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Palpable Uncertainty Surrounds Angels in Wake of Managerial Ouster

Palpable Uncertainty Surrounds Angels in Wake of Managerial Ouster

Manager Phil Nevin of the Los Angeles Angels looks on prior to the game against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 1, 2023. (Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Phil Nevin

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

10/4/2023

Updated: 10/4/2023

As eight Major League Baseball teams opened post-season play Oct. 3 and four others awaited their respective playoff debuts this weekend, Angels General Manager Perry Minasian found himself facing media members during an online interrogation.
The subject matter was one no professional sports executive welcomes. A day earlier, the perennially underperforming Angels announced they had declined a contract option on Manager Phil Nevin. When the team gathers for spring training in Tempe, Arizona, in February, it will do so under a fifth different manager in seven seasons.
“It’s about making the right decision,” Minasian told reporters. “We’re going to do the work like we always do with every decision we make, with no timeframe in mind.”
There is not yet a list of potential managerial candidates or necessarily established criteria for favored applicants, Minasian said, leaving open the possibility of hiring either a rookie manager or an experienced one.
Given the impending free agency of two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, who is not expected to pitch next season following elbow surgery, speculation that oft-injured former all-star outfielder Mike Trout might long for a better chance to win elsewhere despite having signed a 12-year, $426.5 million contract in 2019, and owner Arte Moreno’s on-again, off-again efforts to sell the team, the palpable uncertainty surrounding the Angels only grows.
Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani (C), poses with general manger Perry Minasian (L), and manager Phil Nevin after accepting the team's Most Valuable Player Award before a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Anaheim, Calif., on Sept. 30, 2023. (Ashley Landis/AP Photo)

Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani (C), poses with general manger Perry Minasian (L), and manager Phil Nevin after accepting the team's Most Valuable Player Award before a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Anaheim, Calif., on Sept. 30, 2023. (Ashley Landis/AP Photo)

“The question I have for the Angels, as always, is what are you doing?” Fox Major League Baseball analyst Ken Rosenthal asked on the streaming MLB show “Foul Territory.”
“What is your direction, what is your plan, and where are you going with this?” Mr. Rosenthal continued. “We never get an answer because there is no answer, and there is no plan. The Angels carousel continues to turn.”
A top-to-bottom “autopsy” of the organization could lead to further changes, Mr. Minasian suggested.
Mr. Nevin, 52, was in his first season as the club’s third-base coach when he succeeded Joe Maddon as manager on an interim basis amid a 14-game Angels losing streak in June 2022.
Granted a one-year contract, with an option, just before the conclusion of last season as Mr. Moreno waffled on attempts to sell the team, Mr. Nevin guided the Angels to a 73–89, fourth-place finish in the American League West this year. They finished 17 games behind the pace-setting Houston Astros.
The losing season was the eighth in succession for the Angels and extended their post-season drought to nine consecutive years. The Angels have made only one playoff appearance since 2009, that a short-lived, three-game sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals in 2014.
“In sports, when you have certain expectations and you don’t meet those expectations, there are changes,” Mr. Minasian said. “By no means does that mean Phil is to blame. He’s not. It’s all of us, me first and foremost. I have to do a better job. I know that.”
Mr. Nevin completed his Angels tenure with a 119-149 record.
Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno, right, talks with Angels manager Joe Maddon prior to a baseball game against the Cleveland Guardians, in Anaheim, Calif. on April 26, 2022. (Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo)

Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno, right, talks with Angels manager Joe Maddon prior to a baseball game against the Cleveland Guardians, in Anaheim, Calif. on April 26, 2022. (Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo)

“I know the Nevin thing wasn’t necessarily a surprise,” Mr. Rosenthal said. “It’s just another reflection of the Moreno ownership. Phil Nevin did a reasonable job for the Angels in that year-plus that he was the manager. Players liked him a lot. He’s not necessarily soft on players, but he has a good way with them, as a former player himself.”
Indeed, Mr. Nevin, a former minor-league manager who spent 12 seasons playing in the big leagues, had the public support of numerous Angels players, including Trout. A product of El Dorado High School in Placentia and a former Cal State Fullerton star, Mr. Nevin is the only Orange County native to ever manage the club.
The Angels were on the periphery of playoff contention in late July and went all-in at the trade deadline, parting with two of their top prospects, pitcher Ky Bush and catcher Edgar Quero, to acquire veteran pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez from the Chicago White Sox. The hope had been that a post-season push would enhance the team’s chances of re-signing Ohtani this winter, but a seven-game losing streak and 11 losses in 14 games at the outset of August effectively ended the Angels’ season.
In a startling about-face, the club later placed Giolito and Lopez, as well as pitchers Matt Moore and Dominic Leone, and outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Randal Grichuk on waivers. Only Grichuk went unclaimed by another team and stayed with the Angels, who saved some $5.9 million in salary for the remainder of the season, but at the cost of a very bad look within the industry.
It was only the continuation of a long history of player moves that have not worked out, including the big-money, free-agent signings of the likes of future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, former star Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, one-time standout outfielder Justin Upton, and others.
Mr. Minasian, whose own job security has been the subject of much conjecture with one year remaining on his contract, now is tasked with finding a new manager and trying to bring stability to a position that has featured none since Mike Scioscia stepped down after 19 seasons following the 2018 campaign.
“We’ll see how Perry Minasian handles all of this going forward, but it’s a franchise that is run by a helicopter owner and it seems to continue to spin its wheels, and its rotors,” Mr. Rosenthal said.
Nevin became the third major-league manager to be let go in four days, following Gabe Kapler of the San Francisco Giants and Buck Showalter of the New York Mets. Terry Francona of the Cleveland Guardians, meanwhile, announced his retirement at season’s end.
Mr. Showalter, who also previously managed the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, and Baltimore Orioles, reportedly interviewed with the Angels before they hired Mr. Maddon prior to the 2020 season.
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Dan Wood

Dan Wood

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Dan Wood is a community sports reporter based in Orange County, California. He has covered sports professionally for some 43 years, spending nearly three decades in the newspaper industry and 14 years in radio. He is an avid music fan, with a strong lean toward country and classic rock.

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