Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Charles In Charge

I haven't been keeping track of the managerial search here because there really haven't been too many developments. Pineilla's gone to the Cubs. (good) Dusty Baker's name has been floated. (bad) Joe Girardi is still lingering at the fringes. (meh) Tony Beasley is out. (oh well) Many Acta is set to interview with the Rangers and Giants. (alack)

I havent' been too concerned, because, for the most part, we don't really know a damn thing about most of the candidates floating around -- other than the retreads like Piniella and Baker. The manager, as frankly demonstrated, is not just about on-field strategy, but also about those personal interactions with the players and about setting the tone on the field. We're just not able to glean these sorts of things by how fast and capably a third-base coach waves his arms to send a runner. So, for the most part, I'm agnostic. I'll judge the guy when I see him intentionally walk a slew of batters (like Giradi does).

That being said, Manny Acta sounds intriguing, even though his name hasn't really been connected all that much with the Nats. Lone Star Ball excerpts an interview with him where he says all the right things about putting together an offense, and as a compadre pointed out, his philosophy seems perfect for hitting coach Mitchell Page's style.

The new manager, though, retains the right to select his own coaches, with one notable exception. The Nats have brought Randy St. Claire back for another year. The rest are free to seek jobs elsewhere, something that Davey Lopes has done, catching on with the Phillies. St. Claire, despite the crappy pitching, has proven to be a pretty good pitching coach. You don't hear any guru-like quotes from him, but his success with teaching Hector Carrasco a changeup, and the emergence of a consistently strong bullpen are notches in his favor.

His project last season was teaching Chad Cordero a changeup. It was pretty mediocre in the first half, but he must've worked on it quite a bit, as it was one of his key pitches in his improved second half. Diving down and away from left-handed batters, it's the perfect contrast to his hard slider, which comes in faster while slipping in under the hands.

Svrluga notes, at the bottom, that the Nats have hired Bill Singer to scout Asia for him. For a good indication of why this, at least on the surface, seems like a terrible idea, read that last graf.

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