AngelsWin.com interview of GM of Los Angeles Angels - Tony Reagins
Interview conducted by @Lou - AngelsWin.com Contributor
November 17th, 2007
Prior to joining the Commissioner’s Office as Chief Baseball Development Officer on August 20th, 2020, Reagins held several key roles with the Los Angeles Angels. His unique career path began with a marketing/advertising sales and baseball operations internship with the Angels before transitioning full-time to the baseball side. He served as the team’s Director of Player Development and then became the fifth African-American General Manager in baseball history. As General Manager of the Angels, Reagins amassed a record of 363-285 (.560), averaging nearly 91 wins per season. His highlights included the Club’s consecutive American League West crowns in 2008-09 and its first 100-win season in franchise history in ’08, which resulted in Reagins being named the Rube Foster American League Executive of the Year. Reagins is a native of Indio, California and graduated from California State University, Fullerton in 1991.
Here are the transcripts of those interviews below.
Angelswin.com - First of all, congratulations. Everyone at AngelsWin.com is happy about your promotion and we're looking forward to some good things in the future.
Tony Reagins - Thank you very much.
Angelswin.com - So, Tony, what's the journey been like the last 16 years?
Tony Reagins - It's been a real good experience starting from where I began as an intern working my way up through the organization and working under some very good and talented people as far as ownership groups and general managers, farm directors and scouting directors.
From the business standpoint and marketing side i've worked with some very talented people that really gave me an opportunity to grow and gave me a chance to advance and 16 years later here I am.
Angelswin.com - Who would you say were the most influential people, perhaps from both sides - the baseball and the marketing side of the business?
Tony Reagins - From a baseball standpoint, probably Bill Bavasi and Bill Stoneman. Both of those guys were probably the most influential, taught me different things. From a business standpoint, I learned a lot from many people. John Savano, he gave me a chance and Tim Mead has been good over the years giving advice - just a number of people that took the time when they didn't have to, to give me an opportunity.
Angelswin.com - What's it like to work under Arte Moreno?
Tony Reagins - It's been great. Great relationship. He wants to know what's going on as far as the baseball side of things and the business of the Angels in general. He's been a tremendous owner.
Angelswin.com - You probably have a lot of incredible memories over the last 16 years. What would you say are the one or two that you cherish the most?
Tony Reagins - Number one was winning the World Series in 2002. That was probably the pinnacle - just going through that whole experience. Other fond memories are to be able to watch Jimmy Reese hit fungos and watch him dialogue with the players and just the relationship he had with everyone. That's a very fond memory. Being able to speak with Mr. Autry. Those guys had been in the business for a long time and Mr. Autry's passion for winning. After winning the World Series you thought about that a lot. Those are some of the fond memories
Angelswin.com - What do you think you can bring to the Angel organization? How do you see yourself like Bill Stoneman and in what ways do you think you're different?
Tony Reagins - I think we both really believe in scouting and development. I think one of my strengths that I bring to the organization is that I know our minor league system very well and have a strong belief in developing players and developing players that play for the Angels.
Angelswin.com - So what's it been like since the press conference announcing you as the new General Manager?
Tony Reagins - It's been busy. Upbeat. Getting to know the other general managers has been a fun part of the job, getting to know the personalities. I still don't know how all of them work, but getting an idea, especially in this theater because I didn't know a number of them personally. I did have some relationships with some of the guys but when you're at this level that's a little bit different, so that's been great to be a part. Getting to know and talk to these guys and picking their brains and seeing what needs they may have and what needs we might have that may be a fit.
Angelswin.com - About the job. Is there a lot of communication? Is it constant? Is it an every day thing?
Tony Reagins - Yes, you talk to clubs every day. At least I've been talking to clubs every day. You'll get calls from other general managers, so yeah, there's been discussions.
Angelswin.com - On that subject, Bill Stoneman was arguably the best GM in Angel history, yet he was often criticized in the media for not pulling the trigger. Is this something that was his decision? How much influence does Arte Moreno have in this and do you know what it's going to be like during your tenure?
