Very longtime manager Mike Scioscia called “poppycock” one report that he is expected to step aside after the year, then upped the verbiage to “insanity” to describe a follow-up report that he intended from the start of the year for this to be his last year.
Those reports from Ken Rosenthal and Bob Nightengale aside — and we don’t think either is poppycock or insanity — the handwriting on the wall appears to be clear: the Angels will have a new manager next year, one way or another.
The one wild card which could deter that conclusion could be owner Arte Moreno, who has a very close relationship with Scioscia and is the one who gave him the unprecedented $50-million, 10-year contract that expires after the year. It’s quite likely Scioscia understands time’s probably up regardless.
It’s been a great run. But a manager’s message — any manager’s message — seems to have a shelf life that hardly ever exceeds a decade, and Scioscia has been in Anaheim 18 years. The name of the city in the team name has changed more than the manager in his tenure, twice over in fact.
By all rights, time would seem to be up.
After making the playoffs in six of eight years during the Chone Figgins era (if you will), the Angels will have made the playoffs only once in the last nine years despite having baseball’s best player, Mike Trout, for the majority of that time. And while much of the trouble is linked to an uneven farm system that’s produced the best player but not enough good ones, and also hellacious luck when it comes to injuries, a manager rarely goes unscathed.
There was a time not long ago when Scioscia had to be considered one of the best in the business. He managed the Angels to their only World Series championship, and made his mark as the architect of a running team that made things happen and won lots of games. Bill Placshke in the Los Angeles Times wrote a nice story from Scioscia's former players' perspective regarding the mark he made.
Scioscia's lifetime record is very impressive, especially when one considered what a star-crossed organization this was before he got there, from heartbreaking postseason defeats in 1979, ’82 and ’86 to all sorts of tragedy it didn’t deserve (Lyman Bostock, Nick Adenhart, Mike Miley and many others).
Scioscia was once on the cutting edge. Now he seems like part of a different era. The day of the $6-million manager is going and just about gone. Inexperience is in.
And like others before him, Scioscia will be out soon.
The Angels aren’t saying anything beyond Scioscia’s first two attempts at shooting down what seems obvious. GM Billy Eppler declined comment by text, as you’d expect.
And yet, it all seems so apparent. Even if Eric Chavez — a favorite of the front office and the perfect prototype for the new-age manager; an affable former player who can relate to young players, the media and the executives — wasn't given the reins of the team’s Triple-A affiliate at Salt Lake City (which he was), it would seem obvious (not that Chavez is a shoo-in; others will be considered, as well).
It’s been a great run by Scioscia in California, Anaheim, Los Angeles or whatever you want to call the team that resides in Orange County. But it’s almost surely nearly over now.