Why the firing of Brad Ausmus by the LA Angels was the for the best
The LA Angels didn’t waste anytime after season ended to part ways with manager Brad Ausmus. The team finished with their worst record in 20 years at 72-90.
The next LA Angels manager to follow Mike Scioscia definitely had big shoes to follow as the Angel skipper of 19 seasons had won more than 1,600 games, won the AL West title five times, been to ALCS three times and won the club’s only World Series in 58 years. Beside all of that Scioscia had a dynamic personality and was well-like by most players and fans.
Brad Ausmus was the first to get the chance to replace Mike Scioscia after being hired in October of 2018. The team looked like it could contend for at least a wild-card spot with a line-up that included Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton, Albert Pujols and others. The team had gotten what seemed to be a proven closer in Cody Allen and two decent starting pitchers (or so it seemed) in Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill. Plus adding depth with Tommy La Stella, Justin Bour, and Brian Goodwin.
However, success wasn’t in the cards for Ausmus and the Angels this season. The team seemed to hover just above .500 for the first half of the season and even reached a mark of 54-49 after sweeping the second-best team in baseball the hated Dodgers in a late July series. They had climbed within two games of the wild-card lead, but then the bottom fell out.
The Angels lost 28 of their next 40 games and fell out of playoff contention. This was one of the worst stretches that the team has scene in 25 years. It was not all Ausmus’ fault because the team had a plethora of injuries to its pitching staff and also key position players, not to mention the death of one of the club’s best pitchers Tyler Skaggs.
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To Brad Ausmus’ credit he handled the Skaggs death with compassion and class keep the team together in what was a very difficult time. However, many of his managerial decisions were questionable especially his managing of the pitching staff most notably the bullpen. When things go wrong somebody usually takes the fall.
Brad Ausmus was the Angels “fall guy”. The Angels top brass, general manager Billy Eppler and owner Arte Moreno should shoulder some blame in the team’s demise in 2019. They did not land any big name pitchers that could have made a difference.
In my opinion the hiring of Ausmus was just like the signing of all the free-agents the Angels did in the 2018 off-season. All the key acquisition were signed to only a one-year contract. If they did a good job the Angels could extend their contracts (Brian Goodwin and Tommy La Stella will almost assuredly be back), but if they did not do well they would be sent packing (Matt Harvey, Cody Allen, Jonathan Lucroy, (were all released) and most likely Trevor Cahill, Luis Garcia, and Justin Bour will not return.)
In Ausmus case he actually had a three-year contract which the Angels have probably already bought out when they fired him. Ausmus would have probably only gotten a one-year deal if not for the negative connotation it would have given the players and Ausmus himself with no job stability.
So now moving on to why the move was good for the team and much-needed. I am not going to assume that the reason Ausmus was given his walking papers was because Joe Maddon was now suddenly available, but I’m sure it did play a part in the decision being made. Brad Ausmus was too blah as a manager. He is not a bad guy and may not be a bad manager, but he is not the right person for the Angels.
The Angels with all their young talent they have that is now making their way to the majors, the team needs someone with enthusiasm and excitement to energize and relate to this young nucleus much the way Tampa Bay and the Chicago Cubs did when they hired Joe Maddon to take over franchises that seemed to be spinning their wheels. Maddon’s way of doing things worked to inspire his team’s to reach new heights that had either never been reached in the Rays case or had not been seen in a long time in the case of the Cubs.
The Rays had never had a winning season in franchise history before Maddon took over in 2006. Two years later they had made it to the first World Series in franchise history. They reached the playoffs four more times during Maddon’s tenure and he left as the winningest manager in club history.
As for his five years with the Cubs his success was even more impressive. In his first season he guided the Cubs to the NLCS for only third time in club history. Then in 2016 he helped get the biggest monkey in sports history off the Cubs’ back by not only making it to the World Series but winning the title for the first time in 110 years. They made the NLCS again the season despite some injuries and made the playoffs the first four years he was there with this season being the only year the team did nt qualify for the pst-season and just like the Angels the Cubs had a ton of key injuries that really hurt their chances.
I truly think the Cubs made a big mistake in letting Maddon go, but their loss will be someone’s gain and hopefully it will be the Angels. If the Angels do not get Joe Maddon as the manager for 2020 it will be a disappointment, but there are some managers out there that could also make a huge difference if the Angels could lure them to Anaheim. I still Joe Girardi could be a good choice and although Bruce Bochy says he is retiring from the Giants he might be able to be lured back by the Angels.
Another person that many people I got not be thinking about with the Maddon fever that is spreading through Angel Nation, is Darin Erstad. I think his grit and competitive drive could be a breath of fresh air in Anaheim as well.
My money though is on getting Joe Maddon as I think he would be the right fit to lead the Angels back to the promiseland. It may not happen in one season, but I think it would be sooner rather than later. Let’s see what happens in the next few days and hope that the Angels get it right this time and hire someone that bring life back into the franchise.