I am lovin' the Manny Acta Kool-Aid!
Of course it is no secret that I expressed my disappointment when he was chosen to lead the Tribe. But Manny Acta has a plan and he is stickin' to it.
So let's see, Manny compiles a spring record of what, 18 and 9?
We haven't seen that since 1973 when the Tribe was, if memory serves me correctly, 18 and 6 and a flash crowd of over 76,000 showed up on the shores of Lake Erie for a Saturday home opener...I was one.
Go ahead and argue that spring games mean little. That might be the case if you are the Yankees but look at what Manny established by winning...he established winning!
This is part of the plan he is sticking to. If you remember, he vowed to make winning a team focus from the moment the camp opened right though 162 regular season games. I do remember listening to Manny explain how wins in April are just as important as wins in September.
I have been asking, suggesting, even screaming to move Grady Sizemore to the #2 spot in the line-up for almost 5 years. Another part of Manny's plan that he is sticking to is doing what is right for the team. He knows he has the ultimate team player in Grady Sizemore. Asking Grady to move to #2 is the right thing to do. For Grady to give up a few extra at bats per season to help the team is not only the right thing to do, it is the Grady thing to do. (We gotta keep this guy in Cleveland!) Shapiro wouldn't dare trade him, would he? Not unless he or GM to be Antonelli fashion themselves as the second coming of Frank "Trader" Lane. Can you imagine the upheaval?
Anyway, the big...the one move that may help define Manny Acta is to keep Michael Brantley on this team out of spring training because he earned the spot, even though the move will cost the team arbitration time for Brantley.
Why keep Brantley when no one gives the team a chance in 2010?
Because Manny believes the team has a chance in 2010.
How much of a chance?
This team is going to hit.
This team has improved their ability to run.
This team has a strong defense.
Pitching is the question. Fausto Carmona appears to have regained his 2007 command. Jake Westbrook is probably better than he performed in pre-season as he was testing everything.
Manny's plan for pitching? attack the strike zone.
Pitching coach Tim Belcher is making a difference with the starters and the relievers but he will have a big job keeping them effective.
So again, how much of a chance does this team have?
Realistically they will improve over last year but how much has yet to be determined.
Most experts are picking the Tribe for 4th in the division.
Taking a much more positive or hopeful view, this team will beat some teams and spoil some chances for some teams to reach the playoff. If they are more than mildly successful, they could find themselves competing for the A.L. Wild Card spot with Boston again, just like 2005 when nobody gave them a chance that year as well.
Whatever happens, Manny Acta plays to win and he staffs his team with the best available players.
So far, very good!
I can't wait for Monday when it counts for Manny, when it counts for everyone!
Manny could be a big hit!