Whenever you have a sub-par season you will always hear the naysayers calling for your head as a manager. LA Angels manager Brad Ausmus is hearing just that.
When the LA Angels hired Brad Ausmus to replace long-time manager Mike Scioscia after he resigned at the end of the 2018 season, many people shook their heads at the choice of managers that general manager Billy Eppler. Ausmus was definitely not the sexy pick that many had hoped for. Joe Giradi was a name that many were hoping for. Some people had even talked about the Angels trying to lure Maddon away from the Cubs last winter.
In the end the former big league catcher Brad Ausmus won out and the post-Mike Scioscia era began. Ausmus had a returning line-up that had a lot of positives in it with emerging prospect David Fletcher being a player that could play multiple positions, Gold-Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons, Tommy La Stella as a role-player, a solid veteran in Jonathan Lucroy at catcher, plus a platoon of Albert Pujols and Justin Bour at first base. Coupled that with two All-Stars in the outfield in Mike Trout and Justin Upton, plus another Gold Glove winner Kole Calhoun in right field and 2018 Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani at DH.
But then reality and injuries hit and this line-up ended up not looking so good. Trout missed 20 games, Upton close to four months, Ohtani has missed about eight weeks and La Stella has missed close to three months. In addition Zack Cozart has missed most of the season. Pitching has not been exempt from injuries either. Felix Pena, Shohei Ohtani, the death of Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Cahill, Chris Stratton, J.C. Ramirez all were starters that didnt fare too well.
The Angels will end up with their worst record since 1999, the year before Mike Scioscia took over as the manager. Now that former bench coach and long-time member of the Angels organization Joe Maddon looks to be available, many people are calling for Ausmus’ head in favor of bringing in Maddon in his stead. Would that be the right move?
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In my opinion the answer is a definite yes. Nothing against Brad Ausmus, but he doesn’t seem to be the right fit for the Angels. I do believe it is hard to assess a guy after only one season, but in Ausmus’ case the Golden Goose is out there and that makes him expendable. Joe Maddon has a proven track record and Ausmus doesn’t.
Maddon in 14 seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays and the Chicago Cubs has had only two losing seasons: his first two years in Tampa. He led the Rays to their first and only World Series in his third year after those first two miserable seasons. He then guided the Rays to three more playoff appearances twice as a Wild-Card and once as the AL East Champions in 2010. This was a franchise That never had a winning season in club history prior to Maddon’s arrival. Heck, in the previous 10 years they had only one non-last place finish.
Maddon then took his bag of tricks to Chicago to a franchise that hadn’t even been to a World Series in 70 years and hadn’t won a championship in 110 years and in his second year at the helm he did just that, by winning a World Series. Maddon in fact led the Cubs to the NLCS each of his first three years at the helm something the Cubs had never done before.
The team won 90+ games for four straight seasons. This year they will finish just short of the 90 win mark probably around 85 victories and they will miss the playoffs for the first time in Maddon’s tenure. So let’s add this all up. Eight playoff appearances in 14 seasons. Two World Series appearances, four division titles, and four League Championhip Series appearances with two of the most hapless franchises in baseball before he arrived.
The previous six years before Maddon arrived in Chicago the Cubs had losing seasons not even doing close to making the playoffs. In the 25 years prior to Maddon the Cubs only made the playoff four times and won only one playoff series (2003). So for anyone who doesn’t think Maddon is a good manager look at his track record.
Joe Maddon now has the reputation of molding young teams that have talent together and helping them to finally realize that talent. Sounds like exactly what the young Angels need with a plethora of young talent that is starting to makes it way to the majors. I would hate giving manager only one year to prove himself, but that’s the breaks sometimes.
For Maddon it would be a great homecoming and a chance to turn yet another franchise around. It sounds like a match made in, wait for it, HEAVEN. The question is would this be a choice that general manager Billy Eppler would sign off on. Maddon is not one of “his” guys, whereas Ausmus is. What would happen to the current Angels coaching staff, most of which are only in their first year with the team. Could Maddon be told he has to stick with Jeremy Reed (hitting coach) and Doug White (pitching coach), and would he agree to those terms? Possibly, but you never know until you try.
A month ago no one mentioned anything about Ausmus’ job being in jeopardy as it has been a rough season with a lot of things that happened being out of his control. Has anything changed? You wouldn’t think so, but according to Angels beat writer for The Athletic, Fabian Ardaya, Maddon to the Angels is gaining some traction. (See tweet below).
This all could be a pipe dream for Angel fans who do not like Brad Ausmus, but nothing would surprise me now-a-days and Joe Maddon coming back to Anaheim is something that I would love to see as I think he could unlock the key to the Angels finally getting back to the playoffs, somewhere they have not been since 2014. I would be nice and give Ausmus his old job back as a special assistant to Billy Eppler.
Let’s see how things play out in the next couple of weeks, because if I’m the Chicago Cubs I would think twice before letting Joe Maddon walk away after the most successful five-year period in the last 100 years of Cubs baseball. However, in this business it is what have you done for me lately, a statement that may ring true for Joe Maddon.
However, Chicago’s loss could be the Angels gain. One can only hope if you’re an Angels fan.