Tony Reagins - Well, I think Arte allows the baseball people to run the baseball department. When you talk about not pulling the trigger on anything I think you're referencing a deal, for one, it takes two sides to make a deal. I think at the end of the day, what you look for is - does it make your team better? If it makes your team better you move forward. If it doesn't, you don't. The easiest thing to say is no. If it does not make your team better, you don't do a deal just for the sake of saying i did a deal. If it sets your organization back, it probably doesn't make sense.
Angelswin.com - With the philosophy you mentioned of developing players ...
Tony Reagins - Yeah, but just in any deal in general you want to make sure it's good for your organization. Hopefully if you make a deal it's a win-win situation where both teams benefit, but our responsibility and my responsibility is the Angels and pushing us forward. Obviously we've had success over the last few years and we want to continue to have success but we just won't do things just for the sake of doing things.
Angelswin.com - I imagine since you were the Director of Player Development, it gives you an advantage as far as maybe trading away prospects . In that light, there has been speculation and rumors that a player like Miguel Cabrera is available for prospects, namely Brandon Wood, Howie Kendrick and Nick Adenhart. Do you see any scenario where you would include all three of those players in one deal?
Tony Reagins - Like you said, that's speculation and it's really not smart to comment on speculation. I think if you operate your business guessing, you're going to put yourself in a tough situation, so i think you have to deal with factual information, rely on your scouts, rely on the resources that you have available to you - I'm talking about myself- then you make the best decision for your club. Obviously again, I think one of my strengths is that I know our system and we're looking to improve.
Angelswin.com - Can you confirm or deny ...
Tony Reagins - I can't confirm or deny.
Angelswin.com - Fair enough. Looking forward to 2008, is there a payroll limit that's been set? Is it flexible? If there's a player that's available you think is going to benefit the organization is that something that Mr. Moreno might consider maybe raising it?
Tony Reagins - At the end of the day, you look to improve your club, which is the bottom line. There's a number of scenarios that can happen that will allow us to improve our club. You want to make a decision that makes economic sense, but more importantly, baseball sense. If you tie those two things together, I think you're moving in the right direction.
Angelswin.com - Obviously not the most powerful lineup. Good lineup, scored a lot of runs, but based mostly on moving runners over, hit & runs, making contact. Is the power aspect of the lineup something you're looking to improve this year - maybe getting a little protection for Vladimir Guerrero ?
Tony Reagins - I know it's been said that power, the home run, has been missing from our lineup, but we've been able to score runs, we've been able to manufacture runs, we've been able to steal bases, we've been aggressive on the base paths, we play solid defense, we've pitched well both in the bullpen and our starting rotation. If it was today, I'm real comfortable with what we have right now. If we have a healthy Garrett Anderson, a healthy Vladimir Guerrero and a healthy Gary Matthews Jr. along with the other parts of our club, it's a pretty good club.
Angelswin.com - What areas are you looking to improve?
Tony Reagins - We'll look at anything. Obviously if we can add some offensive punch, we'll look at that, but in discussions it's not limited to one specific area. We're just looking at every opportunity we have to make our club better.
Angelswin.com - If you could label a player as untouchable or a keeper, does anyone on the roster fall into that category?
Tony Reagins - I don't think anyone is untouchable. I think there's a number of players that you would have to give some strong, strong thought to if you were deciding to move that player, but I don't think any player is untouchable.
Angelswin.com - What would you consider a successful 2008 ..
Tony Reagins - - A World Championship
Angelswin.com- ...offseason ?
Tony Reagins - Offseason? Being able to acquire or add some offense if we can. But, like I said, if today was the Opening Day of the 2008 season, and I had a healthy club intact that I have right now, I'd be fine going to war with those guys.
Angelswin.com - Since Bill Stoneman has now taken on the role of Senior Advisor, how much influence is he going to have in the organization as far as potential trades or acquiring players ?
Tony Reagins - One, I think you can probably speak to him, but I've learned a lot over the years from Bill. I trust his opinion, along with Ken Forsch, Gary Sutherland, Eddie Bane, Abe Flores, Tory Hernandez and Mike Scioscia. All of these gentleman have input. I think it's important to tap into the resources that you have, and Bill is one of those resources. He's going to be around. Probably not as much as he has in the past, but he'll be around and he has a cell phone so I know that I can call him any time I have a question. He'll be a sounding board for me and offer his opinion.
