September 30, 2011
After making a late run in both the AL West and wild card races but ultimately falling short, the Los Angeles Angels are making a change in their front office.
General manager Tony Reagins decided to resign on Friday after four years on the job. He had been with the Angels organization for 20 years, beginning as an intern and eventually becoming director of player development.
Was the move his decision? Considering Angels owner Arte Moreno said "we felt a change was needed" in his statement to the media, it's probably safe to say that Reagins didn't reach this conclusion on his own.
The Angels have finished 10 games behind the Texas Rangers in each of the past two seasons. That kind of performance can't be what Moreno expected from one of the top payrolls in the majors. (The Angels' $139 million payroll was the fourth-highest in baseball this year.)
Reagins is known for frequently missing out on top free agent targets during the offseason — and misfiring on others. Last winter, the Angels were considered the favorite to sign Carl Crawford(notes), only to be outbid by the Red Sox by a reported $34 million. In late 2008, they lost out on CC Sabathia(notes), despite his supposed preference to pitch for a team in his native California. The team also pursued Miguel Cabrera(notes) after the 2007 season, but hesitated to give up top prospects and saw him go to the Detroit Tigers.
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The Angels recovered to make other moves with varying levels of success. Torii Hunter(notes) was a puzzling free agent signing before the 2008 season, but turned out to be one of the team's best offensive players. A cheap signing of Bobby Abreu(notes) for 2009 also worked out, though his contract extension has been less successful.
Neither of those moves, however, will overshadow Reagins' baffling trade for Vernon Wells(notes). Though it's unclear if Reagins was being influenced by someone else, the deal with the Toronto Blue Jays saddled the Angels with $86 million left to be paid to a player clearly on the downside of his career. Wells batted .218/.248/.412 this season.
That deal looked even worse for including Mike Napoli(notes), who was eventually dealt to the division rival Rangers and became a key part of their lineup. Napoli rubbed it in with four home runs and six RBI in the season's final two games against the Angels.
The Angels' farm system also produced several major leaguers in recent seasons, with Jered Weaver(notes), Peter Bourjos(notes), Kendry Morales, Howie Kendrick(notes), Erick Aybar(notes) and Mark Trumbo(notes) among several home-grown players making meaningful contributions.
The organization also developed one of this season's top position player prospects in outfielder Mike Trout(notes). However, many of the system's top players were drafted by scouting director Eddie Bane, who Reagins fired after the 2010 season.
Reagins' tenure with the team isn't ending, as he'll become a special assistant to team chairman Dennis Kuhl. But Moreno is clearly seeking more bang for his bucks and feels someone else can give Mike Scioscia a better team to manage next season.
Who will it be?
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