Blessed with a committed (and willful) owner and a decorated and authoritative manager, the Los Angeles Angels set out this weekend to identify the person who would take Arte Moreno's money, fit it into Mike Scioscia's philosophy, and avoid the outcomes of the previous two seasons, which concluded with dark Octobers.
The Angel Stadium executive offices were alive Saturday with the sort of commotion that comes with recent change and fresh promise.
General manager Tony Reagins had resigned – the official word for it – the day before. By the end of his fourth season, according to sources, morale in the front office had waned. The club's direction felt vague, even to those charged to chart and enforce the direction. Familiar faces and voices were gone, some – including the respected former scouting director Eddie Bane – primarily because of personality clashes with Reagins.
From the unprecedented run of the prior administration, something had changed.
Part of it was the Angels' inability to reach the playoffs over consecutive seasons for the first time in a decade. And part was Reagins, a decent and loyal organization guy of whom, it seems, too much was asked too quickly.
"Arte does not make many mistakes," one insider said. "This was one of the few he made. Now he can correct it."
Reagins had risen from marketing department intern to general manager. He is a self-made baseball man who appeared, at times, to get swallowed by the pressures and enormousness of the job. He has three young children, an employer that pulled at him 24 hours a day, and then a team that underperformed.
Since taking over for Bill Stoneman in 2007, Reagins had his hits and misses, like every general manager. Most recently, the decisions not to chase Chone Figgins(notes) and John Lackey(notes) too deep into free agency proved sound. The ones to acquire Vernon Wells(notes) and Scott Kazmir(notes), on the other hand, were job killers.
There are, of course, all kinds of ways to look at Angels' management as it relates to the acquisition and development of players. Many believe Scioscia has great influence over the club's personnel decisions, perhaps the most of any field manager in the game. The same people also tend to believe Reagins was a lousy general manager. It wouldn't seem they could have it both ways, though that doesn't often soften either viewpoint.
New leadership is coming, however, and that is what brought the front office back to life Saturday. A list of possible general manager candidates is being drawn, so far without regard to overly specific or pre-determined qualifications.
Stoneman, who has served as a consultant to the team since stepping down, is part of the process, as is team president John Carpino, along with Moreno. Tory Hernandez, the manager of baseball operations, and Justin Hollander, assistant to player development and scouting, both 33 and with bright futures in the game, are part of that team and are handling much of the day-to-day operations.
It does not appear that Stoneman is considering a return as GM or that Scioscia would add GM duties to his role, practically ensuring the job will be filled from outside.
The next general manager won't necessarily have experience as such, either, which broadens the search further.
"It's wide open," said an Angels official familiar with the early process.
Presumably, Jim Hendry, Josh Byrnes, Allard Baird and Jerry Dipoto are on the list, as are sitting GMs Theo Epstein, Andrew Friedman, Billy Beane and Brian Cashman. So probably are assistant-types David Forst, Rick Hahn, Ben Cherington and Thad Levine, along with Kim Ng, the former Dodgers and Yankees assistant who works for MLB.
The Moreno-Scioscia element already has those in the industry wondering how much general managing an Angels general manager really does.
"That and the Baltimore job [under Peter Angelos]," said one American League team official. "It will be interesting to see who will take them, where you are effectively neutered."
That's just the sort of perception the Angels will be fighting over the next few weeks, except now they're in a position to change it. In those offices in Anaheim, that's being viewed as progress.