ESPN has yet another new baseball analyst for the 2013 season: former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta. Acta debuted on Sunday's edition of Baseball Tonight for analysis about the World Baseball Classic. Acta's role with ESPN will be a unique one, as he'll contribute on both ESPN and ESPN Deportes, providing bilingual coverage to the sport on both TV and radio.
Acta was tabbed as a future managerial star before getting the Washington job going into the 2007 season. However, his teams in both Washington and Cleveland struggled terribly on the field, though that really wasn't his fault at all. He'll likely get back into managing when the right situation pops up (he was reportedly only offered coaching positions this winter), but Acta could end up as ESPN's next big analyst star in the mold of Jon Gruden. He's young and well-spoken and brings an incredible amount of knowledge to his analysis, and he isn't likely to get lost in the shuffle like others have (Fernando Vina, Dave Winfield, Mark Mulder, etc).
This is a pretty solid hire by ESPN, and a nice way to take a pre-emptive strike towards Fox potentially trying to strengthen their MLB team before the Fox Sports One launch in August. Acta previously worked as an analyst for Fox in the past, and you'd think they would have tried to bring him back and make him a cornerstone of their coverage on the new network. Perhaps they were scared away by his desire to return to managing. Perhaps they didn't know he was available. Perhaps ESPN just offered him more money. At any rate, Acta's hiring is a step in the right direction for ESPN, even if it only lasts for a season or two.