Ken Rosenthal says trade Angels manager Mike Scioscia to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Angels fans are calling for his head. And the skipper tells Joe McDonnell that he won’t quit.
After Sunday’s 8-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles and another poor pitching performance, the Angels are 11-20 and trail the Texas Rangers by nine games, one loss away from tying their separated-at-birth brother the Toronto Blue Jays for the second worst American League record behind the lowly Houston Astros.
Let’s say the Dodgers don’t want to give up Zach Lee¬†to assume Scioscia’s contract, which runs through 2018. And let’s say that owner Arte Moreno fires Scioscia, in essence blaming the manager for two straight horrible April starts and what could be the fourth consecutive year of not playing in October.
Moreno is the one that pushed¬†General Manager Jerry DiPoto to sign Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in free agency and cripple any chance to rejuvenate a barren farm system via the draft, while at the same time tying up a huge chunk of money that resulted in a shallow, mediocre pitching rotation. So while the hope is a new voice would lead to Hamilton watching pitches out of the strike zone rather than flailing at them and Tommy Hanson to find his lost fastball, the team still has foundation cracks bigger than Mark Trumbo’s forearms.
But let’s get back to the “then what”. Because if the Angels keep losing¬†the way they keep losing – with horrible pitching, porous defense and clueless base running – then all that matters is that Scioscia’s been axed and a replacement is needed.
The only reason Tony LaRussa¬†is even a mentioned name is because of Pujols. But he’s already rejected the notion that he’d ever manage again, despite Angel fans clamoring for a big name replacement. I’m sure he’s napping at a red light, anyway.
In addition to avoiding Twitter, Ozzie Guillen is posing for bachelor parties.
Ozzie Guillen. Bachelor party complete. twitter.com/sahadevsharma/‚Ä¶
‚ÄĒ Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) May 4, 2013
So he has some free time on his hands. He’s won a championship. He’s a Latino, as is the team’s highest paid player, owner and a large amount of southern California residents, if that even matters. And he was well respected until Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria patched together a bad ball club during hot stove season and Guillen said he “loved” a dictator. ¬†But Orange County doesn’t like people rocking its boat. And while he’d be entertaining for me, I don’t see this region putting up with his¬†shtick¬†for anything less than a second championship.
Fresh off the heels of St. Louis Cardinals Mike Matheny and Chicago White Sox Robin Ventura – recently retired players with zero managing experience and succeeding in the big leagues – former Angel Darin Erstad is a legitimate candidate to replace Scioscia. Right now he manages the 21-24 Nebraska Cornhuskers. He’s still a fan favorite. Gritty, hard-nosed and red-ass describe Erstad, the clubhouse leader who caught the final out when the Angels won the World Series in 2002. Hire him if you want microwave instant change in that locker room. And if you want respect.
Joe Maddon¬†is my top choice, but that never happens. He loves it in Tampa Bay and works for one of the best baseball executives in Andrew Friedman. Other former Angels turned managers¬†Bud Black and¬†Ron Roenicke are firmly planted in their respective roles with San Diego and Milwaukee, respectively. So let’s cross them off the list.
The Angels bench coach is¬†Rob Picciolo. I’m a fan and a season ticket holder and I still know nothing about the dude. Except that as much as I want to call him “pick-a-low” the correct pronunciation is PEACH-uh-lo, according to J.K. Kelly’s The Baseball Name Pronunciation Project. That alone irritates me. Scioscia will not be let go just to have Peach succeed him. Keep moving, nothing to see here, people.
Scioscia’s fired. Then what? Sandy Alomar, Jr? Tim Wallach? The ghost of Gene Autry? Scioscia’s replacement still has to trot out Hanson’s 87 mph “heater”, Joe Blanton (0-5, 5.97 ERA) and a bullpen which allows every other inherited runner to score – the highest rate in the AL.
Even once the offense starts scoring more than the league average, which it will, and a presumably healthy Jered Weaver returns to provide much-needed quality starts, it’s not enough to rack up another 84 wins before September 30 to win the division.
Sack Scioscia. Maybe he’s the reason players come here and play worse (i.e. Pujols, Hamilton, Vernon Wells) and others leave and get better (Mike Napoli, Wells, every single relief pitcher ever). But maybe he’s not.
Without an obvious upgrade, or at the very least replacement level quality manager, Scioscia needs to stay. Fire pitching coach Mike Butcher. Replace him with anyone. Relieve hitting coach Jim Eppard of his duties, write an apology letter to Mickey Hatcher and bring in Tim Salmon.
The Angels need change. But it’s not time for Scioscia to sleep with the fishes just yet.