About three weeks ago the word got out that Mike Scioscia was not going to be the Angels manager in 2019. A day later Scioscia dismissed the story as “Poppycock”. So what is the true story?
The Angels had a glorious decade from 2000-2009. They won the AL West six times and also earned a wild-card berth in 2002 that turned into the club’s only World Series title. Mike Scioscia was considered a mastermind and the architect of this team along with former general manager Bill Stoneman.
However in the last nine seasons from 2010-2018 times have become lean, very lean as the Angels have won only only one AL West title in 2014 and they have not won a playoff game in that time period either. Mike Scioscia has gone from a conquering hero to a goat, and not in the good sense of the word. Many fans have been calling for Scioscia’s head on a platter for the past two to three seasons.
So the question becomes is Scioscia staying or going. Since Scioscia’s denial of his departure after the 2018 season things have been pretty quiet on that front except for one quizzical thing.
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On August 5th the Angels announced that they were promoting Salt Lake City Bees manager Keith Johnson from the Triple-A skipper spot, to an extra coach on the Angels staff. In addition Eric Chavez, the special assistant to the general manger Billy Eppler, was name the manager of the Bees for the rest of the season.
This is a move you rarely see happen unless a major league manager or coach has been fired. So what should we read into this move? I believe the answer to that question is yes. But what does this move mean.
Most likely either Eric Chavez or Keith Johnson could be considered front-runners for the Angels managerial job if Scioscia does indeed leave.
Chavez seems to be the one that out people are talking about as the heir-apparent to Scioscia is he does not return in 2019. So who is Eric Chavez? Chavez is a former major leaguer who played most of his career with the Oakland A’s as a third baseman and was a six-time gold glove winner for the A’s. Chavez amassed 260 home runs and drove in 902 runs in his 17-year major league career and he finished with a .268 career average. Chavez also spent two seasons with the Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks at the end of his career.
Since retiring Chavez worked as a special assistant to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman which is where he met Angels GM Billy Eppler. Eppler then brought him over to the Angels after the 2015 season. He has filled in a few times for Keith Johnson as the skipper of the Salt Lake City Bees, including his latest stint that will last until the end of the season. Chavez has also been a frequent visitor to Salt Lake City to assess and also assist with the minor league players there.
So what does Chavez make of all the talk about being Scioscia’s possible replacement?
“If the door opens up, I’ll address those when I come,” said Chavez in an interview with Salt Lake City Tribune’s Christopher Kamrani. “But if I end up doing my special assistant role for the next 10 years I will be totally happy.”
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Many fans have hoped the Angels will get a former Angel player like Darin Erstad to manage, but Chavez could actually be a good fit. Chavez has some good intangibles and has a good rapport with a lot of the younger players such as Taylor Ward and David Fletcher who he has worked with at Triple-A in the past. Not only that he also from I’ve heard has a tremendous work ethic and is more into the analytical side of things which of course Mike Scioscia is not so much.
It will be sad to see Mike Scioscia go even though I’m sure many of you will be doing the ‘Happy Dance’. Scioscia has done more for the Angels than any other manager in their history. Not only did he guide the Angels to their only World Series title, he changed the culture in Anaheim and help make the franchise from a laughingstock to one where winning was expected not just a pipe dream. To be continued…