Ever since the Toronto Blue Jays traded manager John Farrell to the Boston Red Sox this weekend, the Cleveland Indians have had a stake in the race for his replacement. Bench coach Sandy Alomar has (as has become the norm) been rumored to be among the frontrunners for the job (just as he was a candidate for the vacancy two years ago when the Blue Jays hired Farrell), and there’s a decent chance he could be making the jump across Lake Erie before the 2013 season.
But Alomar isn’t the only candidate with connections to Cleveland. According to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, recently fired Indians manager Manny Acta is one of the frontrunners to fill the opening in Toronto. Elliott goes as far as to say Acta has 3-1 odds of landing the job, putting him on equal footing with Alomar and former Colorado skipper Jim Tracy as one of the top candidates to be the Blue Jays’ next manager.
I think I speak for all Indians fans when I say I’d be glad to see Acta get the job, if only because it would mean Alomar would stay in Cleveland. But in terms of the Blue Jays picking the right man to lead their clubhouse, I would have only one thing to say: What the heck are you thinking?
The 2012 Indians and the 2012 Blue Jays had a lot in common. Both entered the season with rosters full of young, high-upside players. Both appeared to be on their way up after a rebuilding cycle and looked like fringe contenders this year. Both have seen their clubhouses disturbed by an outspoken player’s inability to conform to our society’s normative standards of behavior. And both ended up finishing 20 games out of a playoff spot.
There’s a lot to be said for why the Indians were justified in firing Acta. He made a number of baffling decisions both in filling out his lineups and implementing in-game strategies—there was no rational basis for, say, playing Jose Lopez over Shelley Duncan or letting Vinny Rottino hit leadoff—and he seemed to give up on the team sometime in August. For what it’s worth (and it might not be much), Chris Perez has explicitly said that the team’s problems “walked out the door” when Acta was dismissed; even if that was an exaggeration, if Cleveland didn’t think there was a problem Acta would still be in an Indians uniform.
I’m all for second chances, and maybe Acta would have more success elsewhere—part of the problem was probably a strained relationship between him and the front office. But given how poorly things ended with Acta’s tenure in Cleveland, why would he want to walk into so similar a situation with another team? And, more importantly, why would another team in the Tribe’s shoes want to bring in someone who flopped the first time he was in that situation?
I’d be thrilled to have Alomar stay in Cleveland, and if recent history is a guide someone will beat him for the job anyway, whether it’s Acta, Tracy, or someone else. But if the Blue Jays decide to bring Acta on in a situation he’s already proven he can’t handle, I imagine Toronto fans won’t be too thrilled with their new manager.