LA Angels readying to replace Scioscia after 2018?
Just yesterday news broke that ex-Tigers manager Brad Ausmus landed a position in the LA Angels front office. While his official position is of Special Assistant to the GM it seems that there is more to this move than meets the eye. Sometimes the whole story is found in the details omitted.
The LA Angels have officially hired Brad Ausmus, ex-Tigers manager of four years to work as Special Assistant to the GM. While this may seem like a benign (although phenomenal) move I’m here to tell you this is only the beginning of a major Halos shakeup following the 2018 season.
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In order to unravel the subtleties behind this move we need to start with an examination of current Angels manager Mike Scioscia. I’ve already expressed my distaste for Scioscia’s management in a previous article, but this has less to do with performance evaluation and connecting the lingering dots into a bigger picture.
Scioscia is on record stating that he is “okay” with returning to the Angels in 2018 with no extension in place. Of course he should be okay to returning in the final year of his contract without an extension, although a statement like that carries more water than what is advertised. Does Scioscia know something we don’t? Is he fighting for a job in 2018?
It’s very atypical to see a manager make the statement that he has no problem fulfilling his contract obligations unless there is turmoil afoot. The fact that he has to make the statement makes it seem there’s more going on than meets the eye.
The picture I’m painting wasn’t completely clear until the Angels hiring of Brad Ausmus yesterday. Here are two things you have to consider with this hiring.
One problem is the position of Special Assistant to the GM is very nondescript. Ausmus is not an Assistant GM, he’s not even an “Assistant”. What is a Special Assistant? Given its lack of concrete details one can only assume it’s one of those “cushy” jobs. However, it doesn’t seem like they’re readying him to take a bigger front office role. Simply put, it seems like Ausmus has been hired to keep him within the organization.
An obvious statement with not so obvious implications.
With Ausmus’ new position being so close to Billy Eppler in a GM assistant role there are very few assumptions to be made. The Angels hired Bud Black in 2016 while he was between managing jobs to herald the position of Special Assistant to the GM for one year before taking off to manage the Rockies. From this hiring we can see, at the very least, the Angels like to take care of their own.
But Ausmus isn’t one of “their own”. He hasn’t been an Angel once in his career. While Bud Black seemed to receive his job as a transitional effort to help his career I don’t see why this would be the case with Ausmus.
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Especially when you consider Eppler is also in his final contract year. Would it make sense for a GM looking to maintain his position hand-wave this level of responsibility off to Ausmus? It doesn’t, and that’s because Eppler isn’t making simple hires. It’s very much within Epplers game-plan to make small, under the radar moves to build his team’s future.
The low-key pickup of Blake Parker off the waiver wire, a pitcher who has come into form as a possible future Angels closer was the personification of Billy Eppler’s small ball style of GM’ing. The trade for Parker Bridwell for cash considerations? How about the late season pickup of Noe Ramirez and his promising 10 games of 2.16 ERA baseball? That’s just a small look into Eppler’s work with the Angels however.
Eppler is king at making sly moves unnoticed by the rest of the league and turning them into big pieces for the club. This Ausmus move is no different. Did you think Parker Bridwell would end up manning the middle of the Angels rotation for the 2nd half of 2017 when they picked him up almost for free? What about Blake Parker and the role he earned? None of them seemed like future pieces at face value, now all of them hold value in some manner, either moderate or massive.
The point is that Eppler doesn’t bring pieces into his club unless he feels they’ll impact the team in a major way. I understand at this point there is a lot of conjecture, yet the dots are all coming far too close together to not be evaluated in such a manner.
The only responsibilities we know Ausmus will have is a close assistance towards player scouting and evaluation both inside and outside the organization. It might seem small at first, until you consider that this effectively allows Ausmus to familiarize himself with his organization/players he may be managing in a years time.
The hiring of Brad Ausmus isn’t a typical move where you can eyeball some stats and news reports and paint the full picture. The devil is in the details, and this is a story full of non-descriptors.
All the significant details lay just outside the perspective of this move, we know Ausmus is now Special Assistant to the GM. We know Ausmus will likely return to managing in 2019. We know Scioscia may not return to the Angels in 2019. It seems obvious something bigger is going on within the organization.
Call it reaching, call it hopeful thinking; at this point the story is not complete so all evaluation of the matter will seem to be conjecture.
All I can offer you, aside from connecting these many dots, is one sage piece of advice. Take the possibility of Ausmus managing the Angels in 2019 all the way to your nearest sports bookie. A year from now you’ll be thanking me from your gold-plated Mercedes and diamond encrusted poolside lounge.