COMMENTARY | After their worst season in a decade, the Los Angeles Angels seemed almost certain to fire GM Jerry Dipoto or manager Mike Scioiscia, or even both.
However, it now appears that both will stay with the team for 2014.
And when taking a look at all the facts, this was definitely the right thing to do.
The team started this season with definite playoff aspirations. And why not? Even with last year's awful start, they came within one game of postseason play.
It would be easy to just write this season off as a fluke -- strewn with injuries, under-performance and bad luck. But this is America and doling out solutions to other people's problems with as little knowledge as possible is one of the things that we do best.
Despite all of their injuries, the Angels wound up having one of the best offenses in the league -- led by baseball's best all-around player Mike Trout. Nobody thought the pitching staff was going to be good, but the hope was that the newly acquired Josh Hamilton would make up for some of that. The result was the pitching staff competing with Hamilton for stinkiest performance.
A lot of what went wrong with the team seems to be easily attributable to the front office -- free-agent busts and wasted trades. That's Jerry Dipoto's jurisdiction. However, that gets cloudy because the person making the worst decisions there is owner Arte Moreno. He's known to have been behind the Hamilton and Albert Pujols signings -- as well as the horrifying Vernon Wells trade.
At one time, Mike Scioscia was regarded as one of the top few managers in baseball -- so much so that he was signed to a 10-year, $50 million contract. (Sheesh! Arte does love spending big money.) And while it's unlikely that Scioscia suddenly got bad at managing, his bullpen use has been questionable and I can't for the life of me figure out why he keeps batting the .300 OBP Erick Aybar at the top of the lineup.
Scioscia has always been an unorthodox game manager, but it's hard to judge his work this year because of the sheer volume of inferior talent he's had to deal with -- especially with the pitching staff.
It's really about the talent on the field. Just look at poor managers like Don Mattingly and Mike Matheny -- they're going to the NLCS. "Are you ready for some BUNTS?" Even the Texas Rangers' Ron Washington was able to haplessly lead a team to the World Series -- twice.
There were signs later in the season that Arte might be letting Jerry Dipoto actually do his job and the Angels traded away a couple of decent players to playoff contenders for some prospects. I wrote about how this was a very good sign going forward.
Arte can't really fire Dipoto for being a bad GM if he hasn't actually let Dipoto be the GM. And as much as he loves to make it rain when it comes to paying players, it's unlikely he'd want to eat the $25 million left on Scioscia's contract.
Keeping Dipoto and Scioscia on board for at least one more season is a win-win situation -- actually a win-win-win.
Win: Jerry Dipoto
The GM gets a full offseason and the 2014 season to prove he can do what he claimed when he was hired. Presumably, Arte has learned his lesson about wasting money on the "top free agent" and now Jerry can focus on getting real assets that the team need and not gutting the team's farm system in the process.
Win: Mike Scioscia
So many things went wrong this season with the team that it wouldn't be fair to blame Scioscia for much of it. His bullpen management was odd, but that bullpen was a complete mess -- loaded with "relievers" who brought no such relief. It's hard to ride a bike with no wheels. Let's see what Scioscia does with a healthy Albert Pujols and a reworked pitching staff.
Win: Arte Moreno
The tide has turned against the owner who brought the Angels their only championship. Under Arte's watch, the fans have become used to winning. Memories fade over time and it's difficult for fans in Orange County to see what's happening to their team while the rival Los Angeles Dodgers make a deep playoff run.
As bad as it's been, at least Arte isn't as terrible as the Miami Marlins' Jeffrey Loria -- Frank McCourt's replacement as owner you'd most like to see jettisoned into space.
Sports owners who get in the way usually think they're helping, but it's time for Arte to turn the baseball functions over to the baseball men. It's not too late for this team to get right back to being significant again.
Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a baseball writer. He is the lead humor columnist at Through The Fence Baseball. You can visit him on Twitter @JedRigney.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jerry Dipoto
- Mike Scioscia
- Los Angeles Angels
- Arte Moreno