Manny Acta – who has managed organizations through the early phases of rebuilding without seeing the payoff – wants to help take the Cubs to the next level.
While waiting for Joe Girardi to give the New York Yankees some answers about his future, people familiar with Acta and Cubs executives describe a potential fit, a Plan B option.
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Acta interviewed on Monday in Chicago, where team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer wanted to hear about his experiences with the Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians (372-518 overall record in nearly six seasons).
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“I spent a few pleasant hours with the Cubs front office,” Acta wrote in an e-mail Tuesday morning. “We got to know each other and exchange philosophies. It is an attractive opportunity due to the track record of the front office, the talent coming thru their system and of course the great city of Chicago.”
Acta is said to be fluent in sabermetrics and relentlessly upbeat, though that positive message had been tuned out by the time Washington fired him in July 2009. The Nationals were on a program that by 2012 had them winning 98 games and the National League East.
Acta pushed the surprising Indians in 2011, guiding them into first place through late July before a collapse left them with an 80-82 finish. The Indians were a .500 team 100 games into the 2012 season, but another fade got Acta fired that September, near the end of a 91-loss campaign.
An offseason spending spree and the addition of high-profile manager Terry Francona – Epstein’s handpicked guy with the Boston Red Sox – remade the Indians into a 92-win wild-card team.
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Acta has nearly 30,000 followers on Twitter, working as an ESPN analyst and general manager for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Republic’s winter league.
That Cubs have mined talent out of Latin America, from All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro to $30 million Cuban defector Jorge Soler to several other major-league pieces and well-regarded prospects. The front office recognizes the need for a stronger bilingual voice on the coaching staff and blamed ex-manager Dale Sveum for some of the struggles experienced by core players this season.
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“It’s tricky to develop young players at the major-league level,” Epstein said after firing Sveum last week. “There has to be tough love. But there has to be love before there’s tough love. You have to be patient with them. There has to be a clear, unified message. They can’t be getting different signals from different directions and collectively – myself included – we failed to provide that.”