Angels Make Changes, But Do They Mean Anything?


Los Angeles Angels fans may have woken up today wondering if the news that both Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia would be retained in 2014 was a bad dream or not.

"Both Scioscia and Dipoto confirm they will both return in 2014. #Angels Moreno told them a few days ago.— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) October 9, 2013"

Nope. It’s true!

In the same announcement that both Scioscia and Dipoto were staying came the news that bench coach Rob Picciolo and hitting coach Jim Eppard were being fired. It was also revealed that third-base coach Dino Ebel would become the new bench coach.

This all comes under the supposed confirmation that Dipoto and Scioscia have moved beyond any riff the two had with each other. Here’s Dipoto at yesterday’s conference:

“The season created enough adversity for us. We’ve been able to sit down and come to an understanding of how we can get through that adversity together.”

If this feels like a non-decision-decision, that’s because it kind of is. Instead of placing the blame on either the general manager or the Mike Scioscia, Arte Moreno is conceding that the dismal 2013 was perhaps not fully the fault of either of these two. He might be right. However, the firing of seemingly less important figures like Jim Eppard and Rob Picciolo in hopes of “injecting some different personalities” seems like a lackluster attempt at appeasing a disappointed fan-base who by and large wanted big changes after the Angels missed the playoffs again for the fourth consecutive season.

What can the Angels fan base expect from here on out?

Now the Angels have two job openings at hitting coach and third-base coach. And there’s also the off-season where the Angels will try and come up with a way to solidify their bullpen (again) and round out the rotation.

But beyond the players, it can mostly be assumed that the Angels will have changed very little by the time the 2014 season comes around. How much does Ebel sitting on the bench opposed to standing in the third-base coaches box really add to what the team does on the field and in the win-loss column? Likely very little.

That same sentiment goes for whoever replaces Eppard. After all, they are unlikely to get the Angels offense to do any better than they did in 2013. The Angels ranked 5th in the MLB in OPS despite Pujols being injured for almost half the season and a terrible year from Josh Hamilton.  If you want to assign blame, then you need to assign credit when its due as well. And if you think a hitting coach matters then Eppard worked a miracle this year.

And what about those who keep their jobs, like Mike Butcher? The bullpen has been repeatedly terrible for the past two years.  How does Butcher get to stay but Eppard, who headed up the hitting part of a decent offense this year, get the axe?

None of it really makes sense. It all sounds like Moreno told Dipoto and Scioscia to work it out and exited out the back door. Dipoto wanted changes then went to the bargaining table with Scioscia.

Jerry: “You get to keep Butch but I’m axing Rob.”

Mike: “Fine. But get rid of this Eppard guy.”

In real life situations, the owner of a business wants to do as much as they can to help set up their managers and employees and thus the business for success. In doing so they provide them with the necessary tools, information and people that will help them achieve those good results. Sometimes that means making tough decisions and putting personal relationships aside. When it comes to the Angels, it looks like Arte wasn’t quite ready to make those tough decisions and as a result  middle management was used as a scapegoat to “shake things up.”

Just how much change will come of it remains to be seen. But if stock equates with a fan’s hope (in keeping with the metaphor), you probably shouldn’t be too bullish in your investment.