When legendary manager Mike Scioscia announced after 19 years with the Los Angeles Angels he wouldn’t be returning, everyone knew the team would never be the same.
The team turned to another former catcher in Brad Ausmus to take the reins. He made an absolute mess with what he had.
In Ausmus’ first season as manager, he led the team to a 90-loss season — something that Scioscia never did.
Ausmus was fired the day after the Angels season ended. Bench coach Josh Paul and pitching coach Doug White were canned a day later.
Not all blame should be placed on Ausmus though, he did what he could with an injury-ravaged team.
Nine players were diagnosed with season-ending injuries. At some point in the season, over 20 players had been placed on the injured list. This doesn’t even consider the shocking death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs on July 1.
With generational talent Mike Trout under contract until 2031, the Angels can’t afford to let yet another year of Trout go to waste. Since he made his splash in Anaheim in 2011, Trout has only seen three postseason games.
Along with its multiple on-field holes and its coaching vacancies, owner Arte Moreno must also figure out where the team itself will be playing past 2020.
At this point the options are to renovate or build a new stadium on the land Angel Stadium occupies in Anaheim, or to move the franchise out of Orange County and into downtown Long Beach.
With the team missing the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year — and with the last playoff win dating back over a decade, Moreno must become aggressive in the offseason.
It appears that he is headed this way, with the Angels reportedly being heavily interested in top managerial candidate Joe Maddon. Getting his playing and coaching career started in Anaheim, it looks as though a reunion is likely, but since he left the organization in 2005, he became one of baseball’s premier managers.
Since Moreno took over the franchise in 2003, he has prided himself in boasting the Angel’s paid attendance records, with over 3 million tickets sold for a 17th straight season — only the New York Yankees can compare.
In a heavily saturated Los Angeles sports market, if Moreno wants to even consider keeping that record going, its glaringly obvious he will have to spend money on the marquee free agents when the offseason begins next month.
In recent years, the Angels have been burned by financial investments to the wrong players, which has made Moreno appear to be less inclined to open his checkbook to improve his team.
In order to return to October baseball, he must stop being conservative.
The probable Cy Young Award winner and Houston Astros ace, Gerrit Cole is entering free agency after the playoffs conclude.
Cole, a product of Orange Lutheran High School and UCLA, will amass a number no starting pitcher has ever seen, but the talent he possesses will be well worth the hefty price.
If the Angels can convince Cole to come back to the city he grew up in, it will be a great step toward a winning culture in Anaheim however it won’t be the only step.
Now more than ever, it’s time to go all in. This team is doing a disservice to baseball fans around the world by keeping Trout’s talents out of October baseball.