Angelswin.com - Was there ever a player you thought you were certain would be a solid major leaguer that never quite panned out for whatever reason?
Tony Reagins - I think when you see youngsters at a very young age, 17, 18, 19 years old, you see potential. Any one specific player? I probably wouldn't comment on a specific player, but just in general you see a player with tools that you think these tools will play out in the major leagues but for one reason or another it doesn't work out that way. There are some examples but I don't want to mention specific names but I thought this player could pitch in the major leagues or play in the major leagues for a long time and it didn't happen.
Angelswin.com - Was it more mental?
Tony Reagins - Yeah, I think a couple of things come into play. Development, both mentally and physically, and an injury. You know, it's not easy to get to the major leagues . If it was you'd have however many people in the world playing ...
Angelswin.com - I'd be playing in the majors
Tony Reagins - Exactly! It's really an honor and a privilege to play at this level and a lot of things have to go right. You have to be in the right place at the right time and you have to perform at a high level. It's just not easy to do.
Angelswin.com - On the other end of the spectrum, maybe you can name somebody who's actually exceeded that potential and became a huge contributor either for the Angels or that went on to play somewhere else?
Tony Reagins - I like stories of perseverance. Guys that continue to just grind it out. A name that comes to mind just off the top is Nathan Haynes, who was probably in the minor leagues for 10 years, had 8 surgeries, had chances to give it up but kept fighting and had a shot to be at the major league level this year. That's a fun story.
Angelswin.com - And not a bad hitting coach right ?
Tony Reagins - Yeah !
Angelswin.com - Ok Tony, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Tony Reagins - I grew up down in the Coachella Valley in Indio, CA . Grew up there and went to college at College of the Desert then went to Cal State Fullerton. Played baseball when I was younger. I was a good athlete, but was a pretty good football player and basketball player. Injuries probably derailed my sports career and I just thought it was important to get an education and do some things that I wanted to do and an education was part of it. After my college years, got the internship here and you kind of know the rest of the story.
Angelswin.com - Other than baseball, what's your favorite sport?
Tony Reagins - I go back and forth between football and basketball. Probably more football.
Angelswin.com - You probably don't have much time to watch, do you?
Tony Reagins - No, but I make sure to watch the Dallas Cowboys.
Angelswin.com - What do you do for fun?
Tony Reagins - Hang out with my family. That's very important. I have a young daughter that's 22 months now.
Angelswin.com - Congratulations
Tony Reagins - Thank you. She's fun . My wife and family's important to me. We have another one on the way that'll be here hopefully in February.
Angelswin.com - Again, congratulations ! Just in time for baseball season.
Tony Reagins - Yeah, thank you. I'm wondering how I'm going to navigate through that time period, but I think we'll make it work.
Angelswin.com - I guess that wraps it up. I had a great time . Thank you, Tony, we really appreciate you taking the time to do this. AngelsWin.com thanks you.
Tony Reagins - Hey, no problem. I was glad to be able to do it.
Part II - Tony Reagins First Year Revisited
Interview conducted by @Lou - AngelsWin.com Contributor
November 12th, 2008
So it has been about a year since the last time
we hooked up with the General Manager of the Los Angeles Angels, Tony Reagins opened his office for us again to answer a variety of questions ranging from his first year as GM, the Angels direction this off-season, who may contribute in '09 from within, while sharing about Obama and what it means to be just the 2nd African American General Manager in Major League Baseball. With no further ado, Angelswin.com-Lou Garcia with GM Tony Reagins talkin' Angels Baseball and more below.
Angelswin.com: Excellent first season as the General Manager of the Angels, Tony. What was your favorite memory of the year?
Tony Reagins: Well, it's tough because it had a lot of highs and lows. Probably the best memory was clinching the division. That was a fun time just to see the players release that energy after battling through Spring Training and the season so that was probably one of the highlights.
Angelswin.com: Yeah, I don't think some people realize just what a long haul it is to actually get there.
