Bill Stoneman is 71. He is the interim general manager of the Angels, asked to return to his old job eight years after he retired and one month before the trade deadline. The Angels desperately need a bat, and Stoneman says he is fully engaged.
“We’ve been on the phones a lot,” he said.
“I do texting,” he said, “but not for trades and that sort of stuff.”
In his eight years as the Angels’ general manager, Stoneman reserved his most substantial work for the off-season. He made two July trades to fortify a contender, but both for depth.
The Angels’ present need is clearly identified: a starting left fielder. They would prefer to make a trade without disrupting the major league roster or surrendering their top prospect, pitcher Sean Newcomb. The mild-mannered Stoneman sounded bolder about the likelihood of a significant trade now than he ever did in his long run as general manager.
“The expectation is we’ll be able to get something done,” he said.
The Angels have been linked to Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds, Gerardo Parra of the Milwaukee Brewers, Ben Revere of the Philadelphia Phillies, Justin Upton of the San Diego Padres, and Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier of the Dodgers, among others.
Stoneman credited assistant general managers Matt Klentak and Scott Servais, pro scouting director Hal Morris and baseball operations director Justin Hollander for easing his transition back to the full-time job.
“It really isn’t as different as I thought it would be,” Stoneman said, “because of the guys I’ve got around me. They’re pretty sharp guys.”
Statistical analysis, and the amount of sheer raw data available, has exploded since Stoneman retired. But numbers are comfortable territory for Stoneman, who was a banking executive after he retired as a player.
“Some of the younger guys are more nimble with a computer,” he said. “Back in the day, I was out in front of everything. But I can understand it. That part of it is not that tough.”
The younger guys also can take care of texting their contemporaries with other teams.
Stoneman said he is not concerned that those assistants might be so interested in becoming the Angels’ next general manager, or, at least, in staying with the Angels, that they would lobby for a trade that could help the team win this year but could hurt in the long term.
“We’re all pulling in the same direction,” he said. “That’s the furthest thing from my mind.”
That, and the notion of remaining general manager beyond the end of the season.
“Hopefully,” he said, “that means the end of October.”
San Diego blues
From a strictly baseball perspective, the Padres should be selling any and all marketable veterans to replenish a farm system gutted in last off-season’s trades for outfielders Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Upton, catcher Derek Norris and closer Craig Kimbrel.
From an ownership perspective, that would be a hard sell. A fan base beaten down by years of mismanagement — the Padres got taxpayers to pay for their ballpark but would not pay top dollar for players; the previous owner took home $200 million in television money that should have stayed with the team — finally got excited by the off-season makeover.
Dave Roberts, the Padres’ bench coach, said he had not seen the town so invigorated by the team since the 1998 World Series. Nothing would deflate that bubble more than the words “fire sale,” an expletive in San Diego, and selling from the likes of Kimbrel, Upton and pitchers James Shields, Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy and Tyson Ross could kill fan confidence in the new ownership group.
The pre-emptive spin has begun.
“Our expectations are going to be high going into the next year as well as 2017 and every year beyond,” Padres lead investor Peter Seidler told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It’s not in our DNA to have a fire sale and to tear down.”
This might be the time to try, though. The Padres play host to the All-Star game next year, which would minimize the cancellation of season tickets.
The All-Star game last visited San Diego in 1992, when Padres players Tony Gwynn, Fred McGriff and Benito Santiago were in the National League starting lineup. Good luck with that next year.
What the Padres really ought to do is stand atop Petco Park and shout that the NFL Chargers, the only other pro sports team in town, are threatening to move to Los Angeles.
This could be the rallying cry: “We might finish in last place, but we don’t want to be L.A. We still want to beat L.A.!”
Sandy Koufax won three Cy Young awards and one most valuable player award. Clayton Kershaw won his third Cy Young Award last year, and his first as most valuable player.
Koufax threw his first no-hitter at 26, and another at 27, 28 and 29.
Kershaw threw his first no-hitter at 26, and Thursday he came within nine outs of another at 27. Just saying.