The Billy Eppler era has officially begun in Anaheim as of 10 p.m. Tuesday night, as the Los Angeles Angels general manager’s first two moves are saying good-bye to Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher, and hitting coach Don Baylor. The first move was not a surprise as Butcher has been under fire over the last few seasons, but Baylor was a surprise although it maybe shouldn’t have been with the Angels finishing last in the AL in team batting average and 27th out of 30 teams with a .246 average. They were 20th in runs scored with 661, and 29th overall in hits with 1,331 for the season. However, last season the Angels finished tops in the majors in runs scored with 773 and 6th overall in team batting average with .259, so in my opinion Baylor deserved at least one more year to see if 2015 was an anomaly or a pattern. Obviously Billy Eppler does not share the same feelings. So the question now becomes where do the Angels go from here. Do they hire someone from within the organization for one or both spots? Do they look to get someone with ties to the Angels such as a Bud Black or maybe Darin Erstad? This will definitely be an interesting situation to follow over the next couple of weeks. Another question may be who else on the coaching staff may be shown the door? Are Mike Scioscia’s days numbered? Maybe more importantly is how much say will Scioscia, if any have in the hiring process for the new members to his staff?Butcher was the second-longest tenured coach on Scioscia’s staff as he had been with the club for 10 years, replacing Bud Black who was the mastermind behind the Angels pitching staff in Scioscia’s first six years as a manager, before leaving to become the manager of the San Diego Padres, a position he held until June of 2015.
Mike Butcher’s ten-year stint as Los Angeles Angels pitching coach came to an end Tuesday night.. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Butcher’s staffs for the most part have been solid, but there have been some who have thought he has not handled certain young pitchers well over the past couple of seasons. The Angels won three straight division titles the year after Butcher took over as pitching coach, but then suffered through a playoff drought missing the postseason five of the last six years. How much credit or blame should Butcher get for the failures and successes of the Angels pitching staff is debatable depending on who you talk to. Obviously Eppler felt the blame for the Angels recent failures fell at least partly on Butcher. Butcher’s staff have finished in the top 10 in ERA only twice in his 10-year stint as pitching coach. Compared to Black who had staffs that finished in the top 10 in ERA three times in seven years. You can debate all you want, but the fact of the matter is that Butcher is now unemployed. Thank you for time, but don’t let the door hit you in the butt on your way out of town.
As for Don Baylor or “Groove” as the Angels first AL MVP award winner in 1979 is known, was a little more of a curious move by Eppler. The Los Angeles Angels flourished in 2014 during Baylor’s
Fan favorite Don Baylor was given his walking paper Tuesday evening as he was relieved from his duties as Los Angeles Angels hitting coach. . Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
first year as hitting coach, but lipped this season. In this case it may have been the case of what have you done for me lately. There were even some who said that Baylor would make a good replacement as manager if Scioscia had been let go in 2015, or decided to opt out of his contract this offseason. Baylor has always been a fan favorite in Anaheim since his playing days. His 2014 debut as Angels hitting coach did not last long as during a pre-game ceremony to honor Los Angeles Angels great Vladimir Guerrero, Baylor broke his leg as he tried to get up from a catching crouch he had been in for Guerrero’s honorary first pitch causing him to miss close to half of the season. Any way you look at it though, Baylor has also been shown the door by Eppler. Stay tuned for more developments and analysis of this story as staff writer Grant Avise will explore possible candidates to replace both Butcher and Baylor.