I knew that Bryce Harper was interviewed for the April edition of GQ. But, honestly, I don’t even know where to buy print media. Magazines. Am I even saying that right? So I had no clue that Angels owner Arte Moreno was also interviewed for the 2012 MLB Preview Package until it was some guy’s job at GQ to send me an email with a link to the article. Listen, bud, I only enjoy being mistaken for media when you send me free stuff. That was harsh, I’m sorry. The interview is actually quite good and Moreno is pretty candid. I highly recommend reading the entire piece.
I wouldn’t be doing whatever my job is, though, if I didn’t touch on a few of Moreno’s more interesting answers…
GQ: After Boston signed Carl Crawford for $142 million in 2010, you said, “It’s crazy…. Seven years on a player is a huge risk financially.” How did you get from there to signing Albert Pujols for ten years and $254 million?
Arte Moreno: A rumor was running around that Boston outbid us [on Crawford], but we never made an offer. The night we were supposed to, our GM went up to the agent’s room and the agent said, “He’s gone.” So when you’re asking me why would I make that comment? Because I don’t think anybody—just as [when] A-Rod went to Texas—was in the vicinity of that offer.
We’d just signed an 18-plus-year [TV deal, reportedly for $1.5 billion], through ’30, we have no debt, and we have a payroll that gives us all the flexibility to make the decisions we want to make. Still, I don’t think in a perfect world we really thought Albert was going to be available. They just won a championship in St. Louis, he had been there eleven years, and you think they’re gonna make a deal.
Just, just a fine job of side-stepping that question. I have no reason to not believe him when Moreno says the Angels didn’t make an offer to Carl Crawford. And in hindsight, it looks the Halos dodged a bit of a bullet by not getting Crawford. *plugs ears, can’t hear you say Vernon Wells* But then Moreno says nobody was in the vicinity of Boston for Crawford and it sounds like nobody was in the vicinity of the Angels for Pujols. Sure, there’s the mega TV deal and no debt but 10 years? I guess I would have preferred if he just said, “It’s Albert freaking Pujols, next question.”
GQ: Is there concern about paying him $30 million when he’s 41 years old?
Arte Moreno: Someone else asked me this, and I said, “I’ll tell you something: If he’s healthy enough and he’s playing for us, then I’m gonna just say, ‘Merry Christmas to all baseball fans,’” because we get to see one of the best players of our generation coming to bat.
“If he’s healthy enough and he’s playing for us” isn’t exactly the ringing endorsement that inspires confidence. It’s also not a merry Christmas when one of the best players of our generation comes to bat and gives us coal. Did I do that metaphor right? My point is that it’s often painful for fans to watch their heroes limp into the sunset. I love Vlad Guerrero but I’d rather watch a Two And A Half Men (sorry, that’s a terrible show, people) marathon than see Vlad hopelessly hack away again this season.
GQ: As spectacular as your 2011 offseason was, your 2010 offseason was that frustrating. You traded two players, including Mike Napoli, one of baseball’s best hitters last year, for Vernon Wells, who batted .218.
Arte Moreno: Our baseball people felt that Napoli’s arm was not gonna hold up for a season and they made the decision that they wanted to move him. He was arbitration eligible and the number he was asking for and what our people felt the value was… Napoli caught less games for Texas than he caught for us the year before. I think [Rangers manager] Washington did a great job [with] him. With Vernon, we felt that if he hits his average of 25 home runs, 80 to 90-plus RBIs, bats .260 to .280, you end up with a good player for four years at $16-plus million a year, [and] you’re not having to pay [a free agent for] a longer period of time. The book’s not closed on Vernon, you know. But that was the thought process.
Hahaha, if Vernon Wells hits .260 to .280! Good one, Arte. I already covered how bad Vernon Wells is so let’s not beat a dead horse. “Dead horse” is what I call Wells’ On Base Percentage.
GQ: Was the decision to replace General Manager Tony Reagins driven at all by the Wells deal? Was it mostly a function of the team not making the playoffs twice in a row for the first time during your tenure?
Arte Moreno: Yeah. I would say a combination. I think a combination of the fact that—and I really don’t speak about it publicly so I just don’t want to make a deal—I just think what happens is over a period of time you don’t think you’re going in the direction you want to go. Obviously we didn’t make the playoffs the last two years.
Right after he says the book isn’t closed on Wells, Moreno comes as close as he publicly can to admitting that trade got Tony Reagins fired. That’s enough Reagins era closure for me. Well, that and Reagins was my waiter at California Pizza Kitchen the other night.
Moreno talks more about the Pujols signing, Yu Darvish and the semi-feud with the Dodgers. The entire interview is worth reading. Go read it so GQ doesn’t yell at me for stealing the picture at the top. Journalism!