Los Angeles Angels play musical chairs with their coaching staff
The Los Angeles Angels have decided to shake things up within their coaching staff even more than they already have this off-season.
At the beginning of next season you will probably need a scorecard with pictures to figure out ‘Who’s on First?’ The old baseball metaphor from the Abbott and Costello bit will definitely apply to the 2016 Angels team, including the coaching staff, front office and players.
New General Manager Billy Eppler has been at the helm about a month and has already made numerous changes both on and off the field. The Angels’ front office continues its facelift, hiring Steve Martone to be an assistant general manager to Eppler. Martone has been the New York Yankees manager of professional scouting and worked closely with Eppler. The team also announced the return of one of its favorite sons, former pitching coach Bud Black. Black was named special assistant to Eppler and will probably work with pitchers across the organization. Eppler had previously hired Eric Chavez to be his special assistant as well.
On the field, Eppler did not offer batting coach Don Baylor or pitching coach Mike Butcher a contract for 2016. Since then, Charles Nagy has been hired as the team’s new pitching coach and Dave Hansen was promoted from assistant hitting coach to hitting coach to replace Baylor.
Now Eppler has decided to shake up the coaching staff even further as he has decided to switch third base coach Gary DiSarcina to first base coach, replacing Alfredo Griffin, who had filled that role for 17 years. Griffin will now serve as the infield coach and catching coach. This move was precipitated because the Angels brought back another former coach, Ron Roenicke, to be the third base coach. Roenicke left the club in 2011 to become the Milwaukee Brewers manager, but was let go early in the 2015 season.
Eppler has already made a big splash as well on the field. First, he declined the option of David Murphy’s contract as well as David DeJesus’ contract (the first was not a certainty, but DeJesus’ departure was a no-brainer). Eppler and the Angels also declined to make a qualifying offer to David Freese, making him a free agent.
Eppler then started the task of reshaping a team that many would say underachieved last season, going 85-77 and missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six years. His first big move was to trade Angels veteran and clubhouse leader Erick Aybar along with top pitching prospect Sean Newcomb as well as prospect Chirs Ellis to the Atlanta Braves for Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons and catching prospect Jose Briceno. Eppler also signed utility infielder Cliff Pennington to a two-year deal to provide depth up the middle behind Simmons and second baseman Johnny Giavotella. Pennington can also play the outfield and third base so he could be a valuable asset.
Now the next questions are who will play third base and left field next year and who will back-up Carlos Perez behind the plate? Another question is whether the Angels will try to add any pitching or stick with what they have. I guess we will all have to wait and see what ace Eppler has up his sleeve next.