Coming into last season, the Los Angeles Angels thought they had it made, they went out on signed the two best players on the market and had a relatively young up and coming team coming into shape.
Owner, Arte Moreno, went out and hired a new General Manager in Jerry DiPoto after firing Tony Reagins who famously traded for the enigma known as Vernon Wells. It was a smart hire at the time as DiPoto is a disciple of the moneyball concept and helped turn things around for the Red Sox, Rockies and Diamondbacks before earning a spot as a full-time GM. for the Angels.
Well, Moreno went on to signed Albert Pujols to a huge contract which DiPoto really wasn’t to thrill about since it was against his philosophy and then the Angels struggled to begin the season. As the Angels struggled to get anything going on offense, the first sign of trouble began showing between the relationship of DiPoto and the man who has been at the helm since 2000 and deliver the first and only World Series title in franchise history, Mike Scioscia. DiPoto needed to find a reason why the team had been struggling so much and fired one of Scioscia’s closest friends in hitting coach Mickey Hatcher much to Scioscia’s pleasure.
Well, DiPoto seemed to find the problem as the Angels went on a tear, then midseason DiPoto made another great move in acquiring Zack Greinke from the Milwaukee Brewers who pitched well for them. The Angels went on to finish with the best record in baseball since their one and a half month slump but still failed to make the playoffs.
Owner, Moreno, went into the offseason again wanting to make a splash and signed the best hitter in the market once again in Josh Hamilton, which of course was against DiPoto’s philosophy once again. But then DiPoto had the chance to do something about the bullpen which was also hamper for them the previous season and he went on to make some questionable moves: signing Ryan Madson who was coming off Tommy John surgery and hadn’t pitched in a season, traded for Tommy Hanson who the Braves gave up on and signed lefty Sean Burnett who was coming off a strong season for the Washington Nationals but for some reason the Nationals didn’t extend a contract offer to him.
Needing more starting pitching after not going after Greinke who left for the Los Angeles Dodgers, trading Ervin Santana to the Kansas City Royals and letting Dan Haren walk to the Nationals, DiPoto just seem to stand pat and go after an over the hill Joe Blanton and an inconsistent Jason Vargas in a trade with the Seattle Mariners for Kendrys Morales.
The Angels went on to begin the season once again in a deep slump with their offense to hitting once again and after losing ace Jered Weaver early to an injury, had no pitching whatsoever to help them get through their rough patch. Their bullpen then went on to implode as Ryan Madson never pitched for the Angels and was released later in the season and Sean Burnett had season ending shoulder surgery. Blanton went on to lose his job after failing to win a game for a very long stretch and Vargas missed close to two months with a blood clot under his armpit.
The failure of the Angels the past two seasons have put the manager and the general manager in the spotlight as Scioscia has been unable to make the team click for some reason after all the past success he has had and DiPoto has failed to make any impactful moves and signings to help that horrible pitching staff.
Moreno has tried to do everything he can to bring another title to Anaheim but has he leaned on the past success of Scioscia for far too long and has to trust his general manager to do the correct moves or has he taken too much power away from Scioscia and given it to the yet unproven DiPoto. One thing is for sure and that there has to be a fall guy for these failure and it can only be one.
It comes down to Scioscia or DiPoto, which Scioscia may have lost some influence in the locker room after been at the helm for such a long time but still is a great manager who has to manage a team he is not used to, bringing in sluggers instead of his first to third type of guys, and without any pitching help. DiPoto on the other hand has not been allowed much to take the team in the direction he thinks it should go but when he has had the chance to make some moves he has come up short more times than he has succeeded.
It’s time to get back to basics on go back to the formula that Scioscia installed and brought them all that success all those years.