- Manny Acta was the guy they wanted. The Astros liked everything about him. His presence and personality. How he forged relationships with players. His ability to run a game.I said from the beginning that there was no right answer in this search for a new manager. Manny Acta would have been terrific, but then so would Phil Garner, Bob Melvin, Tim Bogar, Jim Fregosi and a dozen or so others.
But the Astros settled on Manny Acta. Ed Wade and Tal Smith went through the list and the interviews and decided he should be the guy to lead the Astros through an important period in their history.
There's no use surgarcoating what happened these last 48 hours. Drayton McLane refused to offer Acta a three-year contract. He offered two, and even when the Cleveland Indians offered three, he held firm.
He operated the Astros that way when they made the playoffs six times in nine years, and he's operating them this way now. I believe in my heart of hearts that his heart is in the right place, but he has some odd thoughts about putting a team together.
He'll allow his people overspend on some has-been player, but veto spending on draft picks and managers.
Now the Astros will move on. They've got some tough spinning to do when a manager finally is hired.
It's not just that the new manager won't be their first choice. It's that the Astros lost their first choice for a relatively small amount of money.
If you don't trust your baseball people to choose your manager, you should get new baseball people.
If you think it's silly to give a manager a three-year contract but don't mind throwing $100 million of your ill-gotten gains at Carlos Lee, you probably need to have your head examined (though of course something similar might be said of half the owners in the majors).
It's not likely that failing to hire Manny Acta is debilitating, because it's not likely that Manny Acta is a great manager. I mean, it's certainly possible. It's just that there aren't many great managers -- to the questionable extent such a beast might be identified, anyway -- and so the odds of any particular manager being great are small indeed.
What's debilitating is a sense of the organization, both within and without, that the owner and his top lieutenants aren't on the same page. Whether that characterization is fair or not, often the perception becomes the reality.