Before Arte Moreno resolves the cold war between Jerry Dipoto and
Trout could be the first player to wear an Angels cap in Cooperstown, if he sticks around. He could have won the most valuable player award in each of his first two seasons, if not for the Angels' futility.
By the time the Angels replenish enough pitching to reclaim their status as a perennial contender — and this is a best-case scenario — Trout will be on the verge of free agency. It is something of a baseball parlor game to guess at how many zeros will be in his next contract, but there is no earthly reason for Trout to sign a long-term deal with the Angels now, to commit his prime years to a team desperately in need of a consensus plan instead of a tug of war.
So Moreno ought to share his plan with Trout, and get his franchise player to buy into it. Then Moreno ought to determine the management team he trusts to implement it, and let those folks do it.
Moreno has not spoken with local media all season — he declined an interview request for this column as well — but someone who has talked with him says he is frustrated at the criticism coming his way. After all, every fan covets an owner who fiercely desires to win and spends the money to do so.
On both counts, Moreno scores.
When Moreno bought the Angels in 2003, he wisely retained the baseball management team that had just led the team to its only
In retrospect, both moves were flawed. Reagins failed to communicate effectively with agents and rival general managers and chased away Eddie Bane, the scouting director who delivered Trout,
In 2011, Moreno fired Reagins and cleaned out the front office, then hired Dipoto and let him bring in his own people. The mandate: Dipoto would rebuild the Angels' farm system and restore their financial flexibility.
Then Moreno spent $240 million on
In each of Dipoto's two years as general manager, the Angels have forfeited their first-round draft pick — first for signing Pujols, then for
Baseball America ranked the Angels' minor league system the worst in the game last winter. John Manuel, editor in chief of Baseball America, said the Angels' system might well be ranked worst again this winter.
"They need help everywhere," Manuel said. "It's like one of those big ships going in the wrong direction. It's hard to turn those things around. The Astros, in the same division, have been much worse at the big-league level, but they're turning around faster."
Dipoto and his staff have revamped the organizational philosophy, personnel, facilities, and data systems in the minor league and scouting departments. The payoff in players takes years — and first-round draft picks, especially now that
The challenge is stiff enough on its own, all the more so with a general manager squeezed between a manager with a 10-year contract and a pipeline to the owner that signed it. Then again, the Angels have gotten significantly worse in the two years since Scioscia was asked to step aside as unofficial director of player personnel.
When The Times and other media outlets reported on the tension between Dipoto and Scioscia around this time last year, Moreno popped up within 24 hours to say both men would return. Similar stories have appeared on national websites within the last couple weeks, but Moreno has said nothing.
The last time the Angels got rid of everyone, after the 1999 season, they plugged in three young pitchers to their starting rotation. The Angels do not now have three young pitchers who could compete at the major-league level.
Moreno could get rid of everyone and take a run at the
Maddon has told friends he has no interest in managing anywhere Friedman is not the general manager. Still, if Moreno wants to give Dipoto a shot with his own manager, maybe Scioscia goes.
Ultimately, because Moreno is not believed to have any interest in rebuilding, the question for the owner is this: Who does he trust to put together a decent pitching staff on a limited budget, because the Angels' chance at contention next year depends on it?
Dipoto tried this year, but his pitching evaluations included more misses —
However, from conversations with people inside and outside the organization, the sense is that Dipoto is more likely to go, which would put Moreno in the same awkward position as he was two years ago — hiring a general manager who would not get to bring in his own manager.
In that case, the best solution might be
Black knows pitching on a budget. And Black would be comfortable saying no to Moreno and to Scioscia; Black said no when the
But it all comes back to Trout, a once-in-a-franchise player. Get the house in order, so that one of the few Angels who does not mind taking a walk does not have to take a walk.