My position on Manny Acta's future with the Nationals has been clearly ambivalent and concretely muddy for a long time.
I think Manny's shown the ability to be an excellent motivator, which in my view is 80% or more of a manager's job. I think his in-game strategy has been a mixed bag--I don't like the bullpen management, but I do like his aversion to one-run strategies and aggressive bench usage.
I think the "temperament" issue is vastly overblown. As a big admirer of Phil Jackson, I agree that it's just totally unnecessary to throw temper-tantrums to gain players' respect.
Bottom line, I think Manny's the victim of a four years of horrendous player development and roster management under Jim Bowden. No manager could have avoided last place with the players he was given.
Still, after losing 163 games since Opening Day 2008, I just can't imagine that that Manny hadn't lost his players. And it showed. For the first time in three seasons, the team has seemed mentally checked out.
Just in the last week, even Adam Dunn, purported to be one of the veteran leaders on the team, has signed up for the Anderson Hernandez school of mental focus. He costing his team a run and maybe a win in their 1-0 defeat last week in Colorado by dogging it on a double that should have been a triple and then getting picked off. Then he trotted after a flyball that an average outfielder would have caught, allowing it to drop on the warning track and gifting Michael Bourn a triple. And then this weekend Dunn again cost his team a run by missing second base trying to score on a Josh Willingham double.
I don't mean to single out Dunn. My point is just that if even veterans with years of experience on losing teams are checking out, Manny doesn't have a chance. There's nothing left to do but install new leadership and start over.
It may not be all or even mostly Manny's fault. It's possible that he lasted longer than anyone else would have. But still, they needed to try to push the reset button. It probably won't be the last time they have to do so.
Good luck to Acta in the future. I suspect he'll be back in Nationals Park with an opposing team pretty soon and winning a lot more often.