and any animated authority figure in the dugout who could chew out an ump or get in a player's face might do the trick -- then the team would still lose 106 games. So, the Nats look safe.

Now, many will get their answer about Manny. If he really was one of the Nats' biggest problems, then the final 75 games of the season should be plenty of time to prove it. According to one source who has worked with Riggleman: "Jim will be outstanding during the three hours of a game. . . . He'll be a little more demanding than Acta and he'll probably hold players more accountable."

No, Riggleman won't be Robinson. But he may bring a bit of Robby's hard bark, mixed with respect for 30 years of baseball innovation that Frank never bought. He's a proven commodity, not an inspiration. But for now, he'll suffice.

However, even if Riggleman does better than Acta with the same material and a fresh start, the stench from this 26-61 season will still hang in the air. And rise to those higher levels of the Nationals organization where most of the culpability unquestionably lies.

07-14-2009, 08:52 AM
The OP almost sounds like a warning from management. Hold on to your seats Nats fan, we're about to sell off the few working parts we do have. Going to be a bumpy ride.

07-14-2009, 10:11 AM
Contract the Reds and the Nats, move the Royals to the NL

Ummm no... pass.

07-14-2009, 01:48 PM
"I think some people here are so used to losing they don't have that fire to win. That's the next step we need to take," Zimmerman said to the media gathered here on Monday. "As bad as it sounds, maybe something like this will wake some people up. 'Hey, this isn't about me. It's about everyone.' "

Sounds like he'd really enjoy playing for a consummate player's manager.

07-14-2009, 01:53 PM
However, it is our belief that a fresh attitude and approach is necessary as we set out to improve our performance for the remainder of the year. We want to send a strong message to our clubhouse and our fans that the status quo is unacceptable. We believe that more is expected of everyone in the organization.So, we're cleaning house---well, yes, the bench coach is now the manager, and one of the other coaches is now the bench coach, but you know what we mean---so we're really hoping that our fan base is stupid enough to accept (or too apathetic to notice) that we just made Manny Acta our scapegoat.

This was edited out of the final letter for some reason ;)

Chip R
07-14-2009, 01:55 PM
Seems very similar to a letter written back in 03.

Johnny Footstool
07-14-2009, 03:26 PM
They now concede he simply was not a proper match for a team whose everyday players lacked any passion for fundamentals -- on defense, in situational hitting or on the base paths

Love it.

Lack of talent? Nope. All losing ever in history is due to a lack of fundamentals.

07-15-2009, 01:39 PM
Farewell note from Manny Acta...

Farewell & thank you for baseball & more
By Manny Acta on July 14, 2009 12:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (18)

Hi NatsTown,

As most of you know by now, my time as Manager of the Nationals has come to an end.

For those who know me best, they know that I don't spend a lot of time dwelling or living in the past...but I wanted to write this blog to you, the fans, in recognition of the generous support you gave me and the team during my tenure with the Nationals.

As I stated from Day 1, I am (and always have been) grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the Nationals, their fans, and the DC community. I accepted this position knowing that the road would be long, rough, and full of difficult challenges. But I always believed in both the Washington Nationals and the DC community, and I was energized every day to assume responsibility for the incredible task at hand. Remember, I come from a town in the Dominican Republic where the roads to success are ALWAYS long, rough, and full of challenges; so I was excited to help bring success to you all, as well as prepared for the tough journey.

And boy, what a tremendous journey it has been! There are countless incredible experiences that I am grateful to have encountered with you all.

On the baseball field, it has obviously been a tough go. In 2007, we opened some eyes and made some progress. Then 2008 was a tremendous challenge due to the injuries and lack of stability. And 2009, well, you know the story.

Off of the field, 2007 gave me a chance to meet so many of you for the first time, at the stadium or on the streets of DC while working in the community with the Dream Foundation and other non-profits interested in making a positive impact.

I also started the ImpACTA Kids Foundation, which targeted children in both the DC area and the Dominican Republic. Your contributions have led to thousands of kids having experiences that could potentially motivate them to overcome the same long, rough, obstacle-ridden road that I personally have had to overcome and that Nats are in the process of overcoming.

Your work with my Foundation has also helped two DC community high school students prepare for college by awarding them academic scholarships to the college of their choosing. There is no exchange for the value I've received in seeing the smiles on the faces of all of the boys and girls we've been able to help out. I've always said that one of my life-long goals is to leave a positive impact on the people I meet and work with; and I hope that I have been true to that.

You may be wondering what exactly I will do next. Well, my immediate priority is to spend time with my family. And, since I am no magician, I don't specifically know what the future holds for me. What I do know, however, is that Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote, "If you can't run, walk...if you can't walk, crawl...but by all means, keep moving."

What great words! So, true to his words, I know tomorrow will bring another day, and I assure you that, whether it is running, walking, or crawling, I will certainly keep moving forward.

Thanks everybody (fans, media, colleagues, Nats employees) for all that you brought to my life.

Until we have the opportunity to cross paths again...Take care NatsTown!