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OC Register: Angels president: ‘Something is not right in our organization’

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As the Angels begin their search for a new general manager, John Carpino said they are open-minded to anything.

Five straight losing seasons has taught them that much.

“Obviously, we’re not doing it the right way,” the Angels president said Wednesday morning. “We’re not winning games, so something is not right in our organization. So we have to look at it. You have to look in the mirror and find out, ‘OK, what’s happening here that’s causing us not to be playing this week or deep into October?’

“I don’t think you should be egotistical enough to think that everything’s fine and we’re just gonna have a general manager that comes in here and we’re going to keep all the systems the same. Because there are things in here that aren’t working. It’s obvious, because we’re not getting the end result each of us want.”

Carpino and Joe Maddon spoke to the media via teleconference for about 40 minutes, with Maddon reflecting on a disappointing 2020 season and Carpino mostly handling questions about where the organization goes after firing general manager Billy Eppler.

Carpino said they are not going to “rush” to find a new general manager, and they have people in house who can handle the baseball operations during the search. Carpino said they’d like to hire someone “ideally,” by Thanksgiving, but they would make the hire as soon as they find the right person.

He also said they have no current preference in terms of experience, or a background that is more skewed toward scouting or analytics. If they pick someone who is weaker in one area, they would supplement with the support staff.

Carpino said the process is in its infancy. They have just begun compiling a long list of candidates.

Industry speculation has focused on Dave Dombrowski, who most recently led the Boston Red Sox to a World Series title. Dombrowski has a relationship with Tony La Russa, who works as an advisor for the Angels. He also has a reputation for being able to build winners, although perhaps at the cost of long-term success.

Owner Arte Moreno could opt for Dombrowski if he truly is looking for the quickest fix possible.

The lack of success was ultimately what led to Eppler’s dismissal, Carpino said.

“It was a difficult decision organizationally,” Carpino said. “At the end of the day, it was a business decision. And we’re in the business of winning baseball games, and we just didn’t win enough over the five-year period.”

Although the Angels had come into this shortened season on the heels of four straight losing records under Eppler, the Angels nonetheless quietly gave Eppler a one-year extension in July. Carpino said Moreno felt that Eppler deserved the security, and it was Eppler’s not decision not make the extension public.

The club that Eppler built did not perform up to expectations, though. While few in the industry felt the Angels were a championship caliber team, they certainly should have qualified for the postseason with a 16-team field with a roster that included two of the best players in the sport, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon.

Trout has been notably absent from the playoffs in eight of his nine full seasons with the Angels, which has become a source of frustration for everyone around the organization and even baseball fans in general.

Carpino said they feel the pressure.

“We feel tremendous responsibility to Mike,” Carpino said. “We believe he’s one of the greatest players… Being able to surround Mike, to be able to perform on the game’s greatest stage… Yeah, we feel it every day.”

While having Trout on the roster certainly would be a bonus for any candidate for the Angels GM job, there is also an industry perception that the position is more difficult than with other clubs because of Moreno.

Moreno admitted in February that he nixed the Angels trade with the Dodgers for Ross Stripling and Joc Pederson. Moreno was behind the firing of manager Brad Ausmus, who had been hired just a year earlier by Eppler. Moreno had also pushed for free-agent signings of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.

When asked if there should be more of a “firewall” between ownership and the baseball operations department, Carpino said he believes Moreno’s involvement has been appropriate.

He said the Angels payroll has been over $170 million for four or five years, and with that type of investment any owner should have some influence over how the money is spent.

“He loves this team, and he wants to deliver a championship here, that’s really the goal here,” Carpino said. “And he likes being part of the process. And in my opinion, he deserves to be part of the process. He’s the owner.”

Moreno’s investment in the team for 2021 hasn’t been determined. The pandemic has resulted in lost revenue throughout the sport, and Carpino said they have’t discussed what the payroll would be next season. He also said the Angels were going to be forced to have some layoffs, because of the economic climate.

The pandemic will also slightly alter the GM hiring process. The initial round of interviews may be conducted via Zoom, but eventually they will need to bring candidates in for face-to-face meetings, “six feet apart,” Carpino said.

“It’s going to be a vast search,” Carpino said. “I just put a long list together and we’re going to turn over every rock and listen to people and let them contribute.”

Carpino also said he doesn’t feel the job will require someone to overhaul everything in the organization. Maddon said the way the team finished, with a strong September, indicates many of the elements are in place.

“We’re not that far away,” Carpino said. “A couple of right decisions being made and we’re playing this week instead of being here in front of you, which doesn’t make any of us happy.”

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There is a lot to unpack in here, and it is not at all inspiring. I get the feeling that not enough of the real decision makers in the organization have real knowledge of building a winning baseball organization.


Edit: Also great article @Jeff Fletcher one of the more insightful articles on the inside of the organization.

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It looks like they are open to the idea of a couple people being hired maybe a president of baseball operations and a gm. Looks like they are doing a lot of soul searching. Hopefully we get the right guy/gal this next go around. I am looking forward to the future of Angels baseball. 

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There are clearly too many people rowing left while others are rowing right. Everyone needs to get on the same page.

You can't let a GM bring in his own manager only to have the owner fire him and bring in his own guy a year later. You cant give your GM a budget them tell him to spend 25% of it on a couple of players you want. You can't ask your GM to win now and also win every year. You can't value a players marketability while also saying winning is a priority. You can't expect your GM to win while also telling him he has to maintain payroll, in fact the entire left field situation going back to Torii Hunter's contract coming up is indicative of this organizations problems.

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50 minutes ago, Spin Rate said:

At what point do we blame the person at the top?

Are you suggesting Caroino should call out the owner?

Arte owns the team.  He is only accountable to himself.  The only influence the fans have is their pocketbooks.  Dont buy tickets (which there were none this year), do not watch the games on tv and dont buy angel gear.

Go send Arte a message 

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1 hour ago, AngelsLakersFan said:

There is a lot to unpack in here, and it is not at all inspiring. I get the feeling that not enough of the real decision makers in the organization have real knowledge of building a winning baseball organization.


Edit: Also great article @Jeff Fletcher one of the more insightful articles on the inside of the organization.

Thanks, but I pretty much just reported what Carpino said.

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Good that it's a thorough, patient search. A quick knee jerk reaction for Dombrowski isn't due diligence. He may still get the job, but let it be competitive

Arte may have been right about one thing this year. Stripling/Pederson have been mediocre. Rengifo still has promise, and a draft pick saved is a plus.

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I only hope that this doesn't lead to kneejerkism. Yes, something is rotten in Denmark, but not everything. The team has a good core, including two of the best players in the game, and some solid prospects. It also had a much better second half, which--at least in my mind--didn't feel flukey. 

I'm not being an Eppler apologist, as I think his main flaw was a substantial one: an inability to rebuild an injury-ridden rotation, and make quality pitching acquisitons. Among starters, only Bundy turned out well. Teheran, Cahill, Nolasco, Harvey, Peters, Lincecum, Chavez, and Chacin were all varying shades of mediocre to terrible.

But it isn't all his fault. The Angels had some of the worst luck I've seen with pitcher injury and even death. Arte continued to meddle. And perhaps most importantly, not enough investment has been made on infrastructure: scouting, player development, and analytics - or so it seems.

It also isn't entirely on Arte. While he's had tinges of Steinbrennerism, it hasn't been quite as bad. He's opened the pocket books, and been relatively patient.

The problem is multi-faceted and systemic, but I think the Angels should be careful about overreacting. 

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