If the Los Angeles Angels really want to grab some headlines, they can make one of the most outrageous general manager hirings in history.
The Angels are still without a general manager and most likely will be without one until the conclusion of the 2020 season to avoid any distraction from the World Series. One name that has come up is former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who was suspended for the Astros cheating scandal in 2017 and 2018, and he may be the right fit in Anaheim.
Now I know what Angels fans might be thinking, they cheated and the Angels shouldn’t go anywhere near him for what happened. However, regardless of what fans may think of the organization or him, they shouldn’t deny that he helped build a successful and consistent team in Houston and had to endure losing seasons with the team before they were ever relevant. Should he work under Angels owner Arte Moreno and be their general manager, he would be tasked with going up against the team he built in Houston and trying to win with the best player in baseball, Mike Trout.
He recently has come up in the news for doing an interview with a local Houston TV station, in which he gave his side of the story about the cheating scandal and his views of the team. Since then, MLB has tried to counter Luhnow’s claims in the interview with a direct testimony linking his involvement with the cheating scandal. This all leads to question Luhnow’s integrity in that interview, however, should this all be cleared up and Luhnow is able to move on, then the Angels need to make a run for him should they want to be in a position to succeed.
There is no doubt that what he built in Houston is something remarkable with the talent that the team still has, regardless of how you look at their previous seasons. He was able to bring in players such as Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and George Springer that have all had varying degrees of success in Houston. Despite being the villains this season, the Astros were able to get into the playoffs in 2020 and force a game 7 against the Tampa Rays in the ALCS, with the workings of Luhnow still on the team despite being let go.
Before Houston, Luhnow was the vice president of the St. Louis Cardinals from 2003-2011 in which he was highly regarded for his scouting and player development in the system. This is one of the areas that the Angels need to improve on, especially in the pitching department as their homegrown pitchers haven’t proven any success so far. This was noted in an article by Jeff Fletcher in which he answered one of my questions on Twitter about the development of pitching in Anaheim and whether it could be a problem. Bringing in Luhnow will completely change the course of the Angels development system which definitely needs an overhaul should they want to contend.
This will also be a redemption story for him, as he is now receiving tough criticism for the cheating scandal in Houston. Should the Angels hire him, this will give him the opportunity to show what he can do with an organization that hasn’t been able to figure things out since 2014. If he were to succeed in Anaheim, he would go down with names like Tyson Fury, Tiger Woods, and David Beckham, as one of the best redemption stories in sports and would be able to get the last laugh towards MLB should he get a title with the Angels. Of course, all of this won’t be able to happen if he can’t convince one man, Arte Moreno, who is facing his own pressure to get Mike Trout into the postseason.
Arte Moreno and his collective staff will need to choose a general manager that not only gets along with them but with Angels manager Joe Maddon. That will be the one thing that will make it hard for Luhnow to go to the Angels as he will not get the chance to select his own manager and staff as he did in Houston. He will more than likely be forced to work with Joe Maddon as he has two more years left on his contract. He will also have to convince the Angels’ front office to change to way he operates things and evaluates players which is something he may have difficulty with as Mike LaCassa, director of minor league operations, has been with the organization for 5 years.
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However, should he get past these obstacles, then making the move to hire Jeff Luhnow is something the Angels should strongly consider, especially with the consistent problems they’ve had getting to the postseason.