Herzog Joins List Trying to Get a Title for Autry : Angels: He is hired to evaluate players, scouts and the minor league system.
Lured out of semi-retirement by what he said were his competitiveness and his enduring friendship with Angel owner Gene Autry, Whitey Herzog vowed Friday to help make the Angels “the best organization in baseball” as a senior vice president and director of player personnel.
His appointment, which takes effect Sept. 16, is for three years.
Herzog was considered one of the game’s most shrewd managers and judges of talent during his decade with the St. Louis Cardinals. Herzog, who was the Angels’ first base coach in 1974 and ’75--and managed them for four games in 1974 between the dismissal of Bobby Winkles and hiring of Dick Williams--has been evaluating the Cardinals’ minor league operations since resigning as manager in July, 1990.
Herzog and Dan O’Brien, the Angels’ senior vice president for baseball operations, will report to club President Richard Brown. All three and Manager Buck Rodgers will confer on trades and evaluating free agents. O’Brien will continue to handle contract negotiations. Herzog will concentrate on evaluating players, scouts and the minor league system.
All ultimately report to Autry and Autry’s wife, Jackie, the club’s executive vice president.
“Not only do we want to build a great organization, if I could do one thing in my lifetime before I get out of baseball, I want to give Gene Autry a World Series (championship),” said Herzog, who managed the Cardinals to a Series victory in 1982 and lost to the Kansas City Royals in 1985 and to the Minnesota Twins in 1987. He also won three AL West titles as manager of the Royals. “I just want to try my darndest. If I can do that, I’d be the happiest guy on earth.”
Herzog, who resigned as manager of the Cardinals after saying he “just couldn’t get the team to play,” said that although he entertains thoughts of managing again, “I can assure you I’m not here to be manager of the Angels.”
He was interviewed for the general manager’s job with the expansion Colorado Rockies but grabbed the Angels’ offer when Brown visited him at his St. Louis home Wednesday. Herzog, who will be 60 in November, will work out of his home but will remain in contact with the Angels.
“It’s kind of a challenge to me,” Herzog said at an Anaheim Stadium news conference. “I know everybody said I was going to Denver, but those people had some things they wanted to get in place. When this opportunity came up, I couldn’t hardly pass it up.”
Herzog’s arrival completes a brisk turnover of the Angels’ front office and marks the beginning of a three-year plan. O’Brien’s contract was extended through 1994 on Aug. 26, the same day Rodgers was named manager for the same term. Brown assumed his job on Nov. 1, 1990.
Brown said the Angels had long been seeking “a Whitey Herzog-type” and were delighted to get the genuine article.
“If we fail, it won’t be because we don’t have the right people in the right jobs,” said Brown, who plans to turn his attention from personnel decisions to administrative matters. “I’m not stupid enough to veto their recommendation of a trade or a signing. . . .
“We would have liked to announce Dan, Buck and Whitey at once, but it took 10 months to get this in place. It took a lot of hard work. Now we have the hierarchy. You’re going to see results, no doubt about it. The best I can think of--and we all want a winner--is a very stable organization that is a contender every year. . . .
“He wants to bring a winner to Gene Autry. We all do, but there’s a right way and a wrong way. The wrong way is to bring out the Band-Aids and patch. The right way is to build a foundation. Everybody’s in place. Now I’m trying to get luck on my side. There may be some fiddling around, but as far as the ‘heavyweights,’ they’re in place. I’m very content with the structure as it is now.”
Autry said the addition of Herzog made him feel “more comfortable.”
He added: “What we want to do is build a good club that’s going to be there for four, five years, and I don’t think there’ll be any static between Buck and Whitey. I thought Buck would be a good man to come in here and help us build a young ballclub that will be good for a few years.”
Jackie Autry, whose involvement in personnel decisions has increased in recent years, said she feels secure enough about the new management setup to decrease her daily involvement with the club.
“I have a very positive feeling about this organization,” she said. “I’m starting to feel a comfort level I haven’t felt before.”
Asked if that comfort stemmed from her and her husband’s long acquaintance with Rodgers and Herzog, she said: “I don’t believe in the ‘good-old-boy syndrome.’ I believe in quality and competence.”
Rodgers said he expects to work well with Herzog, his National League East rival when they managed the Montreal Expos and Cardinals, respectively.
“We’re very similar in our thoughts,” Rodgers said. “Whitey’s been basically a pitching- and defense- and speed-oriented guy, and that’s basically what I like. Power is a plus. You have to be able to manufacture runs to be competitive. If somebody hits a three-run home run, that’s fine.
“I think I know him very well, from the brain right on down through some of the gut moves he made.”
Herzog acknowledged that he knew little about the Angels’ farm system but said he intends to hold an organizational meeting later this month with Rodgers, O’Brien, the club’s scouts and minor league officials to discuss the overall needs. A major overhaul is expected in the scouting and development areas.
“I do think I know quite a bit about the parent club,” he said. “I know it’s been a disappointing season. I want to get to a level where we don’t have those disappointments.
“You have to use free agency, trades and the farm system. We’ll put our heads together at the end of the season. . . . The Angels have some strong points, a good nucleus, and if you add some players in the right places, I think they’ll be a contending ballclub.”