Tony Reagins: Yeah, it is, it's a very long haul and it starts right now in the off-season. This is really a 12 month operation. You don't just show up to Spring Training and roll the balls out and get it done. It's a long process.
Angelswin.com: So what is a typical day for you right now in the off-season?
Tony Reagins: I'm still talking to the other GM's, just kind of feeling out the process. We had a good chance to see one another face-to-face at the GM meetings last week, so that was good to speak face-to-face with some of the guys. You'll go through the process of making some phone calls and trying to prepare the club for next season.
Angelswin.com: What is something you learned going through your first season as General Manager that you weren't really expecting?
Tony Reagins: Just going through the process. It's a process that, having not gone through it, things happen in cycles. So understanding the cycle, understanding the different timelines and deadlines that you have to meet. All of that. I had an idea, but having to be the guy that implements that stuff was, not a challenge, but something that you just hadn't gone through.
Angelswin.com: Do you think that was the most difficult part of the job?
Tony Reagins: I think there's different challenges and different aspects. Relationships with different agents, players, the coaching staff ... there's different challenges.
Angelswin.com: How difficult is it when you're dealing with agents because they have one agenda, you have another, and they do overlap at times but at times they don't.
Tony Reagins: At the end of the day I think both parties have the best interest of the player at heart. So when you understand that, trying to understand their position, I just learned to understand the agent is going to be an advocate for the player and a fierce advocate, and I have to be an advocate for the club and this organization because at the end of the day you just try to make the best situation for both the player and the organization.
Angelswin.com: What's the most enjoyable part of the job?
Tony Reagins: Winning. I think that's one of the things that I have to continue to learn to manage as far as wins and losses . The losses become much more difficult and the wins, they're sweet, but they don't last very long. So just being able to be on more of an even keel.
Angelswin.com: Is it easier to turn the page after a win?
Tony Reagins: The page gets turned quickly whether you like it or not.
Angelswin.com: So what do you think the team's weaknesses are now and as fans, what can we expect for the off-season?
Tony Reagins: You can expect us to, and not just this year, but for years to come, to be competitive and contending. I think the commitment that not only Arte has shown, but also this coaching staff, there's been a commitment to the fans that we're going to put a quality product on the field. As far as what the team is missing, we definitely have interest in Mark and he is very good at what he does and we think he'd be a significant piece in our lineup, but if that doesn't happen we'll go look in other areas.
Angelswin.com: Would you consider him Plan A?
Tony Reagins: I consider him a plan ...
Angelswin.com: Is he a guy you would build a team around?
Tony Reagins: We're not looking to build around any one player. I think you play as a team and win as a team. I think what's important is that you put the pieces together and they flow and they operate as you expect them to operate. I think building a team around any one player ... I just think that this is overstated and I think it's a team concept.
Angelswin.com: What about the way he plays?
Tony Reagins: I think the way he plays has an influence on our lineup. He doesn't give away many at-bats. Normally you're going to get a quality at-bat out of Mark and it's a patient at-bat and sometimes that effects what's ahead of him and what's behind him.
Angelswin.com: Do you think other players have learned from him to perhaps take the walk when it's there?
Tony Reagins: I don't know, in that short span, a month and a half to two months I think he may have had some influence, but I don't know how much.
Angelswin.com: What about the organizational approach ? Seeing him take at-bats like that, do you think that'll have any influence on how it filters down to the minor leagues or even other players on the roster?
Tony Reagins: I don't know if it's one specific player that says, " Hey, you got to take walks" because we've always been an aggressive team, but we think there is a place where seeing more pitches is more important than just the walk. Seeing more pitches and driving that opposing pitcher's pitch count up is important, so seeing more pitches is probably more important than just the "walk".
Angelswin.com: If for some reason you aren't able to re-sign Mark, are there any regrets on the trade?
Tony Reagins: No. You really try not to look back. You make a deal and you make a decision and you have to live with that decision whether it works out or doesn't work out. When we're in that mode, we were trying to win a World Series and again, trying to do everything for not only this organization but for our fans. But we just came up short.
Angelswin.com: On that note, how frustrated do you think the front office and Arte Moreno is losing again not only in the 1st Round, but to the Red Sox again ?
