Where do the LA Angels go after firing manager Brad Ausmus?
By Ryan Falla
The Angels have unceremoniously fired manager Brad Ausmus after just one season as the Angels manager. Opinions on this firing range all over the spectrum, with some celebrating his departure and others finding extreme distaste in his ejection. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the firing, the only question that now remains is where to go from here?
Brad Ausmus has been fired as the Angels manager after managing a 90 loss team in his first season as the skipper. The Angels notoriously had the most broken down, patched together starting rotation in all of baseball which inevitably, and quite quickly, led to the teams downfall. At the same time the inability of the starting staff led to the early degradation of the bullpen as they consistently saw themselves pitching up to 5 innings a game for the entire season.
There’s not much you can do as a manager when your GM hands you a roster completely devoid of starting pitching, and there’s not much you can do as a GM when your owner forces you to dive into the bargain bin during the winter instead of reeling in top level talent.
At the end of the day this all goes back to Angels owner Arte Moreno and his inconsistent, opportunistic attitude. We’ve seen him fumble the ball time and time again with moves like the Josh Hamilton signing (over bringing back Torii Hunter/Zack Greinke) or the entire Albert Pujols saga that came from Moreno wanting to up his reputation as a top-class baseball owner.
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All signs point to Moreno operating in such a way that he can maintain and re-earning the respect of Angel fans and the general baseball community in the following offseason by going all out in free agency. We’ve seen Moreno go all out in free agency multiple times before, yet within this past decade most of his big splashes have turned into either spectacular dumpster fires or overall extreme mediocrity.
There is little doubt that Moreno is going all out this offseason; no expense will be spared in his quest to return to a respectable standing in baseball community. Moreno wants to be the guy at the top, it’s never in his taste to be looked down upon. Expect everything to change in a big way this offseason, as it already has with the potential Joe Maddon signing.
Where exactly does him restoring his reputation start however? Despite him firing Ausmus after one year and openly chasing Angel fans favorite manager, the former Angel Joe Maddon, there is still a cloud hanging over the franchises head after this brutal debacle of a season. Even if/when they do bring in Maddon there will still be a lingering aftertaste from the failures of the 2019 season and the brutal response in the firing of Brad Ausmus.
Oh wait, did I say or? It is fully within Arte Morenos track record to spend lavishly when he is feeling jilted or embarrassed, and the Angels aren’t looking to bring home Cole and call it a day. Gerrit Cole to the Angels is almost a foregone conclusion, so in order to really send shockwaves around the baseball world Moreno is going to have to do something wild and unexpected. That move would be taking not just the top pitcher in free agency, but BOTH of the top pitchers in free agency.
The Angels lost a lot of fan support this season and people won’t come back to their seats unless something amazing is fielded next year. The Angels have solid potential in 2020 with their youth core of pitching becoming more familiar with the MLB, especially with top level talents such as Patrick Sandoval and Griffin Canning becoming more solidified in their MLB ability, but that still doesn’t fall in line with Morenos M.O of going bigger than big after extreme disappointment.
The biggest problem with the rotation was the lack of depth, aside from the lack of top end talent, so it’s going to take a lot more than signing one big pitcher. The Angels M.O of loading up on the backend has proved to hurt the team far more than it helps time and time again. After this horrendous season it is plain as day that the only way to fix the team is loading up on front-end pitching.
Gerrit Cole isn’t going to get it done himself, no matter how good he pitches next year. A Cy Young year in Gerrit Cole still won’t be enough to save the team in the long run; but when you add in another top-end talent in Bumgarner, who may not be Cy Young but is still a top end innings eater, you’ll then have yourself a formula for extreme success.
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The Angels will be getting Shohei Ohtani back on the mound in 2020 which is practically a top end free agent signing within itself, so at the core of the team you’d have Cole and Ohtani co-acing while Bumgarner eats up innings with quality performances out of the 3 spot. From there you can go with any mix of Griffin Canning, Patrick Sandoval, Jaime Barria, Dillon Peters, Andrew Heaney, and Jose Suarez for the 4-5 spots.
That is how you create serious, quality depth without sacrificing quality signings in free agency for quantity signings. Of course there are cheaper options available other than Bumgarner who could help fill the middle of the rotation out, but none of the options are as attractive as Bumgarner.
Despite Bumgarners down year with the Giants (3.90 ERA in 207.2 IP) he did eclipse 200 IP for the first time since 2016 and finished the year with a WAR of 2.8. The highest WAR the Angels saw from their own starting pitching came from the rookie Griffin Canning, who posted a WAR of 1.1 after a 4.58 ERA rookie season pitched across 90.1 IP.
Everything that can be said about Cole has been said, but with Bumgarner it needs to be noted how strong of a team leader he is on and off the field. He’s reminiscent of Jered Weaver with his notably firey bulldog attitude on the mound. Bumgarner is the kind of pitcher who can lead the youth of the Angels on and off the field, he’s a vocal and respected leader and the kind of guy who lives and dies by his teammates.
That quality right there makes him more than needed for this leaderless Angels staff, but when you add in his All-Star ability and playoff mastery you have yourself the BEST rotation in all of the MLB with Cole-Ohtani-Bumgarner leading the pack and Griffin Canning holding down the bottom end of the rotation with his plus-one.
How about that, the Angels going from worst starting staff in MLB to the best in the blink of an eye? That is exactly why Arte Moreno is going to chase both of these pitchers, because overnight he can save not only the Angels reputation, not only his own reputation, but the future of the Angels while he’s at it.
That’s going above and beyond what it takes to be a good owner, those are actions of what would be considered a great owner, and we all know how much Moreno loves to be seen as a great owner amongst Angel fans.