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Billy Eppler: In Retrospect


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I know it's early in the season, and we aren't too far removed from a fifth straight losing season that resulted in Billy Eppler being handed his walking papers. And I'm pleased with the job Perry Minasian did in the off-season, so this isn't a knock on him.

But does anyone else feel like Eppler was made a scapegoat when he actually made some really great moves as GM? 

Let's recap:

  • He traded for Simmons, who turned out to be one of the team's top players for several years.
  • He signed Ohtani, even though the Angels weren't considered frontrunners.
  • He got the extension done with Trout.
  • He traded for Bundy.
  • He signed Rendon.
  • After the Ausmus experiment failed, he brought in Joe Maddon.
  • Draft wise, he brought in Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh, Griffin Canning, and Chris Rodriguez, and some others I'm leaving out who are likely or at least have a chance to have successful MLB careers. And this was after he inherited a Dipto-decimated farm system.

His biggest blunders were his 1-year SP deals, all of which flopped. But it seems likely that Arte gave him a limited budget with which he could pursue the big-name free agents, so he had to find lower-risk solutions.

It honestly shocked me that Eppler was given the can after last year's pandemic-tarnished season. Much of what we're exciting about going into this season are a direct result of moves Eppler made.

What say you?

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I know it's early in the season, and we aren't too far removed from a fifth straight losing season that resulted in Billy Eppler being handed his walking papers. And I'm pleased with the job Perry Min

i also remember some kid that lived near me lived across the street from dave hanson, the old dodger. And he traded his mattingly rookie (the holy grail card of the era) for a dave hansen card so he c

We will not look back fondly on the Eppler years.  

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Eppler was not a bad GM. He gave this team an actual foundation to work with, unlike that disgusting piece of fuck Dipoto.

Unfortunately he worked for Arte, who expected the team to compete despite Dipshit quitting and leaving the entire organization looking like this:

Fire This Is Fine GIF by MOODMAN

He sucked at signing pitchers but that's about it.

We've still got a couple years to see how his drafts worked out.

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Full credit to Eppler for:

- Simmons.

- Ohtani.

- Trout extension.

- Bundy.

- Drafting good athletes that are trending in the right direction.

 

I'd say Arte was the driving force behind signing Rendon and bringing in Maddon. I say that with 100% confidence for Maddon and pretty good confidence with Rendon.

 

Eppler deserves a lot of credit for the things he did right, but he also did many bad things (which other people have already mentioned), that negates some of that credit.

Ultimately, it comes back to results. He inherited an 85 win team and they were never above .500 in his tenure. Yeah he wasn't set up for success, but he had 5 years to fix things and he didn't.

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4 minutes ago, Trendon said:

I'd also add that Eppler did a horrible job at building up a front office staff. Now I am sure he was limited by Arte to a certain extent, but Minasian has been able to bring in a lot of quality front office members despite presumed limitations by Arte.

Not trying to be contrarian but how do you know this? Serious question. Do these guys have a page on FanGraphs?

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8 minutes ago, Trendon said:

I'd also add that Eppler did a horrible job at building up a front office staff. Now I am sure he was limited by Arte to a certain extent, but Minasian has been able to bring in a lot of quality front office members despite presumed limitations by Arte.

This is a key point.

So on the whole, I think Eppler was okay.  He started off in the worst spot imaginable, and he wasn't really allowed to tear things down and rebuild in a traditional way like many clubs do because Arte refused to let him do it (reportedly, although he has said as much he does not believe in tanking, etc).  Eppler did make a lot of strong moves, which have already been referenced by @Taylor above.

The key difference that I have seen with Minasian and Eppler is that Minasian has apparently built a really strong front office.  Now, was Eppler just not allowed to do this, but Minasian was?  In his interview, did Minasian stress how important it is, based on his experience, to build out a front office, spend a few extra million on personnel, and save a ton of money on certain FAs?  It's hard to say really, as we don't know what's going on behind the scenes.

Regardless, I think Minasian has done a remarkable job of plucking guys from different organizations to create a front office culture that blends different practices and visions together.  Eppler built the foundation for Minasian to be successful, but I think Minasian, in turn, will probably do a better job with the team Eppler has assembled than Eppler himself could do.  This is just my opinion, as I am very bullish on the kind of leader that I think Minasian can be.

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8 minutes ago, Taylor said:

How much predictive value should a GM have? 

Enough to not make the same mistakes over and over again. People here will keep blaming Arte or some other bullshit, but Eppler was the GM, and he made quite a few poor choices—but he didn’t cause long term damage which is why people here aren’t as critical of him.

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24 minutes ago, Trendon said:

I'd say Arte was the driving force behind signing Rendon and bringing in Maddon. I say that with 100% confidence for Maddon and pretty good confidence with Rendon.

The point is, Eppler was the one who gave them the contracts to sign. There are plenty of big-name free agents the Angels missed out on. Does Arte also get credit for those not working out?

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7 minutes ago, tdawg87 said:

Not trying to be contrarian but how do you know this? Serious question. Do these guys have a page on FanGraphs?

I mean there's no way to quantify a front office members' value to a team, but the people Minasian have brought in:

a) came from high level positions in other organizations, and...

b) have gotten praise from people around baseball, be it reporters or others.

 

A person has to be good at their job in order to get promoted, so people who are further up in an organization are presumably better at their job.

 

Just looking at where some of the guys Minasian brought in came from:

- Alex Tamin: former Braves Assistant GM and Dodgers Director, Baseball Operations.

- Gene Watson: former Royals Senior Director of Pro Scouting and Assistant to the General Manager.

- Ray Montgomery: former Brewers Vice President and Special Assistant to the General Manager.

 

There are more people I could go through, but a lot of these guys are coming from quality organizations.

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Just now, Trendon said:

I mean there's no way to quantify a front office members' value to a team, but the people Minasian have brought in:

a) came from high level positions in other organizations, and...

b) have gotten praise from people around baseball, be it reporters or others.

 

A person has to be good at their job in order to get promoted, so people who are further up in an organization are presumably better at their job.

 

Just looking at where some of the guys Minasian brought in came from:

- Alex Tamin: former Braves Assistant GM and Dodgers Director, Baseball Operations.

- Gene Watson: former Royals Senior Director of Pro Scouting and Assistant to the General Manager.

- Ray Montgomery: former Brewers Vice President and Special Assistant to the General Manager.

 

There are more people I could go through, but a lot of these guys are coming from quality organizations.

Who were the guys Eppler signed for these roles?

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3 minutes ago, Taylor said:

The point is, Eppler was the one who gave them the contracts to sign. There are plenty of big-name free agents the Angels missed out on. Does Arte also get credit for those not working out?

Whenever the Angels have signed a big free agent, it appears that Arte has been heavily involved. While Eppler may be the one who handles all the official work, Arte is the one who signs off on the move and writing of the check.

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1 minute ago, Taylor said:

Who were the guys Eppler signed for these roles?

From what I recall, Eppler's the main people Eppler brought in to work with him when he was hired were Jonathan Strangio, Steve Martone, and Eric Chavez.

For whatever it's worth, I don't believe that any of those 3 are currently employed by a major league baseball team.

When they were brought in, Martone never had experience working above Director of Pro Scouting, Strangio never had experience working above Manager, Major League Operations, and Chavez was only a couple years removed from playing and had very little front office experience.

 

Tamin, Watson, and Montgomery have all worked in high-level roles with other organizations that Strangio, Martone, and Chavez never did.

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