Tony Reagins: Whoever the opposition is, I don't think whether it's the Red Sox or anybody else, when you lose in a short series in the 1st Round it's not fun. I think we're all frustrated because we felt to a man - players and coaches and I think a lot of people in the industry felt that this team was probably one of the best teams in baseball. We didn't play well in that 1st Round and when you don't play well you don't have a long stay in the postseason.
Angelswin.com: Does the A's acquiring Matt Holliday have any influence on the team's decision as to how far you'll go to re-sign Mark?
Tony Reagins: What any other organization does doesn't have any bearing on what we try to do.
Angelswin.com: What about pitching? As it stands now, it looks like you'll be looking for a 5th starter. Is it something that you think can be handled from within the organization or will you be looking outside for another starter?
Tony Reagins: You know, that's a possibility. We have youngsters that are capable of being the 5th starter. Really what we're looking for in a 5th starter is somebody who's going to give us innings and give us a competitive outing each time out and we have pitchers internally that can do that. It remains to be seen whether that materializes in that manner, but we really pride ourselves on pitching well and catching the baseball. Historically we've pitched well and we think we have four real good young pitchers along with Lackey, who's getting a little bit older now. We should be fine in the pitching area.
Angelswin.com: Any chance of looking at a front-line starter as far as a free agent?
Tony Reagins: You never say no on really any opportunity . Some opportunity may present itself that we weren't expecting but makes sense for us, and if that's the case and it materializes we'll act on it.
Angelswin.com: Is there any concern with Nick Adenhart? He struggled up here which most pitchers do when they first come up, especially at his age, but when was sent back down to Salt Lake he was walking a lot of batters. Is there any concern with his control or maybe mentally?
Tony Reagins: I think that's an important aspect. I think most players when they get to this level physically have the tools to compete and compete at a high level. But what separates them is the mental side of it. The mental preparation and being able to execute pitches, throwing the baseball where you want to and at what time you want to in the count. I think those are areas that Nick needs to continue to work on. I like his stuff, like his ability, he's healthy, he just has to put it all together. We haven't given up on him by any means.
Angelswin.com: You mentioned that there were pitchers within the organization that you think can actually step in and contribute. Who else would you consider in that position?
Tony Reagins: Obviously Dustin Moseley has done it before so he could be an option. Shane Loux is an option. Adenhart's an option. Anthony Ortega is an option. Nick Green has struggled in the off-season so he's probably a longshot. Those type of guys are probably capable of doing that role.
Angelswin.com: As far as Frankie's concerned, we really haven't heard anything as far as any kind of negotiations ..
Tony Reagins: That's a good thing.
Angelswin.com: That we're not hearing about it?
Tony Reagins: Yeah
Angelswin.com: With this organization, I guess it is!
Tony Reagins: (laughs) Right
Angelswin.com:... because usually when we hear something it's wrong anyway.
Tony Reagins: (more laughter)
Angelswin.com: Well, if he doesn't come back, do you think Mike's comfortable having Jose Arredondo close or do you think it's something where he would turn to Scot Shields and maybe give him the first crack at it since he's done it before, albeit on a limited basis and he's been here for quite a while?
Tony Reagins: We think both players are capable of getting those last 3 outs at the end of a game, but we haven't turn the page on Francisco yet, so it's just a matter of how this whole off-season plays out as to what the roles will have in the bullpen.
Angelswin.com: Another player we haven't heard much about is Juan Rivera. Is there any chance he comes back? I mean, he's one player we haven't heard anything about, not only from this organization but from the outside looking in.
Tony Reagins: Good player. Healthy he's a real good player. Yeah, there's a chance that he returns. There's a chance that he goes elsewhere. He's going to have the right in a couple of days to shop his services so we'll see how that plays out.
Angelswin.com: Speaking of that, we're reading you're waiting to give Mark Teixeira an offer until he hits the open market. Was this the strategy all along or is it something that just kind of played out that way?
Tony Reagins: We've had discussions with Mark's people and we've just understood how this was going to take place. It's not something we did not expect. The off-season’s still very young.
Angelswin.com: What about Brandon Wood? Is he somebody you're looking at playing the shortstop position or is he more suited to play 3B? Or is it something that you'll just wait and see what happens in the Spring?
