Nationals could replace Acta with Valentine; pitching market thinning
No outside candidates have surfaced for Acta's job to date, but word is that interim GM
Nationals people are said to love Acta's patience, but apparently they themselves have run out of patience with this horrid club, which is nearly 10 games worse than the second-worst team in baseball.
Of course the highly questionable, already deposed ex-GM
It was an impossible assignment for Acta from the start, with a conglomeration of poor-fielding, badly behaving outfielders. Acta, 40 and in his first managerial job, was not up to the task. But the question then becomes ... who is?
Well, Valentine -- who reached the 2000 World Series with the Mets and won a championship with Chiba Lotte -- is known for turning losers into winners. He has always liked a challenge. This definitely is a challenge. The Nationals are 29 games under .500 at a time no other team is more than 10 games under .500.
Some teams have shied away from the high-energy, high-profile Valentine, as the trend in baseball is to have more powerful GMs and less powerful managers (the "Moneyball" formula). Only two big-league teams have offered Valentine jobs since he went to Japan. Oddly enough, word is that Valentine was closer to taking the Devil Rays job than the Dodgers job. That's probably because he saw the D-Rays as a challenge. Both offers included a significant pay cut from his $4 million Marines salary. He has long been known for being especially good with young players and rebuilding teams.
Fans of Valentine in Japan -- tens of thousands of them -- reportedly are putting together a long petition list for the management of the Chiba Lotte Marines in a last-ditch, low-percentage effort to keep Valentine as manager. But a return to Chiba Lotte seems unlikely, as ownership doesn't want to pay his $4 million salary in coming years. The Marines ownership has said all year that it doesn't intend to bring back Valentine after the Japanese League season ends in November.
Valentine declined comment via e-mail, while Rizzo and Nationals president
Riggleman, who grew up in the D.C. suburbs and is a product of Richard Montgomery High in Rockville, Md., is going to be named the interim manager, according to foxsports.com, which first reported that Acta was on his way out. But it's not known whether Riggleman has a chance at the full-time job.
Plans change. Sources close to the Nationals indicate that Acta originally was under the impression that he had the year to do the job -- or at least until a full-time GM was named. Rizzo is expected to get the full-time GM job at some point, as the Nationals-owning
While Acta thought he had time to prove he could do the job, ultimately he proved unable to fulfill an impossible duty.
As for the Nationals' other major ongoing issue, the idea going around that a big signing bonus for No. 1 overall pick
The bonus structure survived when Louisiana State pitcher
For all the constant worry about things getting out of control, first-round bonuses actually have stayed about the same since 2002.
Strasburg is expected to seek a $50 million bonus from Washington, a figure nearly five times Prior's record. He won't hit that figure, but if he signs, he'll surely break the record.
One small-market GM said his team was prepared to pay Strasburg $15-20 million on the off chance Strasburg fell to them. Strasburg is viewed by scouts as a special talent at a time that Washington needs one. However, a big outcry among other teams' execs could occur if Washington gives Strasburg two or even three times Prior's record of $10.5 million. Some are suggesting that the draft may never be the same.
But just because one 103-mph thrower gets crazy money from a desperate team (Washington has no choice at this point; "It's a perfect storm" for Strasburg, one executive says), that doesn't mean future phenoms will approach his figure, just as no one approached Drew's deal in a vast majority of years.
Regardless, there seems to be a movement afoot for a draft overhaul. No one should be surprised if MLB tries hard to install a slotting system at some point in the near future.
The pitching market is taking some serious hits lately.
If the Padres were already frustrated by
This, of course, is not the fault of Peavy, who received the no-trade powers in return for agreeing to take what was seen as a below-market contract for an ace. But you have to wonder how many teams will eagerly give out full no-trade clauses in the future. The Braves are the one team that has made it policy never to give them out, and GM
The rest of the trade market appears to be diminishing, as well.
And now it appears that the Indians will at least wait for the returns of
The Rockies are on a roll with 11 straight victories, but word out of Colorado is that the team will wait until after the season to make a decision on manager
Stewart has been brilliant lately both ways, increasing the need to trade Atkins at a time it can't be done, not with his $7.05 million salary. That's OK -- after the way they started, they'll take it.
The big question now is whether the Rockies, who are 3 1/2 games back in the NL wild-card race, will transition from sure sellers to probable buyers.
The Rockies were credited by many draftniks with having one of the better drafts last week, merely by taking high-ceiling left-hander
• The Red Sox now "aren't in a hurry" to trade
• Rockies closer
• The Cardinals continue to scour the market for a bat.
• Giants lefty
• A's rookie
• In explaining that he's feeling fine now,
• There are renewed worries about
• The Yankees probably did a smart thing by taking a flyer on
• Yankees reliever
• Best of luck to Diamondbacks reliever
• Condolences to Nationals outfielder
• Red Sox owner