Angels to be methodical in looking for new GM. What to know about the search
For a short period during a videoconference call that lasted nearly 45 minutes Wednesday morning, Angels manager Joe Maddon raved about how his team made progress in September before being eliminated from the postseason.
But the strides made by a group that finished 26-34 and missed the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year weren’t enough to convince Maddon’s bosses that they could maintain the status quo, and general manager Billy Eppler was fired Sunday.
“We’re in the business of winning baseball games,” said team President John Carpino, who is charge of leading the team’s fourth GM search in 13 years.
How long will it take to hire a GM?
Owner Arte Moreno and his brain trust will work their way down what Carpino said was a long list of candidates. They don’t intend to rush — even if that means spending the first few weeks of free agency, which starts after the World Series, without a lead baseball operations executive.
“Ideally, to have someone in place, just call it Thanksgiving,” Carpino said. “I don’t want to put a time limit that we have to hire someone by a certain date. Because when you do that, I think you compromise the process.”
Dave Dombrowski has the most experience (and two World Series rings), but other appealing candidates for the Angels’ general manager job include several linked to the Dodgers.
The team in the meantime will operate with the help of senior advisors Bill Stoneman, the former general manager who built the Angels’ 2002 World Series team, and Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa. Assistant general manager Jonathan Strangio, who began his career in the Angels front office in 2012, also will be involved.
What do the Angels want in a GM?
The Angels made the playoffs and won the division once in six years before Eppler’s arrival. So Eppler isn’t the only one to shoulder blame for their October irrelevance.
However, there is only so much the Angels can do to rectify problems that have been festering for the better part of a decade. They have $428.2 million tied up in contracts for perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout and elite third baseman Anthony Rendon through 2026. Moreno cannot afford to tear down the entire organization. They will avoid a complete rebuild.
“We feel tremendous responsibility to Mike,” Carpino said of Trout, who has played in only three postseason games since beginning his illustrious career in 2011. “So being able to surround Mike [with talent] to be able to perform on the game’s greatest stage, we feel it every day.”
The best way for the Angels to break through, Carpino noted, is for the team to evaluate its modus operandi.
“We’re not doing it the right way,” Carpino said. “We’re not winning games. So something is not right in our organization. We have to look at it. You have to look in the mirror to find out what’s happening here that’s causing us not to be playing this week or deep into October.”
Commitment to a shift in operations won’t necessarily mean less influence by Moreno on baseball decisions. Carpino described Moreno, with whom he has been associated for more than 35 years, as a competitive businessman in search of a positive return on his investment.
“The return on the investment that Arte looks for is wins,” Carpino said. “So for him not to have a say in his investment or knowledge on it, I don’t know. I think it’s fair that he has discussions and communication with the general manager.”
How will the Angels deliver a championship team?
It starts with the right hire. Ideally, the Angels would pick a candidate well-versed in player development and scouting. Such a person could ensure that the team’s minor league system is running smoothly while building a high-functioning major league roster.
And if that person is missing a particular trait, others could be added to the staff to shore up that weakness.
“I think we’re open to everything,” Carpino said when asked what the Angels want in a general manager. “Experience is one factor. Scouting is a factor. Player development is a factor. Roster construction is a factor. Communication is a factor. I think you take all of those attributes that GMs have and look at it and find out who the best person is.”
Collaboration between the manager and general manager is important too.
“It’s a partnership,” Maddon said. “And you have to have a really good personal relationship, a lot of real direct honesty.
The council votes 5-2 to sell the stadium and surrounding land to Angels owner Arte Moreno in a deal designed to keep the team in town through 2050.
“And you have to be a big boy about it. Sometimes you’re gonna be in agreement. Sometimes you’re going to be disagreed with. ...There’s compromise involved all the time. All these things have to be present for an organization to be great.”
Although they haven’t used the structure in the past, Carpino said the Angels would consider hiring both a president of baseball operations and a general manager if Moreno finds that more than one candidate is qualified to lead the group.
Once the GM is hired, what will the payroll be?
Moreno was on the hook for a franchise-high $184 million this season before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out more than half of the schedule. Carpino said next season’s budget has yet to be determined.
“I will add that Arte is a very opportunistic businessman as it relates to value and everything else,” Carpino said. “It’ll be interesting who’s out there and the cost of it. I see him continuing to invest in this team as long as it results in wins.”
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