Tony Reagins: Well, the good thing about Brandon is that he showed last year that he could come up and play here. I think the more repetitions he gets the better he'll become, but he can play short or third and that gives you some flexibility to do things.
Angelswin.com: So you do think he's capable of handling the shortstop position at the major-league level?
Tony Reagins: Is he capable ? Yes.
Angelswin.com: What about Sean Rodriguez? Where does he fit in?
Tony Reagins: Good player. Versatile. He can move around the diamond, he can play 2nd, he can play short, he can play 3rd, he can play the outfield. In a young player you like that versatility. Again, you saw him last year and when he got a chance to play regularly he did a good job. Defensively he was fine. He struggled a little bit on the offensive side, but he got better later on and drove the ball. So there's good opportunities for him. He's playing Winter ball and doing very well so we'll see how that goes.
Angelswin.com: Staying with the outfield, is there any concern in the organization that it hasn't produced any power-hitting outfielders in quite a while?
Tony Reagins: Power, it doesn't grow on trees. It's like the last tool that shows up and we haven't produced a high-level impact all-star for a while. But I think if you just focus on that area you get kind of shortsighted. I think we need to get good players across the board and continue to try to develop those players that can impact our club in the major leagues in a significant way. So there are some young players that we really like. Whether they have power, that remains to be seen. But there's some that have power potential.
Angelswin.com: What about Kendry Morales?
Tony Reagins: There's one right there.
Angelswin.com: Is he somebody that can maybe move to the outfield?
Tony Reagins: It's a possibility. We know that he can go out there and play either corner. Again, he's playing Winter ball as well.
Angelswin.com: Is that something he's working on?
Tony Reagins: That's something he's going to work on a little bit, yeah.
Angelswin.com: Has there been any kind of decisions made as far as players that will or will not be offered arbitration or is that something that's up in the air ?
Tony Reagins: Yeah, I think it's a case-by-case basis that hasn't taken place yet.
Angelswin.com: OK, that's about it on the baseball side of things. What about inner-city programs? Are the scouts, yourself, the organization involved much in that?
Tony Reagins: Yeah, there's a couple of programs that we're involved in. We're involved in the Buck O'Neill Scouts Association which is really geared to getting not only inner-city kids but coaches an introduction into the game of baseball and giving them a venue to come and express their opinions and dialogue about their struggles. Actually, we're having our meeting this weekend along with the clinic at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, and that's another area where we try to support and do things, but the game in the inner-cities is important so that's something we've contributed to and find value in.
Angelswin.com: Now I know you're extremely busy, but do you get an opportunity to go out and speak to kids, schools or different organizations? Being an African-American General Manager is a top position and a very well-respected position.
Tony Reagins: Yes, I do. I get a chance to get out in the community and do a lot of stuff back home in the desert. So, yeah, whenever I see an opportunity I like to get out there and talk about the Angels.
Angelswin.com: Recently Barack Obama was elected as the first African-American President, last year after being named the GM of the Angels we now have 2 African-American General Managers in Major League Baseball ... what does that mean to you?
Tony Reagins: It just shows that you can do anything and anything can happen. You just have to work hard and when the opportunity presents itself you prepare yourself for it. In very general terms, it just shows that there's opportunity out there for everyone.
Angelswin.com: Thank you for that. A couple more questions.... What is your favorite Tempe restaurant?
Tony Reagins: Favorite Tempe restaurant.....(laughs) if I tell you that you guys might show up there.
Angelswin.com: Come on, we're not that crazy!
Tony Reagins: City Hall. That's not necessarily Tempe, it's Scottsdale. Where do I go in the city of Tempe?
Angelswin.com: Don't tell me Diablo Stadium hot dogs either.
Tony Reagins: Hmmmm, I never really go eat in Tempe. I usually go to eat in Scottsdale or Chandler.
Angelswin.com: OK, last question... favorite menu item at Del Taco?
Tony Reagins: Favorite menu item? Combo burrito.
That concludes our interview with Tony Reagins. Post your comments and engage in discussions with other Angels fans regarding this interview on our website